In March 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic abruptly emerged, technology quickly became a fundamental component of our lives, aiding us to cope with the challenges it brought. It kept us entertained during our period of self-isolation and enabled us to communicate effectively within our newly-adopted remote working environment.
Overall, this situation has had a significant effect on the technology industry, with its repercussions varying greatly across the different areas of IT. For example, there has been an increase in job postings for cyber security specialists and .NET programming services, yet there has been a decrease in postings for visual designers and business intelligence (BI) analysts. These changes in labour demand are directly linked to the decision that many businesses have made to invest in their core products and systems.
Without doubt, beneath the outward appearances of fluctuating labour market conditions, there is something else at play. Technology trends that had been gradually advancing over the past few years have experienced a considerable increase as a result of the pandemic, which has necessitated us to modify a great number of our practices. The intensification of these trends has consequently caused organisations to adjust their hiring procedures. It is therefore advised that you pay careful attention to the following seven alterations.
The current health crisis has highlighted the need for a major shift in the use of medical technology. The emergence of the Coronavirus has accelerated the development of a number of technologies, such as artificial intelligence-assisted drug research and disease spread analysis. However, the most significant transformation has been the introduction of telemedicine, which has had a profound impact on raising public awareness.
Medical facilities have come to recognise the importance of providing essential care to their patients remotely in order to contain the outbreak. As a result, those in need of medical attention can now access a preliminary diagnosis of their symptoms by consulting with a chatbot, or engage in a video call with a healthcare professional. The proliferation of mobile apps and platforms has enabled a growing number of people to receive a diagnosis and treatment without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes.
It was evident that there was an inclination towards telemedicine before the Coronavirus pandemic, however this propensity augmented significantly during the pandemic. If integrated more smoothly with wearable technology, telemedicine has an excellent opportunity to become a popular choice for primary healthcare.
2. Online Shopping
The outbreak of the Coronavirus has provided a significant boost to the already burgeoning e-commerce industry. The implementation of stay-at-home measures have enabled online purchasing to become increasingly popular, allowing customers to purchase items from the comfort of their own home. This has had an immense impact on the growth of the e-commerce sector, and its popularity is likely to remain high even after the pandemic has subsided.
It is straightforward to elucidate the phenomenon. On the one hand, various companies shifted to online sales as they were unable to support their customers effectively in their physical stores. Conversely, numerous customers chose to make their initial purchases, ranging from technology to food, online due to the lack of alternative options.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in internet shopping, resulting in the expansion of well-established companies such as Amazon, Walmart and eBay. However, there is ample scope for new entrants to be successful in the online retail industry, evidenced by the number of restaurants that started to offer home delivery services of their usual fare and retailers offering customised face masks. Therefore, there is plenty of potential for expansion in this market.
3. Working from Home
As the Coronavirus pandemic has progressed, many businesses have had to embrace the use of remote employees in order to keep their operations running. Initially, this presented a challenge to many, but with more time having passed, it appears that people are now managing to adapt. Furthermore, analysts have suggested that even when the pandemic is over, many businesses and their workers may not return to the workplace permanently.
As the paradigm of remote working has become increasingly commonplace, numerous new technologies have come to the forefront. Of these, communication platforms such as Zoom have been particularly in demand, with the period of time during which they experienced a surge in usage even being referred to as the ‘era of Zoom’. Nevertheless, it is not just these technologies that have seen an increase in usage; Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), cloud services, project management software and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have also seen a rise in popularity.
Due to the advancements in communication and collaboration technology in recent years, which have been further reinforced during the pandemic, it is likely that remote working will be here to stay. Working from home has its advantages, something that we at Works! are familiar with. These include having more time for leisure activities and reducing travel time. Additionally, organisations benefit from the increased productivity and flexibility that comes with having a distributed team.
4. Distance Education
Schools and colleges around the world were adversely affected by the lockdowns, resulting in indefinite closures. This posed a significant threat to educational systems from nations across the globe, with the potential of an entire school year being lost. Fortunately, these institutions took the prudent decision to use modern technology and implement online programmes, enabling them to continue the educational process.
Due to the changes in the educational landscape, there has been an impressive surge in the uptake of various educational platforms and communication systems, designed to maintain a level of educational continuity. The transition to online learning presented a challenge for all involved, as teaching and learning are usually conducted in a face to face setting. Online education is not a new concept, however the last few years have seen a range of technological developments in this area, such as the introduction of virtual reality, 3D printing, and even robot instructors into virtual courses.
Despite the fact that this new approach may not yet have become the standard, the pandemic has certainly helped to boost its presence and increase its reach to a wider range of individuals who now recognise it as a viable alternative. However, for remote learning to become more widely accepted, it is essential to address the disparities that it can cause between students, who may not all be familiar with technology, or have the same access to high-quality equipment and reliable broadband internet.
5. Cashless and Digital Transactions
The swift growth of digital and contactless payment systems can be attributed to two key components. Firstly, the increasing prevalence of online shopping has led to more people turning to digital payment methods. Secondly, due to the potential risk of transmitting the virus via physical currency, central banks have been encouraging the use of contactless payments through cards or digital wallets.
The surge in popularity of digital and contactless payments can be attributed to many individuals trying out these approaches for the first time. Unfortunately, the 1.7 billion unbanked individuals around the world represent a huge barrier to achieving widespread adoption. Limited access to these payment methods is a key factor in why their progress is slower than other trends in the industry.
6. An Intelligent Supply Chain
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the worldwide supply chain, causing a range of problems for businesses worldwide. In response, a variety of measures were taken, with some organisations choosing to shut down production sites, while others invested in the development of more advanced, albeit smaller-scale, intelligent supply chains and safety protocols to ensure social distancing and improved safety for their employees.
In order to ensure that facilities are operating effectively and efficiently, contemporary solutions are being developed which incorporate the use of advanced technologies such as big data, cloud computing, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Combining these technologies will enable businesses to manage the complete production process remotely, allowing for improved product monitoring, the prevention of delays, and the sharing of information between suppliers.
In light of the pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that the current supply chain model has several drawbacks, such as lack of flexibility and reliance on paper records. This has provided the impetus for the emergence of Supply Chain 4.0, which is being adopted by an increasing number of businesses. The use of cutting-edge technologies to resolve these issues should eventually lead to their obsolescence.
Future-Proofing Technology After a Pandemic
As the majority of businesses scrambled to respond to the unprecedented disruption caused by the Coronavirus, the accelerated uptake of emerging technologies has shown us a great deal about how the market operates. Primarily, it has become increasingly evident that traditional businesses are now gaining an understanding of what the pioneers of these advancements have known for some time; that these solutions are not only more advanced and user-friendly, but they can also provide greater value.
Furthermore, in this increasingly digitised world, these technological advancements are vital in order to cope with the ever-changing environment and to provide solutions to the issues we are currently facing. As the Coronavirus pandemic begins to recede, we will be confronted with a variety of difficulties; thankfully, we will be able to use these tools to address these problems.