Despite the fear of the unknown, the pandemic and its subsequent economic challenges present a defining moment. Businesses have the opportunity to emerge stronger and forge deeper relationships with customers, partners, and build companies that are better adapted to tomorrow’s world. The COVID-19 outbreak is unlike any previous crisis and traditional crisis-response approaches are not fit for purpose. As business leaders are thrust into situations requiring swift and effective action to ensure the survival of their organisations,
many are left questioning whether their industries will be able to adapt to the new reality.
What can CEOs anticipate in the post-coronavirus world? With the accelerated adoption of digital commerce as a result of the pandemic, will consumers return to traditional retail behavioural patterns, or will the migration to digital fundamentally reshape the global economy?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of global supply chains to unprecedented shocks. Attention is being placed on the need for global businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and adopt smarter and risk-adjusted business models.
As we progressively reduce physical interaction – be it customer-facing or across operations, automation and digitalisation have become vital for businesses to ensure survival.
Fortunately, new technologies are emerging that improve visibility across the supply chain and thus support a company’s resilience to such shocks.
More than two thirds of world trade occur through Global Value Chains (GVCs) where production crosses borders before making it to final assembly lines. Digital developments are transforming these GVCs by creating a new digital thread, allowing for advanced systems of traceability and improved logistics and planning. Moreover, 4IR and its technological advancements have the potential to overcome the physical barriers imposed by the pandemic to give societies the digital freedom to achieve economic and social prosperity.
The biggest fear today, with the ongoing developments of COVID-19, is the impact on the global economy and the uncertainty as to when the world will reopen for business. Largescale quarantines, travel restrictions, and social-distancing measures have driven a sharp fall in consumer and business spending, with all indications that the global economy is barrelling towards a severe recession. Furthermore, COVID-19 has brought economic inequalities to the fore, including those around gender. Women are not only paid less than men, but they make up 75% of global healthcare workers. Without a return to normality on the horizon, and as business conditions worsen leading to higher unemployment and a stall in
production, a recession will prolong the global slump.
Sponsors can host virtual chat rooms with specific themes. This would be open to attendees for Q&A, and an opportunity to engage with speakers, partners etc.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, there is growing concern about technology’s impact on the future of work, as this could accelerate the perceived “rise of the
robots” and the threat to employment. Given that most factory floors are currently shutdown, we will likely see a spike in automation and introduction of new business models, meaning some of the jobs lost during the pandemic may never return as companies
restructure their operations to rely more on machines. The industries where the workforce is most likely to be affected is food and beverage, transportation and manufacturing. However, even big tech companies realise that heavily automated industries still rely on humans for essential tasks, and we may still be far away from revamping factories
to adopt full automation. Even during the current crisis, where the need for automation has become more apparent, economiesstill falter without human workers, as machines still lack
human intelligence and adaptability. What is important for the workforce is to leverage the educational strategies and policies which are required to keep up with the fast-changing
employment needs of the industrial sector. Educational systems need to change towards new curricula and new means of delivery with the goal of improved quality of education
(SDG4). Related issues include the following:
As the virus spreads across continents and affects vital industries including healthcare, education and telecommunications, companies within these sectors are facing new realities
that go beyond addressing the virus itself. The healthcare industry is recognising the importance of technology in accelerating scientific research on sustainable solutions for
future emergence of pathogens, drug development and more, by leveraging big and realtime data to guide operational decisions.
Likewise, the sudden shift of the global workforce entering remote work is driving unprecedented demand on telecommunications infrastructure and connectivity. Cancelled domestic and global business travel further strains the networks with increased reliance on virtual meetings and mobile communications.
However there lies an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of technologies and leverage
them to drive production during these challenging times, when labour is for the most part,unavailable. We are witnessing a radical shift in traditional business models, where most companies have reimagined the ‘office’ workspace through virtual conferencing tools.
The vast variety of 4IR technologies make it difficult for companies to choose technologies relevant for them. It is argued that standardisation of these technologies could help
companies decide which ones are useful. This session will review the current trends in absorbing digital technology worldwide and evaluate the opportunities for a systematisation of such technologies through international institutions to create
transparency and standards. Furthermore, with the outbreak of COVID-19, policymakers need to act quickly to strategically formulate a relevant set of standards as there is a greater shift towards digital usage.
Innovation, creativity and necessity remain the driving forces behind the advancement of humanity and the acceleration of global good. The spike in current demand for E-learning,
due to COVID-19, is encouraging new waves of education systems that are increasingly innovative, inclusive and sustainable. While digitisation offers opportunities to bridge the
educational gap by providing cheaper and more accessible ways to learn, the current pandemic has exposed the existing digital divide between developed and developing countries. Whereby, the least developed countries (LDCs) remain the most vulnerable to the human and economic impact endured from a crisis.
The coronavirus crisis gripping the global economy has forced clean energy efforts to
significantly slow down, as the pandemic is undermining the importance to combat climate
change. Furthermore, oil prices have considerably dropped affecting the global movement
towards adopting renewable energy. The manufacturing industry faces challenges in reducing carbon emissions from energy-intensive sectors such as aviation, shipping, trucking and heavy industry. Decarbonizing these sectors with today’s innovative technology is both
doable and affordable and as governments devise economic stimulus packages, it is important to encourage efforts to drive climate action and invest in low-carbon to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, so as not to compromise clean energy transitions.
Despite the current global crisis, many countries have commitments to move towards a carbon-neutral future and have significant reduction plans in place.