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Three Pandemic-Led Disruptions That Are Here to Stay

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After a highly unpredictable year, it’s understandable that many may want to take a moment to rest and reflect in 2021. But with the unprecedented innovation brought about by the lockdown, many industries have been disrupted for good. As stay-at-home orders lift and businesses reopen, it’s going to be a busy year.

Leaders with an eye on the future must be ready to adjust to new consumer expectations and respond to emerging threats. Here are three pandemic-led disruptions that are here to stay:

  • Businesses Will Face New Versions of Fraud

Any time businesses experience a disruption to their operations or there is a major shift in consumer psychology, these changes create the perfect environment for fraud. It can be as simple as small businesses shifting to digital to meet rising consumer demand and not having the resources to defend against cyberattacks. Many industries are experiencing an uptick in fraud activity, with companies battling things like Frankenstein IDs and automated attacks.

Fortunately, companies such as Experian are working to stop fraudsters in their tracks. Last year, Experian’s fraud prevention solutions helped clients save $10 billion in fraud losses. The company just released its 2021 Future of Fraud Forecast, detailing five emerging threats targeting businesses. 

Synthetic identity fraud, which uses a mixture of true and false information to generate a new persona or identity, is one of the fastest-growing forms of identity theft. Several factors play into the increase in synthetic identity fraud, including data breaches and unlimited access to consumer data on the dark web. 

As fraud detection methods become better, Experian predicts that fraudsters will begin to rely on fake faces created by AI for biometric verification. These “Frankenstein faces” will combine facial features of different individuals to form entirely new identities. For businesses that rely on facial recognition technology as part of their strategy to prevent fraud, this will be an unprecedented challenge.

These kinds of elaborate attacks will require businesses to have a strong and detailed plan to combat fraud in an ever-changing technological landscape. It will also shine a spotlight on companies that are proactively creating solutions to protect their customers.

“Fraud is complex, and our predictions show that businesses and consumers need to be vigilant in 2021 as fraudsters become more sophisticated,” says Kathleen Peters, Chief Innovation Officer at Experian Decision Analytics. “As a trusted industry leader in identity verification and fraud prevention, Experian is committed to helping businesses anticipate future fraud risks, protect consumers, and adapt on the road to recovery ahead.”

  • Students Will Look to Stay Flexible

Just as new digital threats are here to stay, college students and parents with older kids should expect digital education to stick around. Learning management system Canvas by Instructure, which had more than 30 million users before the pandemic, has only continued to grow. 

At the end of 2020, Instructure released a new study — The State of Student Success and Trends in Higher Education. According to the report, more than 50 percent of college students said they now prefer online education because of its flexibility. That flexibility allows them to work more, start a side hustle, or simply attend class on their schedule. 

With the stigma against online education disappearing, expect new opportunities to open up for higher education. The move to online learning will allow universities to expand which students they can attract to their schools. This will make college recruitment even more competitive. 

Most elementary-school children will return to the classroom post-pandemic, but their experiences with online learning will likely have long-lasting effects. Students who grow up with more flexible educational options, digital work, and video-led instruction will expect their careers to be more flexible as well. 

Carrus is one of a growing number of career-training platforms that offer 30-day certifications to help people reenter the workforce. This was incredibly handy for people looking to switch careers during the pandemic to more in-demand fields. As companies look to provide ongoing training and reskilling for a changing workforce, more online training options will emerge.

  • Home-Goods Retailers Will Cater to Gen Z

While Generation Z will likely remember their college years differently from generations that attended school pre-pandemic, Gen Z is also the first to form completely different buying behaviors. 

As COVID-19 restrictions lift, don’t expect Gen Z to rush back to malls or home-goods stores. Gen Zers were already doing more online shopping than any other generation. They see no issue with buying furniture, plants, or other home decor online. While Millennials still enjoy a stroll through Target or HomeGoods, Gen Z looks for contactless efficiency and, more importantly, something unique that no one else has. 

BIG Wall Décor has proven popular with this up-and-coming generation. The company sells wall art that ships in sizes up to eight feet long, so customers can make a big statement for under $200. The art is printed on fabric and locked into metal frames so it can ship quickly in a small tube. This flexible design also allows customers to switch out their art as their tastes change. What was once bulky and expensive enough to force a commitment is now affordable and easy to change.

Another reason BIG Wall Décor is a big hit? The company showcases real artists looking to raise their visibility. This strikes a chord with Gen Z, who love a product with a story or a cause. Each print sold is signed by the artist, and there is always something new on the site. The company will soon be adding influencer-curated pages so fans can find things specific to their favorite Instagrammers’ tastes.

We’ve already seen a bevy of direct-to-consumer mattress and furniture companies spring up to disrupt outdated purchasing processes. As more entrepreneurs look to serve the needs of younger generations, we’ll see more new entrants in the home-goods online retail space.

Last year brought rapid changes to every industry that no one could have predicted. Stay-at-home orders forced businesses to roll out new digital and contactless options, which quickly caught on with consumers. In 2021, expect those trends to continue with more digital offerings and greater convenience, as well as new emerging threats.


(Syndicated press content is neither written, edited or endorsed by ED Times)

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