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24 March, 2021

Digital Acceleration in Pandemic – Is it here to Stay or become Redundant?

Irrespective of one’s industry or location, we have all been affected by the pandemic in some way or another. When the COVID-19 crisis almost brought everything to a standstill, technology came at the frontier to bridge the communication gaps left by the social distancing. Not stopping here, the IT sector enabled business continuity by introducing tools and models that we can strongly state were not a ‘temporary gap’ arrangement. Experts say that the industry saw a leap in digital adoption at a rate of 3-5 years in just the last nine months of 2020. The world collectively overcame the crisis by relying on technology and driving it to advance at break-neck rates.

Now, with the talks of a vaccine showing the promise of fruition and with businesses warming up to tackle yet another new-normal, the natural question on everyone’s mind is this: How many of the changes, particularly the integration of new, digital tools and models as a part of the Covid-Crisis-Management, are here to stay? Or are they destined to be (or even possible to be) reduced to history?

The one thing that the turbulence of yesteryear brought to stark notice is how unprepared for the crisis humanity was. Going back to the pre-Covid times is not only impractical but also completely futile. Going ahead, ‘Reset’ and not ‘Restart’ is the most promising solution for all the business sectors worldwide.

Here’s an evaluation of some popular digitization trends that emerged to cope with the world-wide lockdown and how they might fare in the near future.

Work Flexibly and from Anywhere:

Work from Home wasn’t unheard of pre-Covid. Businesses had been converting and begun to embrace remote work options for their employees as a way to enhance their employee experience. Another widely embraced concept was that of BYOD or Bring Your Own Device.

Post-Covid while Work from Anywhere is expected to gain precedence in popularity, businesses will also rush to adopt standardized IT solutions including BYOD and flexible tech initiatives. It might become a popular norm to choose to spend their budgets on a management infrastructure to enforce company technology policy on employee devices instead of providing them with company-owned devices. Technology has certainly become a game-changer and enabled companies to define new norms of workplaces. In essence, this crisis may finally bring about the ‘end of the PC era’ that has been forecasted for quite some time now.

Accelerated Adoption of Cloud:

As with most technology advances, enterprises had already been gradually migrating to the cloud before 2020. However, effectively, according to the data from McKinsey & Company, most businesses had only moved about 20% of their workloads into the cloud – which, needless to say, hampered their ability to reallocate resources and facilitate smooth support for their workers when forced to work remotely indefinitely.

This move accelerated during the lockdown with an 80% boosted Cloud spending noted. Post-pandemic, cloud migration will not just be a means to increase flexibility and decrease technology operating expenses but it will be an important aspect of digital reinvention that most businesses will be racing towards as well as for future preparedness for the unforeseen crisis of a scale as this one. The effect of a pandemic will prompt even businesses who were sceptical or weren’t planning on shifting to the cloud too, now that the many advantages of modern cloud solutions have been on very public display in recent days.

Routinized Stress Testing:

Also called ‘torture testing’, this practice of finding breaking points, test limits, and observe network performance at extremes had always been deemed critical to daily operations. However, the pandemic truly redefined what gets classified as ‘mission-critical’ for IT operations and this is something that is likely to change.

With the predicted surge in online and digital adoption for many services like retail, education, and payment transactions as well as with the expected adoption of the remote working norms by the employees, it is easy to predict that network-wide stress testing, especially one backed by automation, is not far from becoming the operating standard. It will become necessary to make sure that WAN-side services are equipped for a complete traffic reversal like the one businesses were forced to accommodate.

Boost for Automation:

Like every item on this list, automation was already a buzzword for years now. Its benefits had widely been realized and popularized in the marketing and retail sector. Which, again like every topic covered so far, saw innovative and imaginative adoption throughout the crisis and is expected to stay.

AI and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) have seen rapid integration into various industry sectors. Larger organizations are even set to automate routine day-to-day tasks wherever possible – a trend that is foreseen to continue. More and more businesses are expected to invest in technologies such as these going ahead since automation is a guaranteed way to minimize disruptions like the one the world is dealing with now – because computers not only stay unaffected by global pandemics and worldwide shutdowns, but with minimal costs and human intervention, they can tackle lesser, everyday crisis effectively too.

Moving forward, it would be a critical necessity for IT companies to innovate in a way that allows them to devise specific long-term plans and strategies capable of handling unpredictable futures. While most of those strategies will align with the points mentioned here, there is also a good possibility for the future to shape up into something completely unseen, at a rate completely unwitnessed.

However, one thing is for certain – the pandemic has altered and reshaped the IT environment in the business operational domain tremendously and in ways that none other global crisis had managed to do before. The outcomes of this, both in the short-term and the long-term, are sure to have a lasting effect. While the current New-Normal is set to change, it will only do so to pave the way for a new New-Normal – the normal of 2019 is definitely history.

Article Published on ‘The Bridge Chronicle’. Click here to read.