THE post-COVID-19 era will have an economy shaped by new habits and regulations based on reduced close-contact interaction and tighter travel and hygiene restrictions.

Malaysia, as a tourism and trade based economy, will not be spared and must adapt accordingly.

Until there is a vaccine or herd immunity, the future scenario is an unprecedented rate of change in how we work and live in the coming year, resulting in new habits long after.

Gradual shifts that were happening over time will now accelerate to become more immediate.

The top ten trends highlighted in a report by the Board of Innovation, a global strategy firm, are as follows:

1. Even more anxiousness, loneliness and depression
2. Diminished trust in hygiene of people and products
3. Extended travel restrictions, even within country
4. Optimized work from home setups, beyond typical office jobs
5. Rising tensions and conflicts in international trade
6. Unprecedented levels of global unemployment
7. Take out / home delivery for everything
8. Increasingly limited contact with older generations
9. Expansion of one’s identity beyond just one’s job
10. Unique value for consumer groups who have certified immunity

The fact is the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) was poised to bring in quantum changes in commerce and society anyway; these technologies will now become indispensable in adapting to the new Low Touch economy.

Those who were playing defense in the face of these changes will have to switch to offense in order to survive. Begging ignorance is no longer a valid excuse, and those who act fast and decisively will seize an advantage.

This is equally true for individuals, companies, societies and countries. In many ways those with the least legacy leadership positions to protect are best adapted to embrace innovation and change.

The Low Touch Economy can offer countries like Malaysia the chance to embrace the elusive high-value innovation economy that we have long aspired to.

For the naysayers who decried that we could never change our mindset, the day has come when the change is forced upon us: whether we like it or not, the Low Touch Economy is here to stay.

* Dr Rais Hussin is the president/CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.