Tips for Being Innovative in the Midst of a Pandemic

Across virtually every industry on the planet, the COVID-19 pandemic effectively quashed even the most streamlined business models. Social distancing mandates, widespread business closures, and a struggling global economy have us all scrambling to adapt. In virtually every industry, the numbers are indeed alarming: As of June 2020, the World Bank predicts that the world’s total gross domestic product is likely to shrink 5.2% by the year’s end. 

If the World Bank’s bleak prognosis comes to fruition, the economic woes of 2020 will go down in history as the worst recession in more than 80 years. COVID-19 is the primary culprit, and certain industries have been harder hit than others in the aftermath of global pandemic. The global tourism industry, for instance, has seen drastically reduced numbers, and it may be slow to recover.

One of the world’s biggest industries, travel and tourism accounted for 10.3% of the global GDP in 2019, totaling $8.9 trillion. And 2020’s numbers were expected to be even bigger, at least until COVID-19 entered the picture. According to the Organisation for Economic

Co-operation and Development, international tourism is on track to see a 60% decline by the end of 2020. While the domestic tourism industry is predicted to rebound more quickly, it could be several years before tourism numbers even approach that of previous years.

It’s important to remember that numerous businesses count on tourism for a large chunk of their revenue, including restaurants, gift shops, and museums. For business leaders, this time of uncertainty may at first seem harmful to both your bottom line and the overall integrity of your company, no matter what types of goods and or/services you provide. Yet you can still find success in a post-COVID world, as long as you’re willing to embrace innovation. 

In order for your business to thrive in an uncertain future, it’s time to swap out your outdated business model in favor of dynamic, solution-based approaches. 

Stay on Top of Digital Trends and Tech

Your journey to business innovation, post-pandemic, starts in the digital realm. The digital revolution ushered in an exciting new era for businesses, as well as global citizens as a whole. While scientists dabbled in digital technology as early as 1947, the true digital revolution kicked off in the 1980s, gaining momentum throughout the 1990s. 

During that 20-year period, the world was first introduced to compact discs (CDs), laptop computers, smartphones, social media, and Bluetooth technology. The rest, as they say, is history. In the 21st century, digital technology is essentially society’s backbone, and its applications are myriad, connecting us to friends, family, and colleagues across the globe, as well as vast troves of information. 

Thus, keeping your business on its feet as the threat of COVID still looms requires you to embrace digitization, on as large of a scale as possible. By digitizing various aspects of your business, such as customer service and product delivery, for example, you can preserve the health of your employees along with that of your company. 

If you have a brick and mortar location, encourage customers to use digital payments rather than cash, and offer them options: In addition to credit and debit cards, 21st century customers are able to make payments via apps, finance platforms such as Google Pay, and even cryptocurrency. In a way, COVID-19 is helping move digital currency and payment options into the mainstream, rather than being looked on as a passing fad or trend.

Consider the Merits of Disruptive Innovation

In the vein of self-help lifestyle trends and fad diets, similar business models are a dime a dozen. What’s more, a large chunk of trendy management fads fail spectacularly. From Six Stigma to Management by Walking Around and There’s No “I” in Team, countless management fads have fizzled over the years, primarily spawned by misguided ideas and overly complex theories on consumer and employee behavior.

But that doesn’t mean that every new, modernized business model is destined to fail: On the contrary, fueling business innovation in the midst of a pandemic requires you to try new things. On a daily basis, the managerial process requires mindfulness and adaptability, traits that are even more crucial in the wake of global pandemic. As you search for innovative ways to keep your business afloat in these unprecedented times, don’t be afraid to shake things up a little.

When wading through the virtual sea of management trends, look for those that will provide your employees with a clear sense of direction and purpose. Keep in mind that any business-related changes you make are likely to disrupt your business, and that’s not necessarily bad news for your company. In fact, “truly disruptive innovation has enormous implications for a business’s profitability and success,” reports Washington State University’s Carson College of Business. 

Airbnb is a notable example of the ways in which disruptive innovation can fuel widespread change: Although the short-term rental platform is struggling along with the rest of the tourism industry in 2020, it completely altered the hotel industry. Today, Airbnb offers more lodging options than any hotel in the world, due in part to its use of digital technology. 

As we can see, disruptive innovation has the power to fuel trends and completely change entire industries. In this way, the COVID-19 pandemic provides an unlikely yet viable opportunity for your business to become an industry leader into the foreseeable future. Along with business innovation and disruption, however, safety and security are key factors to keep in mind as you adapt the post-COVID business landscape.

Secure Your Digital Assets

Digitization has improved our lives in countless ways, helping to streamline various tasks and connect to virtually every bit of information known to man. Unfortunately, digital technology isn’t foolproof, and is subject to various threats, including bugs, viruses, and malware. Digital security breaches can wreak havoc on your company, compromising both the integrity of your business and its bottom line. 

In the digital age, the key to revenue growth lies in security, especially that of your company’s mobile apps. 21st century hackers have graduated from accessing early PCs and dial-up internet channels to those that are mobile, specifically designed for smartphones and similar digital devices. The most used apps, and those that are the most vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals, include apps related to social media, weather, and banking. 

When your digital business data is compromised, the consequences are often severe. The personal information of your customers could be compromised, for example, and your trade secrets could also be at risk. Further, your company’s reputation is likely to take a major hit in the aftermath of a data or security breach, no matter how small. Your company may also be on the receiving end of lawsuits and other forms of legal action as the result of a data breach. 

Make Public Health Your Company’s Top Priority

Of course, safety and security matters extend well beyond the digital realm. As you strive for continued business innovation, post-pandemic, public health should be at the forefront of your mind. It’s time to ask yourself the big questions, and outline your vision for your company as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Start with the basics: How can you restructure or update your business model to account for the unexpected, while also attempting to mitigate the financial damage caused by COVID? Can your business continue to adapt to these changes, now and into the future? 

As the world learns to adapt to the repercussions of global pandemic, consumer behavior is changing, and leaders in every industry are scrambling to keep up. True business innovation can only be achieved if you’re able to adapt in turn, and be willing to do what it takes, even if your longstanding business model has been completely upended by the virus. Instead of looking at the COVID pandemic in a negative light, try to see it as an opportunity to fully integrate your company into the digital world. 

By implementing a business model that is both disruptive and centered on digital channels, you can keep consumers and employees safe. Under the threat of a deadly pandemic, security is more important than ever to your consumer base, as well as your employees. If you establish your company as a global leader in the realm of data security, inclusive culture, and public safety, continued success and steady revenue may just be in your grasp. What’s more, with public health and data security at the crux of your future business model, your company’s reputation is likely to see a major boost.

Key Takeaways

Your corporate culture will continue to be altered and shaped as you learn to better adapt to a world where COVID-19 has taken center stage. In 2020 and beyond, improving company and employee safety will remain a multifaceted endeavor, with public health serving as the primary focus. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box as you look for creative ways to keep your business running, and ensure that data security is a high priority at all levels of your business.