What should we expect for 2021?

In December 2014 I was requested to write on my take of 2015; since then, I had not written about my take on the new year to come. I think 2021 is very expected and how it may look like to do business, in the beginning of, what is next, after the world had been turned upside down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also exciting since we are very close to a vaccine being approved for this novel virus. There are a handful of successful vaccines developed in an unprecedented super speed that have proven effective in clinical trials. This is my take on information gathered from news and reports on the subject matter, so I hope I hit the mark and it serves you as an idea of what´s next.

 The probability of a vaccine approval in December is so high, I´m going to assume it will happen as expected. You may think that is like declaring a war ending. All should go to normal almost the next day but very far from that. Listening to Lawrence “Larry” Brilliant, an epidemiologist that is most recognized for his work with WHO and the eradication of smallpox. A Vaccine is just the beginning of a new face in this battle. The vaccination will be a process with a lot of design and strategy if we want the vaccine to succeed. It will take a couple of years for the process. So, we will go to Pandemic mode to a new phase where hot spots will be on the eye of everyone. Like the end of putting away a fire. You go from large to small, hitting with targeted efforts.  There is an awesome supply chain put in place that the world never seen before. The vaccines have been under production for some months and are sitting waiting for approval. Many need special cold temperature chains since they are very sensitive. Special planes, facilities and equipment have been put into place. We are headed for a good start.

 The first couple of months will be around the different disrupted business and business models. I would like to touch base in a couple of them.

Retail

Retail business have been moving towards online shopping for a while. The pandemic accelerated the move to online business and social media marketing. There is no turning back. A few items will still have boutique style shops like high end clothing and specialty items. The everyday consumables will keep a strong hold to the new online experience. It only makes sense it has a personal feel that will delight the buyer even better than before. The supply chain will move to this digital online era for good. Warehouses, distribution and inventory all connected to the shopping experience.

Business Travel

Bill Gates came out predicting that 50% of all business travel is lost. The pandemic proved and moved business to the now commonplace of the virtual meeting. Why spend time and money on sending executives if business matters can be handled virtually. Not all can be done this way of course. Some commercial matters where one to one negotiation need that personal interaction. Visit to facilities, review and evaluations. All those need that remaining business travel left to a few not a common place anymore.

Office Space

The other item affected that Bill Gates mentioned was office space. In this case 30% is already lost. Who will want to pay for unused space? Most of the corporate world had to let go to a chunk of space due to the virtual world taking its place.

Large Gatherings

For the most part of 2021, we won’t see much of large gatherings of any kind. At this point is hard to predict but, in my opinion, I think this is not lost. The human raze is being gathering since ancient times and it´s part of our nature. I think it will come back on 2022 and beyond as the vaccination process advance and is successful. First small venues and then larger and larger events. Events like sports and movies will be first and then theater and music concerts but it will take a while, a couple of years at least.

The Supply Chain

 So, to summarize 2021 will be the vaccination year, all the attention will be on this effort. Eventually the number of hospitalizations, deaths and cases will start to drop and towards the end of the year will begin a comeback or the new normal that will settle in 2022 and beyond. For the supply chain, procurement and strategic sourcing there is no turning back, we will live in the virtual, digital new normal for sure. Being a very flexible, adaptive, cognitive supply chain to meet the new business models.

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