The ‘New Normal’ And The Future Of Technology After The Covid-19 Pandemic

We have heard our parents and grandparents brag about how they lived through some of the greatest changes in technology and communication. From the time of snail mail and telegram, to telephones, emails and mobile phones, they saw it all. All of these innovations and inventions however cannot even compete with the changes in communication that we have seen in the past one and a half years, thereby completely redefining the future of technology.

The Covid-19 pandemic did a lot more than shutting down international borders and confining us within our homes. It sped up what could possibly be some of the greatest changes in the way business and education is done today. Not only did the changes and innovations happen very soon, the way the world adopted these changes was also commendable for the fast pace and compressed time. The pandemic has definitely been one of the hardest times the modern world has had to endure, but the new changes in technology and communication made the days a little better than what they could have been. It is safe to say we are living in a time which is present but is actually a time that can be described as the future of technology. 

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The new technological advancements have done to business and education, what the vaccines are doing to the novel coronavirus. Yes problems of physical distancing exist, just the way the virus exists, but with tools to fight the pandemic like the advanced vaccines that were developed all over the world, new technology in communication is helping us fight the problems that are arising due to locked borders, empty university campuses and deserted office buildings.

We often find ourselves asking the question what life after the pandemic will be. Is our present life the new normal? Fareed Zakaria quotes in his recently launched book, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World that once the pandemic is over, life “is going to be, in many aspects, a sped-up version of the world we knew.” This can also be applied to the amazing future of technology we are seeing right before our eyes. With the pandemic, the world accepted the implementation of so many things as far as technology is concerned, which without Covid-19 may have taken decades to implement across the globe.

We used to step out of the house every day, have high-touch personal interactions at school, work and during recreational activities. With the onset of the pandemic we started doing all of these things from the comfort of our homes. While life did not stop functioning, we however possibly became closer to being digitally addicted.

By looking at trends from previous pandemics it is safe to understand that epidemics and pandemics play a big role in what the future of technology looks like. A similar pattern has always followed when a virus breaks out domestically or internationally. E-commerce was swiftly adopted in China during the 2005 SARS epidemic and e-commerce continues to be the way all of China shops even today. The 1918 pandemic recharged and pushed the attention towards innovation as well as research in public health, clinical infections and microbiology.

As far as automation and digitalization is concerned, the speed at which it is being accepted and implemented is absolutely accelerated. The things that we always believed had to be done in person are now being seamlessly achieved online in a virtual manner. Distance learning, seeing your doctor online or talking to them on the phone, shopping for groceries, playing games with friends and family online, and fitness training, all can now be done from home, sometimes at a fraction of the original cost. Most importantly client meetings, board meetings, interviews and exams are also being held online now, along with virtual High Court and Supreme Court hearings.

Knowledge workers are the ones who have gained the most from working from home and even seen an increase in productivity. Everyone is eager to know how things will be post the pandemic. Gartner conducted a survey that states 82% employers will let remote work be an option for some more time, while 47% employers will let remote work be a permanent condition. The future of organisations is highly dependent on the future of technology. With the way new technology is being improved each day, it is not surprising that most industries are happy with the permanent shift to virtual work culture.

Software like Teams, Zoom and Slack that enable video and audio chatting along with other features like file and screen sharing have played a major role in ensuring work never had to be compromised throughout the pandemic. They also helped families feel closer even though they were miles and oceans apart from each other. Most of these technologies were present before as well, but the growth in their use after covid-19 has been tremendous, and looks like they are not going anywhere, anytime soon.

The future of technology also expects to see mainstream usage of touch less or hands free technology as well as automation in the form of robots that can mimic tasks done by humans. Customer service and supply chains are most likely to see more automation and AI employees. With the arrival of 5G technology, touchless instruments will soon be available globally and we may even see the day when robots make our drinks and foods. Devices with new technology are already being designed keeping in mind a principle of minimal intervention by humans. An example of AI and automation becoming more mainstream is self-checking in kiosks at airports that passengers of all ages are adapting to, and using this technology even if it is for a few minutes.

It is impossible to discuss the future of technology without mentioning the MVP which is biotechnology. We saw vaccine roll outs within 10 months that were safe with more than 90% efficacy. Until a few years ago, vaccines took almost a decade to be tested and rolled out to the world.  The new mRNA technology is probably capable of making massive changes in the pharmaceutical industry and medicine. It may have a promising future in treating cancer, heart ailments and other diseases. mRNA was being worked on for almost 20 years but with the pandemic it saw a successful adoption.

The Covid-19 pandemic has helped in accelerating plenty of technologies as well as innovations. Let us prepare ourselves to continue working in hybrid mode with the help of new software and inventions and make the most of the future of technology that we can enjoy in the present.

Reference: The ‘New Normal’ And The Future Of Technology After The Covid-19 Pandemic | Forbes Council Post | Saeed Elnaj | January 25, 2021

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