How will COVID-19 Affect Business Technology in The Future
When “the bottom fell out” in March, nobody thought that entire businesses would either cease operations, or close their offices and ask 100% of their employees to work remotely. Those businesses that had implemented or invested in remote technology such as Teams, Zoom, Amazon Workspaces and Citrix were ahead of the curve. Businesses that had not implemented any remote technology were left scrambling to fill in technological gaps.
What resulted was overloaded systems. Zoom was hit the most, resulting in complete outages, people unable to create or join meetings, and overall frustration from businesses and consumers. As Zoom upgraded its systems and people got used to the new normal, they started to realize the importance of digital technology. Consumers also came to understand the need for high-speed internet at home and digital commerce to allow them to work effectively while remote.
So, what does this all mean for the future of business technology. Here are some predictions.
- Online shopping will continue to increase: We’ve all navigated to rely on online shopping, as nearly 100,000 businesses have shut down permanently. While some businesses are open with restrictions, some consumers are convinced it’s not safe to venture from their homes. Businesses that never invested in digital commerce have had to really step up and ensure their customers could reach them digitally to communicate with them or order items digitally. According to Forbes, COVID-19 has accelerated e-commerce growth 4 to 6 years. “…it would’ve taken between 4 and 6 years to get to the levels that we saw in May if the growth continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years,” said Vivek Pandya, Adobe’s Digital Insights Manager.
- Increased use in Digital and Contactless Payments: Cash is no longer king with the possibility of spreading the coronavirus through the exchange of cash. Contactless payments have become the norm as some companies have stopped accepting cash. According to Forbes, “Contactless payments are a convenient way for customers, retailers and banks to conduct seamless, swift and socially distant transactions. Once set up, the systems are relatively maintenance-free. There are several possible downsides to contactless payments, however.”
- Businesses may need to upgrade their antiquated systems that don’t accept contactless payments
- Privacy issues that were not a problem before may come to the surface
- This may create a digital divide for consumers that do not have access to digital payment methods or may not have bank accounts
- Transaction limitations may restrict how much consumers can spend. Since May 28, 2020, “49 countries have announced contactless payment transaction limit increases, ranging from 25% to 400%, with an average of 131%.”
- Working remotely is not going anywhere: Most companies have asked their employees to work remotely indefinitely. Tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Twitter have embraced remote working, some announcing that they will allow employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. Platforms like Zoom and Teams have become an integral part of our daily lives. According to a Gartner report, “Cloud-based video conferencing tools – such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet – are set to witness a growth of 24.3% this year.” Businesses that allow employees to work remotely have a leg up over their competition, as they are able to pull from a wider pool of candidates beyond their geographic limitations.
- Telehealth is now a thing: Telehealth technology has grown leaps and bounds due to COVID. Prior to the pandemic, US law dictated that telehealth could only be used for Medicare in limited circumstances. In 2020, the US government removed these barriers and allowed telemedicine to be covered under Medicare. Consequently, companies have recognized its benefits and have added it as part of their health incentives. Per the CDC, during the first quarter of 2020, the number of telehealth visits increased by 50%, compared with the same period in 2019.
- Supply Chain Management Systems Must Change: Going to a store and finding the production or service that you were looking for is something that people have taken for granted. When COVID hit, some consumer products became incredibly scarce. While some of this was due to supply and demand, the other contributing factor was that companies either shut down or ceased operations, causing a disruption in the global supply chain. This halt was coupled with tariffs and export bans imposed between China and the US. “Heavy reliance on paper-based records, a lack of visibility on data and lack of diversity and flexibility have made existing supply chain systems vulnerable to any pandemic.” Companies will have to invest in more robust Supply Chain Management Systems that utilize technologies such as Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. This will allow for more secure data, better data accuracy and data sharing.
- 3D Printing use is growing: Because the warehouses and production cycles have been disrupted due to COVID, companies have had to find alternative production methods. 3D printing has been used to fill these gaps and allows more production flexibility than a typical production line, i.e. a 3D printer can be utilized to produce more than one product. 3D printers also reduce the need to order parts typically needed to produce a final product. Lastly, designs on 3D printers can be created on readily available software such as Autodesk Fusion and FreeCAD which makes rapid production of new products easier on businesses.
