Every topic covered in 2020 has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. A major event that will transform the way we live, we work and we travel is bound to be a central focus for all of us, especially now, as we live through it.

From a perspective of emerging technologies and innovations, COVID-19 has been a transformative experience that has forced all of us to take a look at our own lives, professional and personal, from a different perspective. COVID-19 will highlight the need to be quicker about developing some of the technologies that have been labeled as “emerging” for a decade now. Sadly, the economic downturn will also make funds for research and development even more scarce, delaying the final production of these products and services.

Here are the 5 emerging technologies and issues highlighted by the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, and how those opportunities would have benefited us all.

  1. Autonomous Vehicles. The recent pandemic showed that when an outbreak of a previously unknown disease occurs, human contact becomes a peril. Fully Autonomous Vehicles would have made all the difference – taxis with no drivers, automated medical deliveries, self-driving trucks ensuring that all areas you can reach by the road are receiving necessary supplies.
  2. A more diverse, flexible workplace. Only a year ago it would have seemed like a distant future vision – everybody who can work from home, working from home. For many employers it was impractical. For some, it was something they never got around to. And suddenly, it was the only way for a company to survive. Such is the power of necessity. It has shown us that good employees get their work done, either from the office or from a park bench; either from a workstation or from their phone. It’s up to every company to determine which model works best for them, but, obviously, the capacity exists.
  3. Cyber Exposure. The closing of many businesses throughout the world has forced business owners to shift their approach. Small, local grocery stores that were happy with reaching their clientele in a regular fashion faced a question – go online or go extinct. The faster they accepted that going online is the only way forward, at least during the pandemic, the better their results have been. And in that process, they may have decided that they wish to employ both business models, or only one. But it seems like a lot of companies don’t want to go online because it seems cumbersome, and both online exposures, online services, and the risk management that follows those exposures and services should be simplified and more available to your local “mom and pop” store.
  4. Technology Adoption and Innovation. The spread of COVID-19 has dramatically changed our world, upending everything from our daily routines to where and how we can work. And while these changes have created a lot of uncertainty and speculation about the future, we also are already seeing significant shifts in how we do business, and in some cases, an acceleration of change that has long been on the horizon. Mobile and digital adoption have been pushed to the forefront, even more so than they already were, creating a new normal for how business gets done across the economy. Ideas such as contactless drone inspections, self-service portals for policyholders, increased ubiquity of smartphones are now becoming reality. 
  5. InsurTech Development. The adverse effects of COVID-19 were immediately felt across the globe and all industry fields. These losses will certainly slow down future technological progress. Investments in Robotics and InsurTech also lowered, but not to the extent that hit other industries. Insurtech funding will continue to wane as the near-term economic picture remains uncertain, which will drive investors and insurers alike to deploy capital preservation strategies. For insurers, however, it’s important that they continue to invest in digital capabilities that will elevate customer experience and drive operational improvements. Customers want to transact using a variety of touchpoints, and as COVID-19 has shown us, having a digital infrastructure can help insurers to provide the digital experiences customers expect.

COVID-19 is a transformational event. It’s transformational even of such scale and magnitude that it will affect other services, trends, and changes within the industry that were transformational in their own right.