May 6, 2020  |  Yahoo!Life

Although the shock of the COVID-19 crisis is still raw, many are already playing Monday morning quarterback, endlessly discussing what could or should have been done differently.  Others are seizing on this moment to discuss what the future will look like on the other side.  What buildings and products will become and how new technologies will be integrated to facilitate a post-COVID lifestyle.  Admirable, as we all look to adjust to this new normal.

Yet, we find ourselves drawn to a third category – those who were thinking about and incorporating these innovations prior to the onset of COVID-19.  Those for whom re-defining the basics and pushing their respective industries forward is a way of life.  Those who can’t help but find themselves in the rarified initial 2.5% on an innovation diffusion curve.  The real visionaries.

When we ask people about their thoughts for the future, the most common discussions surround biotech, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI).  We may not understand exactly how, but we all know that these play a key part of life in the decades to come.  Less common are the discussions about the more mundane aspects of our lives – where we live and work, how we pay for things, and what our investment accounts look like.  If you single them out for discussion, nearly everyone would agree that these areas are ripe for innovation, yet there is a sense that the future will somehow still exist within the confines of the past.  Buildings will continue to be static structures (albeit with greater apps and amenities thrown in), bank accounts and credit cards will still exist, and non-crypto fiat will dominate.  Yet, let’s be honest – none of those things are true.

Close to 30 countries have announced preparedness to transition to their own state-backed cryptocurrency.  Implied in these plans are universal digital wallets for all of their citizens.  Suddenly, companies like Coinbase, Gemini, and Xapo look less like alternative investment institutions and more like the financial custodians of our future.

Shopping in the next decade will likely involve your personal AI in your ear telling you exactly what you can afford as you walk into a store or browse online (with the store being provided similar information about your spending ability).  As stepping stones along the way, the masses are adopting virtual credit cards and companies like Venmo and Square’s Cash App are changing the way both the banked and unbanked populations interact with money and establishing themselves as the truly interesting social platforms to keep an eye on.

The Miami Beach-based Lucky Shepherd family of companies has been quietly re-defining the built environment.  Long before the onset of COVID-19, the group’s sustainable hospitality brand, Shepherd Eco, was crafted with intuitive voice and sensor-driven environments that react to and adapt with you throughout the day (no touching required).  Shepherd Eco has been built to provide its guests and residents with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind experiences and the brand has re-thought everything – from sustainable flex construction techniques to bespoke wellness offerings.  Much of this may soon be thought of as the new normal.  Yet, Shepherd designed it all long before and enters this new era with considerable strengths that position it to lead.

A universal truth – building is easier than renovating – is about to play out across all industries.  Young, nimble companies who create the innovations are far better positioned to capitalize on them than the industry giants, for whom re-positioning simply can’t come quickly.

Each of the aforementioned companies is set for an exciting decade.  If you haven’t already, it’s time to look into them.