- Business have had to rethink Robot and Drone use: Companies have historically utilized and conceptualized the use of robots and drones to replace humans in the production process and to deliver products directly to customers. As e-commerce has significantly increased, supply chain companies have had to address challenges with package delivery. Companies like Amazon recently received FAA approval to deliver products directly to customers via drone, eliminating the need to rely on an already fractured supply chain.However, robots and drones do not necessarily benefit every situation. For example, Walmart has experimented with using robots to track stocked items. They quickly realized it was faster and more cost-effective to use human associates to maintain this role. Each business situation will be different, but there is no doubt that companies need to determine if robotics and drones can benefit their business.
COVID-19 has forced us to take into account many technological considerations in order remain relevant in this changing climate. The good news is that Collective Insights offers a range of expertise and services to help your organization acclimate. We will analyze your existing architecture and provide strategic recommendations and roadmaps based on the current business best practices. Since so many people are utilizing technology, you will want to consider security, process automation and cloud computing to improving your business efficiency and to reduce costs.
Our team can support you through our Business Transformation Services, including Strategic Planning and Business Architecture, which are supported through our Technology, Information and Security Services. We will analyze your business model, the current business landscape, build a roadmap with your goals and objectives (operational and financial) and help you to implement them into your business.
Ensuring these changes are fully communicated and integrated into your organization are also important. Through our Organizational Change Services, we will help drive adoption, create strategic communications and design any necessary training to establish full integration in your business.
Interested in Learning more about the impacts of COVID-19? Check out our blog regarding travel, and stay tuned for our next blog post regarding the future of business real estate due to the pandemic.
 Xiao, Yan & Fan, Ziyang (2020, April 7) 10 technology trends to watch in the COVID-19 pandemic. From https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/10-technology-trends-coronavirus-covid19-pandemic-robotics-telehealth/
 Admin (2020, September 19) 100,000 Restaurants Shutdown in Pandemic, Could it Be Permanent? From https://dailybusinessjournal.com/2020/09/19/100000-restaurants-shutdown-in-pandemic-could-it-be-permanent/
 The New York Times (2020, Nov 30) See Coronavirus Restrictions and Mask Mandates for All 50 States. From https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-map-coronavirus.html
 Koetsier, John (2020, June 12) COVID-19 Accelerated E-Commerce Growth ‘4 To 6 Years’. From https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/06/12/covid-19-accelerated-e-commerce-growth-4-to-6-years/
 Novet, Jordan (2020, March 18) Zoom CFO explains how the company is grappling with increased demand. From https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/zoom-cfo-explains-how-the-company-is-grappling-with-increased-demand.html
 Sheluchin, Anwar (2020, July 7) Cash and the coronavirus: COVID-19 is changing our relationship with money. From https://theconversation.com/cash-and-the-coronavirus-covid-19-is-changing-our-relationship-with-money-138774
 Bailey, Jonathan (2020, February 10) Why are businesses starting to not accept cash payments? From https://www.banklesstimes.com/2020/02/10/why-are-businesses-starting-to-not-accept-cash-payments/
 Walden, Stephanie (2020, June 12) Banking After COVID-19: The Rise of Contactless Payments in the U.S. From https://www.forbes.com/advisor/banking/banking-after-covid-19-the-rise-of-contactless-payments-in-the-u-s/
 Ortutay, Barbara (2020, May 22) Working from home post-COVID-19? Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Microsoft embracing remote work. From https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/05/22/coronavirus-remote-work-post-pandemic/5242420002/
 Timesofindia.com (2020, June 3) Users may spend a lot more money on Zoom, Google Meet in 2020, Gartner. From https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/gadgets-news/2020-will-see-users-spending-a-lot-more-money-on-zoom-google-meet-gartner/articleshow/76158048.cms
 Koonin, Lisa M. DrPH1; Hoots, Brooke PhD1; Tsang, Clarisse A., MPH1; Leroy, Zanie MD1; Farris, Kevin MAEd1; Jolly, B. Tilman, MD2; Antall, Peter MD3; McCabe, Bridget MD4; Zelis, Cynthia B.R., MD5; Tong, Ian MD6; M. Harris, Aaron, MD1 From https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6943a3.htm
 McFarland, Matt (2020, August 31) Amazon gets closer to drone delivery with FAA approval. From https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/tech/amazon-drone-faa-approval/index.html#:~:text=Amazon%20is%20the%20third%20drone%20delivery%20company%20to,received%20their%20own%20in%202019.%20UPS%20has%20made.htm