The business world responded to the COVID-19 crisis with swiftness and efficiency, with their main priority being to effectively manage the crisis and resume operations. However, as with anything done quickly, there were some hiccups along the way.
But as the length of the pandemic grew from weeks to months, many owners were unable to keep their businesses above water without irreversible damage. As we enter 2021, businesses are now looking forward to a post-pandemic world. Unfortunately, the post-pandemic world is unlikely to be anything like what it was beforehand.
Some of these future hurdles are clear to see, while others will come out of nowhere and catch them off guard. With that said, here are five unforeseen post-pandemic challenges that businesses may face in 2021:
1. Accelerated Change
Many business leaders point to the unprecedented pace of change they have seen in their organization and the interactions they’re having with their clients. The year 2021 promises an even greater acceleration when it comes to change.
Some of these changes will be driven by internal factors. However, most change will be a reflection of external factors. Businesses are upgrading their technology and their marketing strategies to stay ahead of the post-pandemic game.
2021 will further accelerate technological transformation with advances in communication and data digitization driving this forward. Ecommerce, already a growing force in the online business world, will take on a greater role in 2021. Many businesses with physical locations were forced to switch to online sales out of necessity in 2020. Now, they have had time to set up their online businesses and many have decided to close their brick and mortar stores permanently to focus on eCommerce selling.
2. Increased government intervention
The coronavirus pandemic has been marked by an increase in government intervention. Whether it’s the government intervening to protect public health or to provide financial stimulus to struggling businesses, these endeavors made by governments around the globe have been key to giving businesses the tools they need to survive.
In the United States, President Biden is preparing a new upcoming $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package for small struggling businesses and individuals. This comes on the heels of over two million Americans filing for first time jobless benefits in January alone, which serves as a painful reminder that the economic recovery is far from over.
Businesses understand that in the current environment they will need the government to provide financial and regulatory support if their industries are going to survive. So it won’t be too bold to anticipate greater government involvement in all things business moving forward.
3. Difficulty Raising Capital
Raising capital has always been a primary concern for businesses. Now that full financial recovery is uncertain, the process of finding investors and raising capital has become even harder. Investors stand to lose more money now than they did this time last year.
As a result, struggling businesses are looking to government intervention for their economic survival as they have the funds and resources to take on this level of risk that private institutions do not. Whether a business owner can achieve access to capital and produce a return on their investment may literally mean the difference between whether or not they can remain in operation.
4. A Resurgence of Nationalism
Prior to the pandemic, globalization was assumed to be a foregone conclusion and that organizations would interact with vendors and sellers all over the globe. However, the coronavirus pandemic led to the closing of borders, which has negatively impacted supply chains.
The ripple effects of this disruption were powerful. When governments, private businesses, and individuals found it difficult to gain access to necessary materials (such as medications and personal protection equipment) the downside of globalization became apparent.
Now, businesses are focusing on strengthening domestic supply chains. However, this does not mean that post-pandemic globalization will cease to exist. Governments will continue to promote an interconnected economy, however, national procurement strategies and requirements will be strengthened. Because of these changes, companies are choosing to source their products and services locally over global trading.
When there are no longer incentives for businesses to use offshore supply chains, business leaders must reformulate and review these supply chains, create new strategies, and focus on redundancy and diversification with the goal of minimizing tax liability and political blowback.
5. Increased Taxation
Businesses around the world welcomed stimulus packages offered by their local governments, but of course, there is no such thing as free money. As a result, something business owners must become prepared for is setting aside extra cash to pay higher taxes for the next few years
That’s because world governments will likely turn to the business community by increasing business taxes to make up for the vast amounts given via financial rescue packages. Governments are also likely to penalize organizations that opt to transfer their business operations to jurisdictions with lower taxes.
6. Increase in Cyberattacks
2020 will also be remembered as the year that the number of cyberattacks exploded and cyber incidents transformed businesses, technology, and society as a whole in numerous ways. With a 250% increase in cyberattacks over the last year, it’s now more important than ever to implement high-quality security systems that protect and safeguard digital assets and sensitive data from cybercriminals.
This means investing and implementing cybersecurity solutions from the ground up from strengthening supply chains, training employees, to securing hosting solutions to tackle trending cybersecurity issues that are predicted to grow in 2021. Especially as more businesses are forced to go online to conduct operations, ensuring the security of their websites against the increasing threat of cybercriminals is of paramount importance.
Not prioritizing security when choosing web hosting solutions could lead to data breaches, which could damage a business permanently. This is becoming a particular concern for small to medium businesses that don’t have the capacity to allocate a healthy budget to cybersecurity solutions, so they opt for cheap or free solutions. Unfortunately, this could end up becoming a major mistake that does more harm than good.
The Canadian Centre For Cyber Security highlighted this threat in a cyber threat report released last year, pointing out how certain web hosts loaded with malware would draw users in with malicious links disguised as legitimate COVID self-assessment resources, only to redirect users who clicked on the link.
Gary Stevens, a web developer and cybersecurity enthusiast from Hosting Canada, explains further: “You definitely get what you pay for with web hosting. There are all kinds of scams in the web hosting industry, as companies offer low rates to get customers who don’t know any better. These hosts often make millions while using very low-quality servers, which leaves them vulnerable to security breaches”.
These six unforeseen challenges are just the tip of the post-pandemic iceberg. When looking back at the struggles business owners have had to go through in 2020, many countries have also been dealing with political and social unrest, environmental crises, and equality concerns.
Meanwhile, business owners have responded by focusing on social issues in their communities and pivoting their businesses to reflect where they stand on these issues. Preparing for the unforeseen is challenging, especially when it seems like the landscape is changing every single day. Success will depend on a company’s ability to address, navigate and adapt to evolving risk.
In addition to learning from the past, business leaders will need to learn for the future. This means taking advantage of opportunities now to put themselves in the best position to respond to the inevitable challenges that 2021 will bring.
Coronavirus office workers with mask -DepositPhotos