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How and why tech accelerated during COVID

Article provided by Incredible Connection

During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology is playing a crucial role in keeping our society functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. The pandemic has accelerated technology trends, including online shopping, digital payments, telehealth and robotics.

These trends are helping build a resilient society, as well as changing the way we do business, how we trade, how we work, how we produce goods, how we learn, how we seek medical services and how we entertain ourselves.

COVID-19 has transformed online shopping from a nice-to-have to a must-have around the world. Though in-person delivery is not virus-proof. Necessary measures to avoid as much contact as possible and remain hygienic were implemented by many merchants such as contactless delivery services where goods are picked up and dropped off at a designated location instead of from or into the hands of a person.

Customer behaviours and preferred interactions have changed significantly, and while they will continue to shift, the uptick in the use of digital services is here to stay, at least to some degree. 75% of people using digital channels for the first time indicate that they will continue to use them when things return to “normal”.  As a business, you will need to ensure that your digital channels are on par with or better than those of their competition to succeed in this new environment.

Contactless digital payments, either in the form of cards or e-wallets, are the recommended payment method to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Digital payments enable people to make online purchases and payments of goods, services and even utility payments. However, there are many unbanked people in South Africa, who may not have easy access to digital payments. The availability of digital payments also relies on internet availability, devices and a network to convert cash into a digitalized format.

Many companies have asked employees to work from home and schools and tertiary institutions followed suit. Remote work or study is enabled by technologies including virtual private networks (VPNs), voice over internet protocols (VoIP), virtual meetings, cloud technology, work collaboration tools and even facial recognition technologies that enable a person to appear before a virtual background to preserve the privacy of the home. 

Laptops, tablets and smartphones have become essential items in an instant with an increased demand for constant communication. An increase in home printing solutions has also become prevalent as more and more people are turning their homes into home offices. The print needs of the average family differ and the type of printer used depends on what and how much you need to print.

Software is emerging to enable sales professionals who can no longer meet with customers to conduct business remotely and asynchronously. The business travel industry may be in for a long drought, but video conferencing, augmented reality, and collaboration platforms will flourish.

The need to stay connected has increased the demand for a stable internet connection. While it is a matter of what your service provider has to offer. In addition to preventing the spread of viruses, remote work has also saved commute time and provides more flexibility.

Although quarantine measures have reduced in-person interactions significantly, human creativity has brought the party online. Cloud raves and online streaming of concerts have gained traction around the world. Streaming services and satellite providers have managed to keep us entertained for hours on end. There has also been a surge of online gaming traffic since the outbreak.

Right now it’s essential for businesses to create and maintain a strong and pervasive digital culture.

In sectors that are less impacted by the epidemic, businesses need to fundamentally rethink what creates value, what is important right now and in the future, and what role digital innovation can play in making new things happen. Companies which stay human and customer-focused and manage to quickly innovate new digital businesses to solve problems created by the new conditions are best placed to seize any nascent opportunities.

COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness, which allows business and life to continue as usual – as much as possible – during pandemics. Building the necessary infrastructure to support a digitized world and stay current in the latest technology will be essential for any business or country to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 world.

COVID-19 makes the world realize how heavily we rely on human interactions to make things work. The pandemic’s silver lining is the chance to experiment with technologies and co-operative approaches across borders that could lead to safer, more sustainable and more inclusive global futures.

Incredible Connection is a proud Partner of the NSBC