In the midst of the pandemic and work-from-home orders, companies are flocking to technology to try to survive while helping those around them. The global healthcare crisis has radically altered the role of technology in our society both in terms of how individuals interact with their devices and how companies interact with their customers and employees. Some of the behavioral shifts that we’ve seen over the past few months are likely here to stay, which may alter the post-pandemic technological landscape in the following ways.
Shift to Remote Work
The need to suddenly shift to a fully remote work environment has served as a long overdue natural experiment and data collection period for many companies. Given the surprising effectiveness of a work-from-home culture, it seems that remote work post-pandemic may be here to stay. A shift to a permanently remote work environment will give hiring managers access to more geographically diverse talent, enhance work-life balance for employees, increase the number of potential opportunities for job-seekers, force firms to find creative ways to distinguish their company culture in an online environment, encourage the standardization of digital onboarding processes, and decrease the propensity for managers to micromanage their employees.
When a change as drastic as COVID strikes, it forces companies to revisit and re-evaluate their internal processes. In order to improve the efficiency of outdated processes, companies are increasingly looking to automation. Given that many companies are adjusting their internal human capital compositions at this point anyway, it is a natural opportunity for companies to consider whether it is more economically efficient to shift some of these role responsibilities to robots. In the end, crises make it crystal clear to leadership that AI doesn’t require as much maintenance or guidance as humans do, it doesn’t get sick, and it is more resilient overall. Companies may look to AI in the coming months to automate basic processes, clean surfaces, and deliver packages using drones.
Companies often don’t test their technological infrastructure as frequently as they should. Given the extent to which all technological systems and internal processes have been put to the test during COVID, companies are likely to implement rigid and frequent stress testing to make sure things don’t break and can withstand future crises.
The resource constraints spurred by COVID have forced companies to really focus on the lowest hanging fruit. This has required leaders to assess and re-evaluate their core priorities in an attempt to distinguish key revenue generating channels from channels that should be extinguished. The evaluation and revision of business priorities is likely to involve an assessment of the key milestones necessary to drive significant technological progress.
Transition to the Cloud
Employees can no longer walk into the IT office and seek instant help. Given the need for employees to maintain constant uninterrupted access from the convenience of their own homes, we are likely to see companies increasingly shifting their workloads to the cloud to increase both reliability and flexibility. Technical leadership needs to ensure that all internal systems can support communication with customers and that there are no interruptions in the middle of important conversations.
Mobile Ordering & Contactless Purchasing
The virus has radically shifted the new normal in terms of how people shop and dine. Mobile ordering and contactless purchasing technology is the next big thing. The demand for innovation in this space is incredibly high, as businesses are eager to figure out ways to improve process efficiencies.
Advanced Technological Investment
A major lesson that leaders seemed to have learned during this pandemic is that you need to invest in technological advancements before you really need them. This is the only way for companies to prepare themselves to withstand unexpected shocks such as COVID. If you wait until the crisis strikes, it is often too late to start building out new technology and digitizing outdated business models, leaving you fighting to survive rather than thriving in the competitive environment. By adopting new technology once it becomes available and before it is ultimately necessary, it will give your company time to adapt to new processes before a crisis hits to make the company more resilient in uncertain situations.
Adoption of E-commerce
During the pandemic, people have experimented with purchasing things online that they used to be willing to buy when going to the mall or the local market. Now that the experimental barrier is broken, people have adjusted to online shopping and may not be eager to revert back to the in-store shopping experience if they can just as easily find what they’d like to buy online. The rise in online shopping is likely here to stay, so investing in the development of a reliant and captivating online shopping experience may be a strong use of resources.
Education Technology Tools
The recent shift to online learning may alter the way that school systems integrate technology into their curriculums post-pandemic. Now that students are used to leveraging their personal technological devices for learning purposes and teachers have been more extensively trained to teach online, schools may continue to leverage the benefits of edtech tools. Schools may continue to use technology for the implementation of take home tests and to host assignments. This increased demand for online learning tools makes this a ripe opportunity for innovation.
This crisis has demonstrated the importance of innovation in helping companies to manage risk. This may encourage companies to start investing more in technological innovation than they typically do and may prompt a shift to the development of lean organizational structures that can move quickly. This may drive companies to increasingly experiment and push out technological updates more rapidly.
Unconventional Business Partnerships
We have seen many frenemies like Apple and Google come together during the pandemic to solve radical challenges for the greater good. Being forced to come together in times of crisis may encourage companies to continue partnering to tackle challenging global issues and spur radical innovation.
There is a significant demand for educational coding resources, which is likely to continue post-COVID. Due to job losses, furloughs, and fewer social activities, individuals have more time to teach themselves to code. Beyond the lower opportunity cost of their time, the rising demand for technical skill sets in the current labor market and the abundance of free online coding courses is making people increasingly eager to learn to code.
Big Data Opportunities
With the abundance of new technology apps popping up in the healthcare space to monitor the spread of COVID, there is an extensive amount of available data that can be leveraged to shape future technological innovation.
Digital Business Models
Many companies have been forced to innovate to survive. This has prompted a shift towards digitally oriented business models when seeking out new revenue channels as opposed to allowing business sustainability to be contingent on the success of manual operations.
Outsourcing Technological Development
Many companies are finding themselves stuck in the middle of a severe human capital transition while orienting business strategy towards drastic technological improvements. This combination has prompted leaders to consider outsourcing technological development, as they need to build quickly and may not have the time or resources to onboard a full development team. Additionally, companies may be making one time advancements, in which case it may be less costly to outsource than to hire someone to build the new platform in house.
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