As 2020 draws to a close, many people can be grateful to bid farewell to a year like no different, one fraught with worry, unhappiness and challenges.
Yet, regardless of the hardship of the coronavirus pandemic, this year may even go down as a momentous one for all the speedy developments it has caused — lots of which promise a brighter future.
“Even though the pandemic’s been terrible, it has pushed some of these innovations, including in how quickly we make vaccines,” Bill Gates mentioned not too long ago the Singapore FinTech Festival. “So there is a bright side and we just need to take full advantage of that while not forgetting that we were not prepared.”
CNBC Make It spoke to consultants about a few of the main breakthroughs achieved this year and the positive shifts they foretell for 2021 and past.
Perhaps the most important development this year has been in well being care. In below a year, medical consultants developed, accredited and commenced to roll out not one, however a number of, Covid-19 vaccines.
Such speedy progress bodes effectively each for ending the present pandemic, and likewise for the future manufacturing and supply of life-saving medicines.
“In several years, today’s record-breaking digitalized manufacturing will have become the norm for delivering life-saving therapies to patients,” mentioned Jim Nyquist, president of Emerson, which gives know-how to pharmaceutical firms.
Meanwhile, strict lockdowns and social distancing measures pressured practitioners and sufferers to undertake distant medical providers. The American Medical Association now estimates no less than 90% of physicians have handled sufferers remotely, with greater than two-thirds anticipating telehealth to have a long-term affect on how they see sufferers.
“Before Covid-19, telemedicine was an ambitious project in order to reach underserved or rural areas that did not have medical personnel,” mentioned Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, psychologist and professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Now, because of the virus, many — if not most — medical/therapy visits are done primarily by telemedicine,” he mentioned, predicting the development might assist sufferers effectively past the pandemic.
From lethal wildfires in Australia and the U.S. to cyclones in India, 2020 has seen report local weather destruction. But with worldwide borders closed for the finest a part of this year and fewer international journey, the pandemic has additionally introduced some reprieve for the surroundings.
“With reduced air and business travel and fewer commuters on the roads, the air quality improved drastically — particularly in large metro areas,” mentioned John Mullen, president of Capgemini North America.
Major cities noticed unprecedented declines in emissions and carbon monoxide ranges as street visitors plummeted, offering new environmental information. According to UC Berkley, it took solely six weeks after San Francisco’s first shelter-in-place for regional carbon dioxide emissions to drop 25%.
Elsewhere, such information additionally prompted some governments and companies to agency up their dedication to sustainable initiatives.
“The experience provided an unprecedented demonstration of what is possible with a cleaner future,” mentioned Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree, whose know-how powers electrical autos and renewable power infrastructure.
“We think (that) will resonate well beyond the pandemic and expect (it) to be a positive catalyst for clean transportation,” he mentioned, noting that over 20 international locations now have plans to section out gas-powered autos.
2020 has been a revelation for training, as college students, educators and — typically dad and mom — grappled with on-line classes. Distance studying just isn’t new. Yet advocates say this year has given society the push it wanted to settle for digital classes as one in every of many necessary types of training.
“Online learning is becoming mainstream. Parents and students alike are seeing a benefit in learning online,” Divya Gokulnath co-founder of Indian training know-how platform Byju’s mentioned earlier this year.
Such acceptance is very necessary for narrowing the instructional divide and offering higher instruments for underserved markets, mentioned Ted Sun, psychologist and president of Transcontinental University.
“Even though many universities are doing a poor job of distance education, the fact the major brands are doing it has made it more accepted by people across the world,” he mentioned. “This opens the door to many online schools to penetrate other markets across the world.”
This year has additionally caused large adjustments in the office. As employers carried out distant work insurance policies, staff had to adapt rapidly to at-home places of work.
For many, that got here with the problem of juggling tasks, however it additionally allowed for extra autonomy, flexibility and, doubtlessly, free time.
“We’ve kicked off a new era of work that is more flexible, employee-friendly and efficient. We no longer have to adhere to the traditional in-office, 9-5 workday that tied work to time and location,” mentioned Peter Jackson, CEO of office software program firm Bluescape.
According to a 2020 Gallup survey, three in 5 U.S. staff now say they would favor to work from residence even after public well being restrictions carry. As the development extends into 2021, DeAnne Aussem, management improvement and well-being chief at PwC, mentioned employers should guarantee they’re additionally looking for workers’s private well-being.
“This year has been a big win for the evolution of how organizations view the employee experience,” mentioned Aussem. “Moving forward, I’m hopeful more companies will begin to follow suit in introducing flexible work environments that meet the needs of working parents, employees experiencing burnout, and those who simply need an extra breather.”
