The outbreak of COVID-19 took the world completely off guard, including businesses. Without a proper contingency plan, supply chains were cut off, day-to-day operations got suspended, and companies were shut down.
It took a while for businesses to realise and embrace digital technologies for survival. Both product and service-based industries began shifting to the digital platform, making customers aware of their online services.
A recent survey by McKinsey & Company revealed that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by three to four years, and some of these changes will be long-term.
Although the pandemic threatened nearly all the sectors, the timely shift to digital technologies and advanced integrations helped businesses grow and innovate using remote IT.
Digital technologies have also been useful for enabling support and communication between employees spread across the world.
Global connectivity via digital technology has simplified collaboration. Even businesses which are late adopters of these technologies have found the new digital reality surprisingly simple.
The far-reaching impact of the pandemic has affected technology in the following ways:
Compared to most industries, the IT industry is likely to witness a massive market growth to $295 billion by 2025.
The pandemic has opened up many opportunities for the IT industry, like accelerating the implementation of the 5th generation (5G) technology.
Adoption of Digital Technology by Businesses (Source: McKinsey & Co.)
The adoption of digital technologies and increased connectivity has enabled better remote interactions. It was the top priority for many enterprises during and after the pandemic. For example, telehealth has been one of the areas that have grown fast and facilitated interactions with patients during the crisis.
During the lockdown, telehealth proved to be useful for the patients’ diagnosis, treatment, and operation in the presence of a physician.
Besides, various apps were developed in the past couple of years to help achieve this. Many patients were in self-quarantine and needed medical assistance every day, and these apps could help them fulfil their requirements.
Another facet of accelerated adoption of digital technologies has been solutions like video communications and productivity tools which have enabled remote work. Solutions such as Zoom or Slack have been particularly at the centre of this revolution.
Besides, other aspects of information technology have done well and will grow steadily to meet the core business demands, such as IT support, cybersecurity, and the applications to communicate with customers.
Confined to their homes, customers of most industries turned to online communications, which made a strong customer relationship through digital channels even more important.
Many technology-based organizations have made great progress by keeping up with rapid digital adoption by helping employees and customers adjust to the evolved need for solutions through seamless collaboration.
The crucial role the online and remote experience play is likely to stay for a long time. Even in the current scenario, when most physical offices, stores, and outlets have re-opened, businesses are treading cautiously and keeping their focus on digital operations.
There is a possibility that a certain percentage of people, especially senior citizens are not that confident to operate digitally in the areas such as health, financial transactions, or shopping. This is why it makes sense for businesses that used to provide in-person services earlier to implement a two-tier approach for such customers.
In the future, combined social change due to growing choices of digital or physical channels and a mixed experience of both will create more opportunities for fast-moving and dynamic marketing and make brands to stand out in the coming years.
During and in the aftermath of the pandemic, organisations leaned on creating technology-driven or digital strategies to overcome the crisis and streamline their operations.
This way, their corporate strategies and digital strategies were one and the same. The crisis made this approach more urgent than ever.
Although aligning the business strategy and strong leadership have been the signs of progressive organisations during contingencies or disruptions, the far-reaching impact of technology in this crisis is undeniable.
The enterprises which experimented with new digital technologies to find innovative ways to overcome the crisis are also the ones with sizeable investments in this area than others.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, both consumers and organisations realised how important it was to meet the fundamental human needs for survival.
This realisation has led to a drastic shift in consumers’ priorities. It has also resulted in a major shift in the organisations’ roadmap to the future. Now, the focus is on creating more reliable and scalable technologies to facilitate communication and collaboration with consumers in a similar situation.
The biggest question is where the technology will go from here? Will it become more compatible to help meet societal needs? Perhaps organisations can provide better support to workers or take a close look at the impact of technology on consumers’ quality of life through productivity and innovation. The answer lies in the easy integration of technology, increasing efficiency, and flexibility, leading to a better-equipped future.