How The COVID-19 Crisis Has Spurred Innovation Across Businesses And Industries

22 November 2020 AIthority Publication
Author(s): Michele M. Simkin

This article was originally posted on AIthority, and is republished here with permission.

COVID-19 crisis has shown us that the traditional ways of working aren’t always successful during such chaotic conditions. Countless companies have found themselves forced to adapt or fail. As such, we’ve watched businesses reimagine what their industries can look like and how to get things done in the face of distance and adversity.

Necessity has always been the mother of innovation – and COVID-19 Crisis is no different. Throughout the world, we’re seeing businesses work creatively and collaborate in ways we’ve never seen before. Some of these impressive and strategic shifts could very well reshape the world we know through the rest of COVID-19 and beyond.

Virtual Technology Amid Social Distancing

Businesses were hit hard by the havoc COVID-19 Crisis created around the workforce and workplace safety. Manufacturing was especially impacted due to its essential designation and need for in-person labor – while many businesses could issue a work from home order, manufacturing simply could not. As such, we’ve seen manufacturers look for unique ways to reduce transmission risk by limiting in-person attendance while still carrying out the work necessary to so many Americans and industries.

For example, manufacturing employees wearing a variation of Google Glasses enable engineers to see what line workers are doing, diagnose any issues, make recommendations and ensure efficiency – all from a distance. Expect to see more of this tech, especially in the AR/VR spaces as industries recognize new benefits of virtual services amid the current crisis.

Collaboration Between Companies and Government

The poster child for this effort is the FDA’s work with pharma companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve never before seen the speed at which the FDA is approving and pushing forward vaccine trials to end the pandemic as soon as possible. While these types of approvals have traditionally taken a very long time, the FDA and pharma companies are doing what’s necessary, while still safe, to move efforts forward.

Innovative Practices to Combat the Virus

Countless companies are developing significant inventions for sterilizing and tracing viruses more effectively as a result of the pandemic. From advanced air filters on planes to sprays killing COVID-19, we’ve seen rapid innovation. Thinking back to when COVID-19 first came to America to the present day, we’ve seen amazing progress in fast and accurate diagnostics. The efforts have paid off as well. For example, colleges conducting frequent COVID-19 testing, such as through pooled sample testing, have a much better chance of managing the safety of on-campus students. As testing continues to be a main factor in identifying the virus and enabling society to live more normally, we’ll continue to make progress here.

Pharma’s Increased Investment in Data

Amid the pandemic, more pharma companies have recognized the value of data, AI and machine learning. We’re even seeing some large companies hire their first AI scientists.

Historically, pharma has been slow to adopt data-focused initiatives. Healthcare and drug costs can be expensive because consumers are paying for both the successful drugs as well as the failed attempts that led to the final product. With the same number of drugs failing phases 1 and 2 of trials now as 10 years ago, an emphasis on data-driven techniques can help companies get better at predicting which drugs will work and how to more efficiently develop healthcare. As well, with a more diverse team (consisting of researchers, data scientists, medical experts), companies can find unique, innovative ways to advance healthcare forward.

A similar data-driven strategy is being put forward with the use of AI to predict the spread of COVID-19. By aggregating data and using AI to predict the areas most at risk, more hyper-focused and proactive management is possible. With this strategy, resources can be distributed more efficiently to help those most at risk.

Unprecedented B2B Partnerships

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the race for a vaccine has been seeing the level of collaboration taking place. Successfully developing and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine is requiring partnerships among life science and high-tech. The distribution will require leveraging manufacturer know-how in mass production/infrastructure systems – something that’s already in the works in anticipation of the vaccine. Companies who are normally competitors are teaming up, sharing information and working towards a common goal. The Moderna and Pfizer announcements regarding their respective vaccine successes, for example, were made possible by a high level of collaboration.

Innovation and Collaboration Moving Forward

At a basic level, COVID-19 has shown us that, when faced with a challenge, businesses are teaming up to get things done. This includes companies, big and small, government agencies, individuals, and beyond. The business landscape won’t be the same for many reasons after the COVID-19. However, the innovations and collaboration birthed during this pandemic will have permanent impacts beyond the COVID-19.

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