The killing of George Floyd in March this year sparked worldwide protests and reignited the dialog round racial inequality.
The incident led governments and companies to rise up and condemn racism and make a few of their most important pledges but to degree the taking part in area for minorities.
Earlier this year, BlackRock, Microsoft and Target have been amongst the main firms to pledge better hiring of minority staff. Meanwhile, this month, Nasdaq introduced it should now require all firms listed on its inventory trade to have no less than one director from a minority group.
Sevin Yeltekin, dean of Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, mentioned she is hopeful such commitments might spell actual change going ahead. “Not only is it past time for us as a society to reshape our beliefs and policies on diversity, inclusion, and access, but there is also a clear business case for diversity,” she mentioned.
“The announcement from Nasdaq is significant because business is an influence that can transform us as a society. I hope that this move is the first wave in a tide of change, and the key to a successful rollout is in the execution.”
The sudden and sweeping socioeconomic affect of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit companies exhausting this year. In order to survive, firms have been pressured to adapt rapidly — or change fully.
While devastating for a lot of, that shift additionally paved the method for brand spanking new innovation and quick tracked a few of the industries of the future, mentioned Capgemini’s Mullen.
“Online ordering and contactless transaction models for grocery stores and restaurants, who each adapted almost instantly to their customers’ changing buying behaviors in order to meet demand,” he mentioned. “By speeding up these evolutions, industries realized how quickly they can transform — and will likely enable their next innovations at a faster rate.”
With worldwide borders largely closed this year, journey as we as soon as knew it has been largely off-limits. But fewer enterprise journeys and extra time spent in residence international locations have granted us the alternative to discover a few of the hidden gems on our very personal doorsteps.
This year, as holidaymakers sought the nice outdoor, nationwide parks, seashores and ski resorts changed main cities as vacationers’ most well-liked journey locations, in accordance to Airbnb’s current journey tendencies report. That’s a theme the trip website expects to prolong into 2021.
“As uncertainty persists, domestic travel will continue to be a key trend in 2021,” the report mentioned, citing a current survey wherein 62% of individuals surveyed mentioned they have been curious about taking a trip inside driving distance of residence. A complete of 1,010 adults in the U.S. have been surveyed from Sept. 15-19.
“That doesn’t mean travelers aren’t having new, exciting adventures where they’re staying,” Airbnb’s report added. “Guests are expanding their horizons and seeking unique travel experiences by staying in one-of-a-kind stays,” it mentioned, highlighting rising demand for stays in yurts, treehouses and barns.
The worldwide highlight has been on well being this year, and with extra folks at residence and fewer time spent commuting, many have taken the alternative to try to enhance our general well-being.
From digital exercises to meditation and residential cooking, the current uptake has accelerated an already fast-growing wellness business.
That has additionally spurred better consciousness round the place our meals comes from. Chuck Templeton, founding father of restaurant reservation website OpenTable and managing director of S2G Venture, which invests in agriculture know-how start-ups, mentioned that bodes effectively for brand spanking new, extra sustainable technique of meals manufacturing.
“While Covid-19 has exposed vulnerabilities across the food supply chain — from soil to shelf — it also accelerated industry trends that are helping to solve many of today’s most pressing issues, from climate change to food insecurity to food that nourishes our bodies,” he mentioned, citing plant-based merchandise, cultured protein and meals waste discount applied sciences.
Physical distance from household, associates and colleagues has been robust for a lot of this year. New applied sciences and digital communication instruments have gone a way to easing that toll, nevertheless, with social media and assembly instruments such as Zoom seeing runaway success as extra folks search connection from afar.
The use of such instruments additionally made it simpler to discover connectivity throughout a time of surprising isolation, mentioned Katie Foss, a media professor at Middle Tennessee State University.
“We have never been able to learn about others’ experiences in real-time during a pandemic before. Our video-sharing and social media platforms have enabled people to connect with each other on a global scale in a way that’s never been done before,” she mentioned, citing masks tutorials in South Korea and balcony singers in Naples.
“These types of connection have showcased both hope and humanity and have demonstrated just what technology can allow us to do.”
The bread baking craze might have subsided, however with extra time at residence this year, extra folks have been specializing in private improvement and studying new abilities.
LinkedIn Learning, for one, recorded a 300% year-on-year uptick in time spent on its studying platform in Singapore. Elsewhere, throughout the top of lockdowns, inventive studying website Skillshare noticed a four-times surge in each new person sign-ups and time spent watching tutorials.
“For many people, this time spent on personal and professional growth this past year has been rooted in a more deliberate focus on mental health and well-being,” mentioned Skillshare’s CEO Matt Cooper.
“I hope that the increased focus on expanding our creative horizons will become an ingrained habit in 2021 and beyond.”
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