The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 brought about a rapid shift in our lifestyles, and technology proved to be an essential tool in managing the difficult circumstances that unfolded. It provided us with entertainment during our isolation period, and facilitated seamless communication in our new remote working setup.
The global situation has had a notable impact on the technology sector, with its effects differing significantly across various IT domains. For instance, job opportunities for cybersecurity experts and .NET development services have increased, while there has been a drop in demand for visual designers and business intelligence (BI) analysts. These shifts in the job market are directly related to the decisions of many organisations to prioritise investments towards their essential products and systems.
Beyond the surface-level effects of changing job market conditions lies a deeper cause – the acceleration of technological advancements that had been steadily progressing over the past few years, but were rapidly expedited due to the pandemic-induced changes in our daily practices. The amplification of these trends has led to a shift in the recruitment procedures of many organisations. To navigate these changes effectively, it is crucial to carefully consider the following seven adjustments.
The ongoing global health crisis has underscored the necessity for a significant overhaul in the application of medical technology. The outbreak of COVID-19 has expedited the progress of various technologies, including AI-assisted drug research and disease transmission analysis. Nevertheless, the most substantial change has come in the form of telemedicine, which has made a significant impact in raising public awareness.
In order to curb the spread of the virus, healthcare providers have recognised the significance of offering critical medical care to patients through remote means. This has resulted in patients being able to receive an initial diagnosis of their symptoms via a chatbot, or engage in a virtual consultation with a healthcare expert. The widespread availability of mobile applications and platforms has made it possible for an ever-increasing number of individuals to receive medical attention from the comfort of their own homes.
The trend towards telemedicine was already evident prior to the onset of COVID-19, but it has since become more pronounced. With seamless integration with wearable technology, telemedicine has the potential to become a preferred option for primary healthcare.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a substantial boost to the rapidly expanding e-commerce sector. The imposition of stay-at-home protocols has made online shopping increasingly favoured, enabling consumers to buy products from the convenience of their own homes. This has had a significant impact on the industry’s growth, and its popularity is likely to persist even after the pandemic has abated.
The explanation for this trend is simple. On one hand, several businesses shifted their sales operations online as they were unable to provide adequate in-person assistance to their customers. On the other hand, numerous consumers opted to make their initial purchases online, ranging from technological gadgets to food items, due to the absence of other feasible alternatives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant rise in the prevalence of online shopping, leading to growth for established e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. Nevertheless, there remains a considerable opportunity for new players to succeed in the online retail arena, evident from the number of restaurants that started providing home delivery services of their regular menu items and retailers offering customised face masks. Thus, the online retail market has abundant potential for expansion.
3. Remote Work
In response to the spread of COVID-19, numerous organisations have had to adopt the use of remote employees in order to sustain their day-to-day activities. Although this initially posed a challenge for many, people have gradually become more adept at adjusting to this new work arrangement. Furthermore, industry experts have indicated that even after the pandemic subsides, several businesses and their employees may not permanently return to working from a physical workplace.
As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, new technologies have emerged to support this shift. Among these, communication platforms like Zoom have been particularly sought after, with the period of their surge in usage even being coined the ‘Zoom era’. However, it isn’t only these tools that have seen a rise in usage; Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), cloud services, project management software, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have also experienced a surge in popularity.
Given the progressions made in communication and collaboration technology in recent years, which have been further reinforced during the pandemic, remote work is likely to become a permanent fixture. Working from home has its perks, something which we at Works! are well-versed in. These benefits include the ability to take part in more leisure activities and reduced travel time. Moreover, organisations profit from the increased productivity and flexibility that comes with having a distributed team.
4. Remote Education
The lockdowns enforced globally had a negative impact on schools and colleges, necessitating their indefinite closure. This posed a severe threat to educational systems around the world, with the possibility of an entire academic year being lost. Fortunately, these institutions made the wise decision to leverage modern technology and introduce online programmes, allowing them to continue the educational process.
The changes in the educational landscape have led to a remarkable proliferation in the adoption of various educational platforms and communication systems, created to maintain educational continuity. The transition to online learning proved to be challenging for all concerned as teaching and learning typically take place in a face-to-face context. Although online education isn’t a new concept, there have been several technological advancements in this arena over the past few years, such as the incorporation of virtual reality, 3D printing, and even robotic educators in virtual coursework.
Although this new approach has yet to become the norm, the pandemic has certainly aided in its emergence and broadened its appeal to a wider range of individuals who now view it as a viable option. Nevertheless, to achieve greater acceptance of remote learning, it is crucial to tackle the disparities it can create among students, who may not all be adept with technology or have access to top-quality equipment and dependable broadband internet connections.
5. Digital and Cashless Transactions
The rapid expansion of contactless and digital payment systems can be accredited to two major factors. Firstly, the rise of online shopping has led to more individuals adopting digital payment options. Secondly, due to the possible transmission of the virus through physical currency, central banks have been advocating for the use of contactless payments via cards or digital wallets.
The upsurge in the use of contactless and digital payments can be attributed to several people experimenting with these methods for the first time. However, the 1.7 billion unbanked individuals globally pose a significant obstacle to achieving universal acceptance. Limited access to these payment methods is a crucial factor in why their progress is slower than other industry trends.
6. A Smart Supply Chain
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the global supply chain, giving rise to a variety of issues for businesses around the world. As a response, several measures were adopted, with certain organisations opting to close their production facilities, while others invested in the creation of more advanced, albeit smaller-scale, smart supply chains and safety protocols to ensure social distancing and improved worker safety.
To ensure optimal and efficient operation of facilities, modern solutions are being developed, which integrate advanced technologies such as big data, cloud computing, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT). By bringing together these technologies, businesses can manage the entire production process remotely, leading to improved product monitoring, minimizing delays, and the exchange of information between suppliers.
In the wake of the pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that the current supply chain model has several shortcomings, such as a lack of flexibility and dependence on paper records. This has spurred the emergence of Supply Chain 4.0, which is being adopted by an increasing number of businesses. The use of advanced technologies to address these issues should ultimately render them obsolete.
Technology Future-Proofing Post Pandemic
As a large number of businesses scrambled to react to the unparalleled disruption caused by the Coronavirus, the rapid adoption of emerging technologies has taught us a lot about how the market functions. In essence, it has become increasingly apparent that traditional businesses now recognise what the pioneers of these advances have understood for some time; that these solutions are not only more sophisticated and user-friendly but can also offer greater value.
Moreover, in this progressively digital world, these technological innovations are crucial to deal with the constantly shifting landscape and provide solutions to the problems we presently face. As the Coronavirus pandemic begins to decline, we will be presented with various challenges; fortunately, we will have the ability to utilise these tools to tackle these issues.