Issues that Shaped our Year and our Country’s Future

Throughout the year, we have faced some of the biggest challenges since our nation’s founding. The COVID-19 pandemic and the significance of the disruptions resulting from the pandemic, as well as the rise in political and social tensions, have shaped our year and will continue to impact our country’s future.

As we look ahead to the new year and reflect on the challenges of 2020, I am hopeful for the new opportunities that will unfold in 2021. No doubt, this was a difficult year for everyone. In addition to the spread of the coronavirus and the uncertainty around it, we also saw tensions rise throughout the country due to racial strife, economic uncertainty and a divisive political election season. Issues stemming from racial injustice and police brutality penetrated our social conscious and may have finally created a momentum to achieve real change. 2021 provides a new opportunity to bridge the divide within our country and come together to advance opportunities to help our economy, businesses and workforce recover, and create an even brighter future.

Starting January, the new Administration and Congress will be faced with restarting an American economy that is in shambles. Businesses are still struggling and families are suffering from forced business closures and layoffs. With the potential for new shutdowns in the coming winter months and economic challenges that will continue at least into the summer of 2021, the economy and our workforce will be one of the top challenges demanding attention in the new year. Economic stimulus and pro-business legislative initiatives will be of priority to policymakers in 2021. As such, there will be opportunities to advance new policy initiatives, such as those that support emerging industries that can provide economic growth and create new jobs.

Technology will also continue to be at the forefront. During the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime, American industries were forced to make a digital shift. From the accelerated adoption of digital supply chains, e-commerce and the use of technology in healthcare, to a shift to remote/virtual learning within our education system, all industries have adapted and changed the way they operate. This digital shift has accelerated the adoption of new technologies. For example, the use of automation has increased as businesses deal with social distancing requirements. The New York Times reported that the grocery industry is increasingly relying on automation and robotics to adapt to operating in the pandemic, such as through the use of automated floor cleaners and inventory robots. As we look ahead, the accelerated adoption of technology and innovation will continue to be an opportunity to transform the future of our businesses and organizations and spark further innovations within the technology industry.

From the global pandemic and nationwide shutdowns, to a much-overdue racial justice movement, we are poised to re-shape our nation’s future. In this edition of Inside Story, we will explore some of the biggest issues in 2020 that will continue to impact the future of American businesses, industries, and our lives in the new year and beyond.

Gloria Story Dittus, Chairman, Story Partners