COVID-19 hastens take up of technology
Humans have a natural resistance to change, an inertia that can stifle our acceptance of technology.
However, if you throw in a mega-disruptor, let's say a global pandemic, we find ourselves adapting very quickly once change is forced upon us. Technology in the digital age has become our friend during social isolation.
In fact, prolonged social isolation has probably done more to lift our engagement with digital technology than at any other time in history.
If I was to sum up how businesses will emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be their willingness to embrace technology.
The tools to create a virtual office have been available for years, but until now most of us have been largely reluctant to employ them.
Now that we are unable to meet people face to face, most of us have become frequent users of Zoom, Microsoft Team and Skype. This has been achieved in a really short timeframe.
More people are finding that it's a great alternative to face-to-face meetings. For some it highlights the wasted time and resources spent travelling to and from meetings, while for others it opens the possibility of using this technology to work more often from the comfort of home.
This period is destined to be a catalyst for new and exciting business models, and the key to this bold future lies in 5G, artificial intelligence and the cloud.
These technologies will be the foundation for real change in the crowd economy, for example, where we are already familiar with crowd sourcing and crowd funding.
Tapping into 5G will make virtual businesses a reality - both for sole operators and
The smartness economy, or the internet of things, is also destined to kick off.
Through artificial intelligence in the cloud, you have the potential of this internet of things to turn 'dumb' objects into smart objects simply by embedding them with computer chips.
This technology could be compared to electricity more than a century ago when mundane manual tasks were able to be automated.
New business models will spawn new industries, clean and sustainable industries that will create millions of jobs.
We don't even know what these jobs are yet because the entrepreneurs who will deliver them haven't even thought of them, but they will come.
In the age of sustainability, COVID-19 has also given us a window into a world that has been forced to reduce carbon emissions.
Our skies are clearer and our waterways are cleaner. This brings into focus the benefits of the closed loop economy where resources are continually reused with little or no waste, and it highlights how existing businesses can play their part.
If this is too much change to contemplate, perhaps we could at least pause to reflect on how the digital age is shaping our future now.
There is no stopping innovation. Solutions are being sought for the problems of today, but there are many more people devising solutions to problems we are yet to encounter.
When the pandemic is behind us, the world has reset and inertia takes hold again, perhaps we can look back at this time as our great leap into the future.
Dr David Tuffley
Senior Lecturer, School of Information and Communication Technology, Griffith University
Originally published as COVID-19 hastens take up of technology