Few would argue that COVID-19 will disappear without leaving an indelible mark on society. In Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, illustrates ways in which the pandemic has accelerated broader trends that are shaping the future of business.
Drawing on his experience as a serial entrepreneur and the founder of companies including Red Envelope, Prophet, and L2, Galloway frames his analysis with two main theses: (1) The most enduring impact of the pandemic will be its role as an accelerant of trends; and (2) Disruption breeds opportunity—and the greater the disruption, the greater the opportunity.
The marketplace effectively skipped a decade, and consumers are now living in the year 2030.
The Digital Divide
Published early in the pandemic, Post Corona says COVID-19 may have accelerated negative trends more quickly and with disproportionate impact. This further tilted the scales of economic inequality in favor of the “haves” for individuals and businesses alike.
The marketplace effectively skipped a decade, Galloway says, and consumers are now living in the year 2030. In March 2020, e-commerce represented just 16% of all U.S. retail sales and was growing at a rate of about 1% annually. Fast-forward eight weeks, and e-commerce had grown to 27% of retail. The acceleration of the trend toward digital commerce will have lasting significance in the business environment. If there was any doubt that an organization marketing a product or service without a digital presence would be left behind, the pandemic erased it.
Galloway’s “strong get stronger” proposition includes examples of how cash-rich companies with high stock valuations are positioned to consolidate the market. Companies attempting triage in the aftermath should overcorrect and act fast, he says; perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management.
Lessons that can translate to association management include acting quickly and without fear of making mistakes; doing whatever it takes to save members time, including making websites as efficient as possible; and expanding convenience in products and services. Marketing sound-bites won’t resonate if there’s no “there” there, the book notes.
While many weaker companies failed in the early months of the pandemic, nine tech companies increased in value by $1.9 trillion. Of those, Galloway names Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google as “The Big Four” that are now too big to fail, arguing that as tech companies scale up, their integration into our lives becomes a threat.
There is still opportunity in upheaval, though. When there is rapid increase in price without an increase in value or innovation, Galloway says, industries are ripe for disruption. He warns against venture capital-funded “Fake it ’til you make it” business models and pseudo innovations that offer added features without adding real value.
Higher education has a huge disruptability index, Galloway says. While offering little change in their value proposition, colleges and universities have instituted tuition increases of 1,400% over the last 40 years. And those price increases have come without fully addressing inequities in access to education—similar to real estate’s recent reckoning with its role in creating unequal access to housing.
Galloway concludes that a renewed sense of community and collaboration is needed to address societal inequities. True capitalism, he says, turns selfishness into wealth and stakeholder value, setting the stage for altruistic behavior that helps lift all boats.
Post Corona is widely available from online bookstores.