2020 was a hard year. And according to the experts, the worst of the virus is still to come. Just as effective vaccines are going into arms, two new strains of COVID are emerging and proving to be even more contagious. Those variants are already confirmed in a number of countries.
There is also a beleaguered jobs market. Shopping malls have become ghost towns. The ones that are open offer few options in the food court. Many shopping centers have removed chairs and benches so that weary shoppers have no place to rest, even for a moment. That makes it very difficult for older shoppers to get out and purchase essential or home goods.
Tourist towns are also feeling the pinch. Midtown Manhattan is quiet and empty compared to its former self. It is almost impossible to find a place to eat indoors. This is the story of major cities all over the U.S. The food service industry is a major driver of the economy. It is not just the direct tickets for meals, but all that dining options enable.
With so many challenges ahead, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there is reason to believe that things are getting better. In fact, here are five:
Business tools like master data management are getting better. The pandemic has forced the enterprise sector to innovate. And that is exactly what is happening. The benefits of big data are being realized by more companies and in more ways.
2020 was the year that BI, AI, and ML became more than just two-letter acronyms. 2021 will be the year that those tools become the norm in business operations. For decades, we have imagined the potential of enterprise computing. We are seeing that potential become reality.
Against all expectations, the Dow and S&P 500 end 2020 at record highs. To be clear, enthusiastic markets don’t mean things are better right now. It just means that the markets are predicting that things will get better in the near future. Some of the wealthiest people in the world have evaluated all the signs and have decided to bet their fortunes on progress. If the people out in front of the economy are seeing blue skies, that gives the rest of us reason to be optimistic.
As the old saying goes, it is better to have and not need than to need and not have. We don’t have more doses than we need. But we definitely have more doses than we are using. In some states, more than half the doses are going unused. The problem is mostly administrative. These problems can be fixed. While the rate of vaccination is well behind what was promised, we have the potential to catch up rapidly.
Some of the biggest corporations are now some of the biggest cheerleaders for employees working from home. A year ago, they were among the biggest obstructionists. 2020 was a dry run. Companies learned by necessity. 2021 will be the year that companies do work from home on purpose. Right now, it is still an emergency measure. But soon, it will become a regular option for more people in more places.
The presidential election of 2020 was one of the most contentious races in American history. As a society, the U.S. is more polarized than ever. However, the silver lining is that more people participated in this election than ever before. The loser gained the second most votes in any presidential race, second only to the winner of this election. Usually, half the population sit on the sidelines and wallow in apathy. This year, everyone is in the game. We can make more progress when more people are involved. This is a positive sign for the future.
Things are definitely looking up. And that optimism is coming from all major sectors. It is coming from Business tech, the financial markets, science, jobs, and politics. All signs point to us being better prepared for whatever 2021 has on offer.