While smartphones were considered crucial to the worldwide economy before the COVID-19 virus emerged, it is not an exaggeration to say that without these phones and the apps that fuel communication and commerce, the worldwide economy may have suffered even greater shocks.
However, every crisis is also a chance to help those involved, and the mobile application industry has risen to that challenge. This is also an opportunity, as these companies may be experiencing an increase in demand for remote tools and services in various economic sectors.
Four mobile app areas, in particular, are poised to be investment opportunities during and after this crisis:
- Healthcare, biopharmaceuticals, and clinical trials
- Telecommunications and video conferencing
- Remote educational services
Health information exchange
It is not a surprise that many organizations and companies have launched apps that are focused on providing clinical information during this crisis period. Healthcare practitioners, industry leaders, patients, and the general public want to know the latest news, while pharma and drug development companies need to speed up the development of new treatments.
Technology can open new avenues for the exchange of transactions and secure communication in healthcare and a number of the other areas, including sectors seemingly as ancillary as education. Here’s an example: An elementary-age student transferred to a new school from a distant location, but leadership at the new school had several concerns about the student’s health, which led to questions for the student’s physician.
It wasn’t feasible nor secure to share the student’s medical records through traditional paper-based records, so the district developed a secure solution for the transference and exchange of the student’s medical information using a solution known as “hyperledger fabric” to create channels where the school could access the information only after the parents granted permission.
Hyperledger fabric, in this case, helps create private, secure channels in circumstances where confidential obligations are managed without sending everything through a central authority. This information is then accessed through (secure) app technology or another portal. [SR1] [SR2]
Tele and video communications
Remote communication has likely never been more critical in keeping the world economy functioning. Businesses and organizations all seek to keep staff in contact with their peers and to facilitate team productivity. Apps, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Duo, are among the most popular used today.
For instance, allowing remote employees to communicate within Salesforce would be a boost to productivity, as employees wouldn’t have to toggle between screens and could better utilize Salesforce’s features. Salesforce needed an app that could accomplish this and more. One, called upMessage, was created that pairs with Salesforce, offering inbound and outbound SMS messages that users can employ to help connect with clients and internal contacts.
Remote educational services
Every school district has had to immediately confront the issue of how to continue educating students, albeit remotely, despite teachers having little time to prepare and district technical infrastructure being stretched.
As the New York Times pointed out, at one point in April, the Los Angeles School District said about a third of its seniors were not logging in for class, delivered through sites and apps. This problem is exacerbated in areas without well-established or no internet access.
Thus, providing remote schooling and teaching technology means apps, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Classroom, Slack, and others, can continue taking a prominent role in educating students as schools search for ways to educate as many students, as efficiently, as possible.
Delivery of service and goods
Peapod, InstaCart, Whole Foods, and others are among the retailers offering consumers and businesses in-home delivery of groceries and other essential items. As people sheltered-in-place and stores were open at limited times (if at all), delivery and ordering technology became increasingly essential lifelines for many people.
In Europe, one of the largest online food ordering and delivery services worked to improve its third-party integration, to ensure its system could handle increased traffic from people who sought services from the confines of their own home. It created a web service allowing food to be ordered from a favorite restaurant and delivered, much like we might experience with GrubHub or DoorDash.
Apps in common
What each of these sectors have in common is that they presented opportunities to both contribute to helping people get through one of the modern world’s most significantly challenging times, while allowing organizations to reap short- and long-term gains.
While each of these sectors are diverse, the underlying similarities highlight the opportunity for organizations with expertise in developing mobile apps to provide near-instant value and profoundly impact the lives of millions.
Ultimately, those looking at areas in which to invest may wish to pay close attention to the sectors developing the apps and technologies serving individuals in these sectors.