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Media comment: Can the coronavirus outbreak be the wake-up call we need?

20 March 2020

Dear editor, 

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate across the world, businesses and individuals are feeling the impact and need to find a – albeit temporary – “new normal”. We are experiencing unprecedented times, and the choices we are making now will impact our future. 

New consumer behaviours are pushing businesses to very quickly rethink how they operate. This is particularly true for supermarkets, which have to adapt their offline and online operations to meet unprecedented demand peaks. So what can this moment of crisis teach us? We need to make better use of new and emerging technologies to navigate the unknown and create resilient businesses.

For example, if we look at the information gathered through loyalty cards: what does the data tell us, what insights can we gather? Having better insights on consumer behaviours could help with business planning, process improvement, and productivity to create flexible business models and offer better services and products.

Yet as citizens we resist the intrusion of monitoring, but we know that our data is already consumed by various businesses, wearable tech, and through our every keystroke and mouse click by tech companies. Why do we refuse to share relevant information with organisations that could keep us safe, like health providers or security services? In fact, one of the main challenges the global community is facing to control the coronavirus outbreak is the lack of biometric data that could help us contain the threat and keep us safe.

The current global public health and economic crisis may well be the wake-up call we need to start doing things differently and rethink how we create a greater good.

Peter Spence, FCMA, CGMA
Associate Technical Director – Management Accounting 
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants