In early 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic erupted in the United States and quickly spread to every state, city, and town. By the end of the year, it had infected nearly 20 million people and caused 344,000 deaths. It disrupted the national economy. It did this in two ways: directly, by making people sick and overloading the nation’s hospitals; and indirectly, by forcing state governments to close businesses and schools, thereby crippling the economy and creating high unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression.

I call this massive disruption the C19 economy. Its effects will last years after the vaccine has allowed Americans to return to some semblance of normalcy. In addition to the effects of the C19 economy and the 21st century “new normal” business environment of accelerating innovation and rapid change, the future of your enterprise will be shaped by forces of disruption. Here are four of the biggest:

Technology

In the healthcare industry, during the pandemic, overwhelmed hospitals and clinics became bottlenecks, disrupting the normal flow of non-COVID patients. This helped push healthcare constituents online and created more opportunities for self-care and preventive care. Every day, the Internet of Things, mobile devices, and artificial intelligence (AI) are moving diagnostics from hospitals to our home computers, smartphones, and miniaturized digital diagnostic devices worn on the body.

Insurance, banking, and other industries are boosting customer value with mobile solutions. Insurers are looking to cement fintech partnerships, allowing them to move away from reliance on legacy systems, operate at lower costs, and improve the customer experience with user-centric mobile products.

Innovators in security analytics and machine learning will grow and dominate.

Traditional manufacturing companies, such as auto makers, will morph into tech organizations. (This is happening now with Tesla.)

Customer Expectations

This blog post is some highlights from my book The Innovation Superstar(r) Playbook

Companies need to accept the fact that at every touchpoint, customers are looking for total freedom from friction, and incremental improvements in the way in which companies deliver relevant, custom, and exceptional experiences are accelerating rapidly.

Customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the notion of, “With one click, I can get whatever I want—from a new car to prescription medications—delivered to my door.” And while COVID-19 destroyed the old-fashioned shopping experience and the pleasure of browsing through a charming storefront boutique, after the pandemic has subsided those are expected to rebound. Will you be ready? While shopping malls may never fully return, the in-person shopping sector may (almost ironically!) be at the center of retail innovation.

Companies that are agile and quickly adapt to the changing demands of customers will recover more rapidly and be better positioned than competitors. Businesses that can’t keep up—much less lead—will fail.

New Economic Models

New economic models are displacing traditional ones, and in fact economic model innovation is the low hanging fruit for C19 economy innovators.

The C19 economy is characterized by a festering pandemic, continued climate crisis, gender and race inequalities, social unrest due to high levels of income inequality, and the need for a new and more equitable social contract. The old models of trade and making business proved that the traditional supply chain was only as strong as its weakest link—and during the pandemic we found there were plenty of weak links! A new model is emerging that makes the world a more connected and vibrant place for everyone, both today and for future generations.

Value Layering

The best C19 economy innovators are creating layers of value that lie atop the original product. For example, the iPhone didn’t become just a better telephone, it became an indispensable human appendage. It is how we navigate, make decisions, connect to others, and learn about the world.

Digital blood sugar monitors that adhere to your skin and do not require fingerpricks are not just better blood-sampling tools for people with diabetes. They deliver personal freedom, an end to pain, and a better quality of life.

Value layering is also a dynamic phenomenon, meaning that not only do our value layering disruptors create additional value in their products and services, they are also making their value dynamic. To use the iPhone as an example again, every morning when you wake up, your iPhone is more valuable to you, because overnight, it’s likely there have been more free apps made available that you can download and use to improve the core value of the iPhone platform.

This book is about not only understanding the increasing pace of disruption and innovation, which has become particularly acute in the C19 economy, but leveraging it to your advantage. It will take you step-by-step through the Innovation Superstar program, and at the end of your journey you’ll be well equipped to identify sources of disruption and opportunity (they come disguised as each other), strategize on how to capitalize on them, launch the necessary initiatives, sustain them so that they have the maximum impact, evaluate their success, and—most importantly—make day-to-day innovation a fundamental component of your overall business plan and objectives.

Success in business is based on the following principles: As a business owner or executive, your ultimate responsibility is to deliver value, in the form of profits, to your investors. You must do this in a business environment that is increasingly competitive and buffeted by disruption, not only by a global pandemic but by the relentless pace of innovation. Under these conditions, the only way to achieve and maintain market dominance is to consistently deliver more value to your customers than your competitors. How do you do this? By constantly improving your product or service, your supply chain, your hiring practices, your marketing, and every aspect of your business. Improvement comes in the form of innovation, which is why the Innovation Superstar is uniquely prepared for long-term growth and success.