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The key industries embracing digital disruption in the time of Covid

While the digitisation of global business is nothing new, a handful of well established industries remain relatively slow to change when it comes to embracing digital technology.

But recently the tide is turning fast. Suddenly, even the most reluctant sectors are actively disrupting themselves in a move to respond to a more automated, connected, cashless world.

Observers could claim most of this digital disruption as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it’s more accurate to say these businesses were already in the process of evolving digitally. The challenges and demands of a global lockdown simply accelerated the pace.

Notably, a handful of long-established sectors look fundamentally different today than they did a year ago, now relying on technology to continue and even grow operations amid enduring uncertainty. As a result, some industries that traditionally lag behind the changing times are finding themselves leading the way toward our next normal.

The digital face of healthcare

Arguably no industry needed to adapt as quickly as healthcare when Covid-19 struck. Facing unprecedented demand and strain on existing systems, health services around the world rapidly shifted to digital delivery methods for the majority of non-emergency services. And the digital disruption of healthcare continues.

With the enforcement of social-distancing and many patients reluctant to attend GPs or hospitals, reliance on telehealth capabilities has risen sharply. Currently up to 90% of practitioners' daily consultancy in the UK is conducted remotely using telehealth tools.

Providers are increasingly using e-prescriptions and dispensing applications, while some countries now permit home delivery service for medications as well.

Finally, the race to find vaccines or cures for diseases like Covid-19 continues at full throttle, also aided by technology. A handful of medtech companies like Teckro are simplifying the clinical trial process and better connecting teams around the world. This simplification allows researchers — and the doctors and nurses they support — to get fast and accurate answers, while sponsors get real-time visibility on performance no matter where the trials are happening.

A new way to pay

Although the banking industry tends to stay a step behind innovation leaders, ongoing changes in both technology and legislation are propelling digital disruption through financial services.

Since PSD2 took effect in 2018, fintech challengers like Revolut and Fire have sought to capitalise on the possibilities of open banking. Now they and similar companies can operate as Payment Initiation Service Providers (PISPs) in a move toward bringing open payments to customers and merchants .

Open payments lets PISPs replace the middlemen in the payment process, such as payment gateways, card processors and card providers, who profit from fees applied to every traditional card transaction. Open payment schemes can even bypass the bank’s transaction fees for card payments.

This works out as a win for the retailer (no merchant fee), the customer (no banking fee) and the low-cost model of the new challenger banks themselves. What’s more, by opening up payments in this way, brands can initiate closer and more trusted relationships with their customers, for example, by offering loyalty deals or giving money back.

The implications of these digital disruptions in banking have yet to be fully realised, but even conservative predictions foresee major changes coming to the sector once enough customers adopt these low-cost offerings.

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Education for an online world

While online courses and distance learning predate the pandemic, the global need for all levels of education to continue remotely in the fallout of Covid-19 meant education authorities, instructors, students and parents had to get comfortable with the concept practically overnight .

Additional mechanisms and tools to continue the digital disruption of education are in development, with countless institutions searching for the most reliable, sustainable and even profitable way to deliver instruction to students.

For example, traditional universities now face a major pivot in how they deliver services, both because of public health regulations and because few parents will agree to pay high fees for a top college if their children can be educated online at home.

In order to survive, some universities will have to lower fees but enrol more students online to make up for the shortfall. Others may offer a half-offline and half-online model, and long-term partnerships with corporations may become normal as well.

To address unique needs, institutions and instructors will rely increasingly on adaptive learning software to personalise the delivery of information to suit each student studying remotely. In fact, a recent report predicts the market for adaptive learning software to grow by more than US$384 billion by 2024 .

The automated future of logistics

Advancing technology and evolving challenges in the year of Covid-19 are also driving digital disruption in the field of logistics. Automation tools like chatbots are able to handle a substantial percentage of call centre enquiries. Implementing these systems for routine service requests lets customer care teams dramatically scale throughput, giving them greater reach and more effective service reports.

Additionally, blockchain technology enables more secure shipment validation, leading to improved visibility and trust in the shipping process. And augmented reality is speeding up processes like picking, packing and commissioning in warehouses.

Autonomous logistics is creating driverless options for getting shipments from A to B, in turn creating a faster, more cost-effective service and allowing for economies of scale.

Even improvements as simple as standardising software across the supply chain can create efficiencies for logistics organisations. Such efficiencies in turn allow all parts of the chain to scale up their offerings.

Driving digital disruption across industries

The events of 2020 underscore the need for digital disruption and innovation across sectors, regardless of whether an industry is traditionally quick or slow to adapt processes and embrace technology.

Businesses and organisations looking to succeed and grow through 2020 and into the future will benefit specifically from digital solutions that prioritise three important factors: scalability, agility and delivery time .

By design, modern apps and software should allow the organisations using them to scale users and features up or down. The idea of scalability can range from near-instant onboarding of new users to ongoing feature development for long-term growth of the solution.

This ties directly into agility, the enabling of businesses to flex or pivot quickly in an ever-changing world. Simplified solutions leveraging modern tech stacks can inherently allow for economies of scale and support expansion into new markets or territories.

The speed of delivery directly impacts the effectiveness of a digital solution. Time to deployment was already increasing in importance before the pandemic — now it is a project-critical consideration for many sectors.

As such, companies need to ensure any digital partner they engage has demonstrated fast, effective delivery of future-ready solutions that work . For established industries that impact much of daily life, like the ones mentioned above, being fast, if not first, to market can mean the difference of having a market at all.

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