The Impact of Covid-19 Across Industries

May 05, 2020

When we think about the structural changes that the coronavirus has caused in our lives, our minds go possibly to the loss of loved ones, prolonged social distancing, or the need for protective gear for previously routine activities. And as they should. However, the pandemic will also continue to point out weaknesses in our technological infrastructure.

Some of these challenges stem from our reliance on analog or outdated business systems, such as the payment infrastructure in use for the stimulus checks. In other cases, the coronavirus has presented problems and applications that we’ve simply never encountered before, such as the need for a privacy-preserving system to do contact tracing.

Regardless of why these technological gaps exist, it is imperative that we come up with answers to them. In this article, we explore technological challenges faced by industries spanning healthcare to global trade, what we can do to bridge them, and what all of this means for digital transformation in the coming years. In an upcoming white paper, the R3 Industry Business Unit (IBU) team will address potential solutions to these challenges.

How is this changing the market?

Without question, healthcare has faced the brunt of the public health crisis. As authorities begin to think about what’s needed to navigate a post-peak environment, the public-health tools deployed will include at-scale testing, sophisticated real-time surveillance, rigorous contact tracing, and targeted quarantine to isolate cases and contacts. Similarly, insurance companies play a pivotal role during times of economic stress given their mandates to help companies and households manage risks and cushion against losses.

Larger economic trends are being compounded by the Covid-19 shock. Global interest rates have never been this low at this point in an economic cycle. Banks have responded by extending loans to hard-hit borrowers and renegotiating credit terms. Meanwhile, members of Congress are calling on a ‘digital dollar’ for distributing the Covid-19 stimulus.

Global trade has had to face the impact of a sudden shock in the way companies transact. Supply chain disruptions are forcing a refocus around track and trace solutions and increasing market visibility. Meanwhile, banks facilitating trade finance are looking to government to accelerate the adoption of paperless trade agreements.

Even focusing on other large industries, like telecom, we see acute disruptions as a result of the dangers of human contact. For example, Covid-19 has stalled the rollout of 5G networks. Conversely, network capacity is proving resilient to huge demand from video conferencing, cloud and data services.

A new wave of innovation

Organizations considering entirely new digital offerings will have an advantage. For example, a recent McKinsey study found that top economic performers are far more likely to create entirely digital offerings.

Software vendors will play a massive role in modernizing the technology stacks of companies ranging from almost every industry and geographical location. With the explosion in the prevalence and accessibility of data leading up to this crisis, software vendors have an opportunity to implement new platform-based business models that drive collaboration between customers and provide control over the way data is shared and transactions are made.

Blockchain provides a foundational technology to enable this transition with the promise of a shared version of the truth, multi-party transparency, and industry-wide process automation. The Corda platform is being used by technology services providers globally to accelerate digital transformation with more collaborative solutions, while addressing the needs of enterprise IT environments, such as privacy, scalability, and settlement finality.

These software firms leveraging blockchain and other digital solutions have an opportunity to deliver a wave of solutions useful not only in this current Covid-19 crisis but also as a critical step in connecting and future-proofing industries for years to come.