The best commentator on what the post-Corona business world will look like is arguably NYU Stern Business School Professor Scott Galloway, an entrepreneur turned professor and YouTuber who GQ has labelled “Gordon Gecko with a social conscience”. I’ve recently read his brilliant new book Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, which is available at Dymocks on Queen St Mall. Galloway’s thesis, as summarised in the back-cover blurb, is that:
…the pandemic has generally not been a change agent so much as an accelerant of trends that were already well underway.
For instance, higher education has been ripe for disruption for a couple of decades now. With the pandemic, we are seeing traditional universities across the world struggling, and some below the top tier may fail. Galloway sees potential collaborations between the top universities worldwide and Big Tech, collaborations which certainly could threaten Australian universities. This is an interesting idea Galloway advances on p. 147:
MIT and Google could jointly craft two-year degrees in STEM. The myth/magic of campuses and geography is no longer a constraining factor—most programs will be hybrid soon, dramatically increasing enrollments among the best brands.
Australian universities have already had to make big cuts to deal with a loss of international students and their fees during COVID (check out the Guardian Australia report Almost 10% of Australian university jobs slashed during Covid, with casuals hit hardest), and I know it’s been tough on many academics, some of whom have taken Voluntary Early Retirements. But universities may face further pain as students worldwide come to expect online learning and as agile new providers stand up to challenge universities. One idea I heard on a podcast the other day was that a major consulting firm, say a McKinsey, could offer its own MBA program and attract students and revenues away from business schools. Traditional university programs will also be threatened by providers who have fully adapted to the potential of online learning. Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshops which encourage activity-based learning and regular peer feedback are good examples of what is possible. So, I think Scott Galloway is on the right track with his observations regarding higher education.
In Post Corona, Galloway reiterates his critique of the big four tech companies (Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon), noting big tech has profited from COVID as lockdowns have prompted people to spend more time online: using social media, streaming, and shopping. Galloway has been calling for antitrust action against Big Tech for several years, and, as I discussed on my podcast a couple of weeks ago (check out Regulating Big Tech), such action does appear to be forthcoming, which is good news.
Galloway ends his book with a call for measures for greater redistribution to deal with growing inequality in the US. He makes a good point about how COVID relief in the US has tended to favour corporations and their shareholders rather than the bulk of the population. Assistance in Australia has been much better targeted, although arguably it has been overly generous, as I discussed in my post Aussies over-confident after being over-compensated by Gov’t for COVID-recession.
I can highly recommend Post Corona by Scott Galloway, and I’d also recommend his very insightful video 2021 Predictions (Companies & Trends to Watch).
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