The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic all across the world is unprecedented. While the governments of many countries were forced to impose nationwide lockdowns to fence the spread of the deadly virus months ago, they have been impelled to reimpose the lockdown owing to a second wave of the pandemic. Businesses had hurriedly shifted to “work from home” scenario eight months ago, which has unfortunately become the new reality now.
The struggle to ensure business continuity in these times of uncertainty is real. Schools, colleges and universities have no option other than conducting online classes for the completion of syllabus. With social distancing becoming a way of life, various technologies have emerged that will shape the future in a post Covid world. In many ways, the pandemic has fuelled innovation where digital-age technologies are helping businesses outmanoeuvre today’s uncertainty.
COVID-19 – a catalyst for digital transformation
Several technology trends that were underway before the pandemic have now been accelerated due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Although business operations are highly affected due to the pandemic, it has indeed acted as a catalyst for digital transformation and accelerated the development of various emerging technologies; especially the ones which are enabling social distancing, reducing human-to-human interaction, automating processes and increasing productivity.
While we adjust and accept the “new normal”, the technology surrounding us is going to transform to a great extent. The pandemic has forced us to rethink how we conduct business, how we work, how we learn, how we seek medical help/services, how we indulge in entertainment; and fortunately, technology will have an answer for all these questions.
Top emerging technologies in a post Covid world
The post Covid world will be about digital enablement where companies will channelize their tech spends towards workplace collaboration tools and cloud infrastructure. The focus will be on the rapid adoption of emerging technologies. Here are some new-age technologies that will take precedence in a post Covid world:
1. Collaboration platform technology
The smooth shift towards working from home wouldn’t have been possible without virtual collaboration tools. With lockdowns and travel restrictions still in effect, there will be continuous growth in the number of ‘virtual’ meetings – the redefined face-to-face meetings. Recently, Microsoft Teams announced to have reached a new record of 115 million daily active users which is 53% more than where it was in April 2020. Similarly, Zoom also reached a milestone of 300 million daily meeting participants as compared to 10 million in December 2019.
These days, huge conferences and international seminars are also being conducted online via virtual collaboration platforms, attended by thousands of participants from the comfort of their homes. This technology trend is likely to hold its ground in a post Covid world as well as people would continue to maintain the social distancing protocols.
2. Smart devices
Although technology can’t predict the next pandemic but it can surely help in curbing the spread, educating and empowering individuals to mitigate the impact. Smart wearable technology – consisting of mobiles, smart watches and fitness trackers, have become an integral part of people’s life. ‘SMART’ – means ‘self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology’. This technology uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics to provide valuable insights. The devices are either controlled via remote or they are connected to the internet via Bluetooth. Nowadays, a wide range of smart devices are available in the market – smart TVs, smartphones, smart eyewear, smart fridges, smart watches, smart earbuds etc.
Smart watches are one the most popular smart devices in the world currently. According to senior director of market research at Global Data, Urte Jakimaviciute, the ability of fitness trackers to monitor sleep patterns, heart rates and activities can prove to be a ‘game changer’ in detecting the Covid-19 symptoms. Early detection of the virus can help minimize the spread. However, it is impossible to determine whether a person is suffering from a particular disease just by analysing the data from the devices. It can certainly help them notice sudden changes in their bodies and drive them to isolation or get tested.
With social distancing becoming the new normal, robots are getting rolled out to the real world sooner than ever. As businesses and governments search for innovative ‘contact-less’ solutions, the robots have been given new responsibilities in the Covid-19 pandemic. They are helping the frontline workers help fight the deadly virus. The impact of Coronavirus on robotics is quite significant and its effect will be witnessed in the long-run.
The pandemic has strengthened the ground for robotics and automation, where the growing need for automation is on the forefront. Although now, leaders in robotics are focusing on solving the immediate issues prosed by the pandemic, but in the long-run, this will lay the foundation of an automated future. In a post Covid world, organizations will increasingly adopt robotic process automation (RPA) to automate repetitive operational tasks, which will help them minimize any future disruptions.
4. DARQ technologies, mature digital technologies & scientific advancements
Heralded as the technology powerhouse of the future, the applications of DARQ technologies have grown rapidly in the last few years. DARQ (Distributed Ledger Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Extended Reality, and Quantum computing) includes technologies such as artificial intelligence (AR), blockchain, cryptocurrency, extended reality, and quantum computing. The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to accelerate the innovation of DARQ technologies, mature digital technologies & scientific advancements.
Companies are now compelled to work in new ways and the only way to succeed is through innovation. Pivoting rapidly towards new set of challenges and priorities, businesses must embrace the new and innovative technologies so as to be prepared for any unforeseen crisis in the future.
5. Human-AI collaboration
Before the pandemic, several organizations were exploring the opportunities that came with human-AI collaboration. But now, this technology is one of the highest priorities for businesses. Human-AI collaboration is already playing a significant role in finding a vaccine for the Coronavirus. Additionally, artificial intelligence is helping organizations explore new opportunities and re-formulate strategies to build a flexible organization.
In the long term, human-AI collaboration will have an upward growth path. AI’s true potential in an enterprise lies in human-AI collaboration. For example – smart chatbots conversing with consumers as they do now, but having the capability to understand the underlying meaning of a customer’s request. Human-AI collaboration has enhanced with the advancements in NLP (natural language processing) with which machines are able to understand the context instead of just the content. In the end, human-AI collaboration will help businesses re-invent and improve their offerings and experiences continuously as per their customers’ demands.
6. Cloud computing
The post Covid world will witness the cloud technology getting implemented across various types of applications. Work from home and online learning are responsible for the surge in demand of cloud-based video conferencing apps. Several cloud service vendors are constantly upgrading their offerings so as to meet the surge in demand.
In the coming years, this technology will keep witnessing an exponential growth as businesses and educational institutions will continue to make use of it. Cloud computing has taken the centre stage and become an ‘essential’ technology due to the pandemic.
Businesses, governments and individuals across the world are depending on technology more than ever. These post Covid technology trends will be fundamental in shaping the future. Businesses must re-assess their strategies and correct their course of action so as to withstand any unfortunate crisis in the future. Covid-19 pandemic has indeed played a significant role in bolstering the new-age innovative technologies, giving the ultimate push to unleash a smarter world.
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