Even in the unprecedented and challenging times we face, some bright spots shine through the daily onslaught of coronavirus coverage.
Plenty of companies are developing innovative ways to serve the public, generate revenue, and create new products during the pandemic:
COMPANIES ARE BEING CREATIVE
Companies large and small have been forced to be creative to generate revenue during the coronavirus pandemic. Some businesses have closed brick-and-mortar stores completely as the result of stay-at-home orders, while others have adjusted to new regulations regarding how they can operate.
Companies that have been successful at generating revenue during the outbreak have done so by targeting customers’ acute needs driven by the pandemic. Food, supplements, cleaning supplies, and protective clothing were all thrust into extreme demand, as well as strategies designed to help the most susceptible among us.
U-Haul offered 30 days of free storage to any college students forced to move out of their dorms earlier than they expected.
Grocery stores around the country have set aside “senior citizen shopping hours” early in the morning. During this time, only senior citizens may enter the stores, reducing possible exposure for a most vulnerable segment of our population.
Uber Eats announced plans to donate 300,000 meals to healthcare workers and first responders.
These are a few of the many examples of companies adjusting their business models to serve a significant public need and also generate revenue during this time.
COMPANIES ARE RESPONDING TO NEED
It’s no secret that certain medical supplies — such as ventilators, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer — are in short supply. To help, U.S. companies are shifting their focus from one product to a completely different one.
Organized by Parkdale, a coalition of nine apparel companies in the United States switched operations to produce a weekly goal of 5 million to 10 million face masks by mid-April. This coalition includes Parkdale — the largest yarn spinner in America — as well as Fruit of the Loom and Hanes brands, Beverly Knits, AST Sportswear, and American Giant.
Large companies such as Ford, Airbus and LVMH have shifted production to make ventilators, masks and hand sanitizers.
While some of these production switches were strongly suggested by the federal government, other companies have done so voluntarily.
Fashion designers such as Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell are teaming up to produce gowns and masks to help healthcare agencies in the state of New York.
Many other companies — from Apple to Facebook to Salesforce — are donating masks to help the healthcare industry.
COMPANIES ARE INNOVATING WITH TECH
Perhaps the best stories during these trying times come from tech companies that are creating innovations to serve the immediate purpose of fighting the coronavirus, while also shedding light on future uses.
One such example is Promobot, a company based in Philadelphia that debuted its helpful robots in Times Square in New York City (before the current stay-at-home orders). The robots quizzed people to help them determine if they have symptoms of coronavirus, which could lead them to seek medical attention and/or self-quarantine.
Denver-based digital health startup BioIntelliSense created a wearable sensor that monitors patients’ vital signs from a remote location, providing real-time data to clinicians. This technology can help people refrain from visiting overcrowded medical facilities unless their situation warrants it.
Communications and media companies are on the frontlines of fighting stay-at-home boredom. Several streaming services made their plans available with generous free trials during a time when people are home more than ever.
Other tech companies in the health industry are refining medical chatbots that evaluate people from afar for symptoms that could be signs of COVID-19, all without the need for physical interaction.
AUTOMATION AND AI PLAY A ROLE
The common thread with most successful innovations is that automation and artificial intelligence are integral to future endeavors. At a time when isolation and separation are touted, tech and communication companies are quickly realizing — if they haven’t before — that digital automation and AI tools are essential to future success. This goes for not only getting through the pandemic but thriving in business once this crisis is eventually behind us.
The rest of the business world will look to the innovations and adjustments that tech and communications companies are creating now for ways business in the future should be conducted. That will revolve around the basic goal of serving people’s needs no matter what comes their way, with whatever limitations are put in place on normal operating procedures.
The importance of fulfilling customers’ most basic needs is evident. A company doesn’t need to wait for a world-challenging crisis to learn how to best understand customers’ wants and needs, even if the customer is unable to articulate what exactly is needed.