innovation

It’s not 2028, but it might as well be from a digitization standpoint. According to McKinsey Research, the digital portfolios of many companies leapt forward by a whopping seven years. Why? Covid-related shifts in both workforce operations and consumer behaviors prompted organizations to change — and change fast.

In fact, digital acceleration happened across all industries, spurring incredible amounts of innovation. As a result, every sector experienced some type of disruption. And although the pandemic crisis appears to be waning, the innovation it fostered hasn’t interrupted its breakneck pace.

5 Examples of Accelerated Innovation Propelling Companies Forward

Which fields have been impacted the most in the past few months by innovative thinking, products, and services? Five major ones have undergone some serious reinvention.

1. Manufacturing

Practically every product has a manufacturing component. Take clothing and accessories, for example. From sourcing fabrics to constructing garments, the manufacturing process usually involves making and then storing items.

The problem, of course, is inventory and overage. Though many manufacturers have applied just-in-time principles over the years, they usually end up with extra merchandise. That merchandise routine often ends up being sold at a loss or discarded.

Again, the retail fashion industry has been notorious historically for an abundance of inventory. Frequently, retailers order so many garments that a full fifth of them never get purchased. Until now, no companies have found a way to shave down stockpiles without making customers wait endlessly for products. However, innovators like Gooten are offering a new option: on-demand manufacturing.

Gooten offers a catalog of products ready to be personalized and created on-demand. In addition, their process pares down the domestic manufacturing timeline to about three days per item. Consequently, Gooten’s partners avoid inventory management costs while getting merchandise to eager consumers rapidly.

2. Education

The education world changed radically in 2020. Whole schools moved their instruction online, forcing students, teachers, and administrators to rethink learning. Though remote classrooms weren’t new, they weren’t extensively embraced. Covid changed that entirely.

To be sure, schools are set to reopen and in-person instruction has already resumed in K-12 and college institutions. Nevertheless, schools aren’t about to discard what they’ve discovered about digital learning over the past year. Plus, they’re better equipped than ever to handle mass shifts to online education if the need arises.

Similarly, many companies have thrown their hat into the education ring, including Google. The search engine plans to create a series of professional degrees that take about a half year to finish. The degree programs will be affordable, as well as suitable to professionals at all levels. Like Google, Instructure’s Canvas is boosting its successful online learning platform.

Boasting around 30 million student users, Canvas is testing tools like flexible assessments to better serve those users. At this time, 14 states have adopted Canvas as a primary education platform for remote public school instruction purposes. As more states come aboard, students from all backgrounds may find it easier to access online learning.

3. Finance

Moving money in the B2B marketplace often involves clunky, time-consuming workflows. This means that businesses and their vendors may wait several days for transactions to post. Though these delays may sound inconsequential, they can cause friction points for all parties. For example, during the height of the pandemic, having dollars on hand could mean the difference between meeting or missing payroll.

The issue is that real-time payments have been out of reach for most companies. Yes, they can collect money quickly in some cases. Still, no carrier has offered true real-time paying capabilities. Yet FIS believes it’s on the cusp of being able to leap into a nearly real-time movement of funds.

FIS announced its innovative cloud-based product, RealNet, in early 2021. RealNet uses existing payment rails to shift money from place to place. RealNet’s smart-routing decision engine gauges each rail to determine the quickest payment route for each B2B transaction. This ensures that money quickly gets transferred, including money being moved across international boundaries.

Businesses are poised to benefit highly from real-time payments. So are consumers and even government entities. That means FIS’s single innovation could fuel sweeping changes across the financial landscape.

4. Healthcare

The Covid crisis spilled over into a healthcare crisis. People experienced lockdowns, hospitals became overcrowded, and medicine was put to the test. Amid the swirl of experimental treatments and vaccines, innovative companies attempted to fill healthcare gaps.

It’s hard to limit the examples of healthcare innovations to just a few. Perhaps one of the most dramatic was the use of drones. Not only did drones help drop ship supplies to people in remote communities, but they proved reliable and sturdy. Many providers predict that drones will come in useful for other similar applications.

Another pandemic-propelled innovation in medicine was the growth of 3D-printed supplies and parts. One writer from The New York Times even mused about the possibility of printing human tissue.

It wouldn’t be fair not to discuss the speedy evolution and embrace of telemedicine. Consumers and their providers made use of online portals to diagnose and treat a myriad of conditions. Normalizing telemedicine has increased patients’ comfort around requesting a time-saving digital appointment. Time will tell if the rise in telemedicine will correspond with improved patient compliance.

5. Transportation

During the shutdown period of Covid, many consumers worked from home. For some, losing their commute resulted in extra hours to engage in physical activities. Consequently, they scooped up physical fitness equipment so suddenly that they disrupted the exercise industry supply chain.

These former “couch potatoes” have started to return to more traditional office settings. Nevertheless, they haven’t all gotten rid of their desire to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This means plenty are more open to the idea of always or occasionally riding bikes to work.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent in European countries, although it’s growing in popularity in the United States. Yet many parking garages lack proper, safe storage spaces for bicycles. Enter Bike2Box. The company has designed a modular box that can store 12 bikes in a standard-sized parking spot.

The pandemic was a difficult struggle, no doubt about it. Nonetheless, it served as inspiration for innovations across a variety of industries. And those innovations will continue to spur other disruptive solutions for years to come.

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