Ravenscroft Group | Shannon Lancaster
23 Feb 21
Technology will be at the centre of the post-Covid "normal"
In this article written for Business Brief, investment analyst Shannon Lancaster looks at how digital transformation will shape the post-Covid world.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered an acceleration in digital transformation on an unprecedented scale, and the trend is set to continue this year. A year ago, while we at Ravenscroft would have been confident our investment themes (global brands, healthcare, emerging consumption and technology) would have continued to grow, we could not have imagined the dramatic changes the world would witness over such a short period. As we reviewed 2020, we came to conclusion that our themes were more than just in tact – they were stronger than ever and had bolstered by a common thread - technology and innovation.
If you had somehow miraculously made it to 2020 without technology playing a major role in your life, then this past year would have dragged you into the digital age whether you liked it or not. “You are on mute!”, became the catchphrase of the year as we Zoomed our way through our remote working days from our kitchen tables and spare bedrooms. With increased scrutiny on our health, some visited doctors virtually as physical healthcare facilities closed. Remote learning became a part of the daily routine for children and parents. Teachers got to grips with delivering their classes virtually.
Online shopping became the norm as the majority of retailers were ordered to close their doors and customers were advised to avoid going to supermarkets if possible. Businesses that previously didn’t offer delivery had to adapt and those that did had to scale rapidly. Websites crashed and online payment providers were put under pressure as we moved online at scale. Businesses fast tracked changes that were already underway like transitioning to the cloud, allowing employees to work remotely, or more widespread use of automation. In some cases these changes resulted in more efficiency, lower costs and at times have a lesser impact on the environment. After months living with these services, it is likely that these shifts in business and consumer behaviour will continue after the pandemic. As measures to flatten the infection curve like non-essential shop closure and lockdowns are scaled back, a steeper technology adoption curve will remain which will be built upon rather than reversed. This could mean an increase in technology in our daily lives rather than a decrease.
The developments were not only evident in developed markets but consumers in emerging countries were catapulted into a more digital way of life too. The framework was already in place for this growth and many in emerging markets were in the process of moving to a more digital existence. The combination of easily accessible internet, trustworthy cashless payment options and established ecommerce businesses meant that emerging markets made leaps in adopting technology. Despite making huge progress in a short amount of time, there is plenty of growth to come in these countries as internet penetration increases and the infrastructure for online consumption spreads. Emerging markets also benefit from having favourable demographics, younger populations tend to embrace technological changes better than older ones. When Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said, “We've seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months", I assume he was talking about developed markets – you can only imagine how much innovation was crammed into a matter of months for these emerging market countries.
As the vaccine roll out continues, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. As we consider what life might be like post-Covid, it’s clear that technology will be central to whatever the ‘new normal’ is for us. Our lives will remain digital in the areas where it brings more convenience, flexibility, efficiency and accessibility. We believe there are companies that stand to benefit from the broadening technology adoption and they will require investment to facilitate scalable connectivity. As a result, there are many attractive investment opportunities in the technology and innovation space and we will be taking advantage of those for the benefit of our clients.
As the world continues to change rapidly, the only real certainty is that we are due for even more transformation. There is a wonderful quote by C.S. Lewis “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind", we should keep this in mind as we look forward and wonder what role technology will play in our lives in the future.