The outbreak of Covid-19 is having significant impacts on businesses and industries. The epidemic is rapidly spreading all around the world, while the infection within China has sharply slowed in the past week, so it’s time for the country to react to mitigate the economic and societal impacts, adapt to the changes, and prepare for the bounce back in new opportunities.

As reported on the World Economic Forum blog, China is urged to balance imperatives between disease control, business recovery and population movement, considering that annual GDP growth is expected to slow down to between 5 and 5.5% for 2020.

The Covid-19 experience dramatically taught that a safe and healthy living environment should be considered equally, if not more important than economic growth. The health system proved its capability during the outbreak, however earlier issue detection and prevention will be crucial for a more efficient and effective public health and management system.

Public-private partnerships have strengthened: the Chinese government is expected to be more open for collaboration, while businesses have developed capabilities and a willingness to contribute more to public goods. This might encourage a more professional and transparent collaboration for public agendas.

The Covid-19 outbreak has also accelerated the adoption of new technologies, not limited to health applications. Offline-driven businesses have begun to shift online (think of education), and new business models have been piloted in a number of industries, including manufacturing, consultancy and professional services, entertainment and retail.

Big data have unveiled their potential to improve people wellbeing and support timely public decision-making. Think of the possibility to collect health data and analyze the outbreak development in real time, leveraging Artificial Intelligence to predict the future by combining local infections and population moves, and therefore optimize allocation of public resources. Big data can help to identify high-risk areas in a timely manner, and act accordingly.

Moreover, Smart Cities are ranking higher in the future public agenda. Besides allowing a wiser management of key urban functions, IoT-based networks could systematically enhance public intelligence by integrating supply chains, traffic, emergency warning and disaster relief systems.

As the Chinese word for “crisis” (simplified Chinese: 危机) means “danger at a point of juncture”, the entrepreneurial spirit – in China as well as elsewhere – is called to have the faith and capability to face the emergency, grant business continuity, then seek new opportunities, leveraging key assets as information and smart technologies to promptly recover and move forward.


Picture: REUTERS/Stringer