What the hell do we do now?

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Put our heads down and do what the technology community always does – innovate.

First, take a deep breath.

We are all reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. It is frightening and forcing us to take a hard look at how we think about and operate our societies, economies, daily lives, and of course, our businesses. In some ways, it feels as if life has stopped, or if we are stuck in a Groundhog Day time loop, just like Bill Murray.

We will, however, eventually get back to “normalcy” - albeit a new normalcy – and it makes sense to use this time to reflect on what that might look like and how we can use technology to create a a more secure and resilient world.

In business terms, this is a 9/11 level, black swan event that will have impacts that are yet to be understood and will likely evolve over some period of time. As members of the technology community, we typically respond to this type of crisis with sober enthusiasm, asking ourselves “how can we innovate out of this crisis or prevent the next one?”

We have many of the tools in our toolbox that have yet to be fully exploited. I am confident that some of this tech is about to be stretched to new extremes.

VIDEO CONFERENCING MORPHS INTO VIRTUAL REALITY The obvious elephant in the room is video conferencing. It’s been around for some time in various incarnations, but only recently has become reliable and accessible enough for routine use. The pandemic has triggered explosive video conferencing growth as B2B, B2C. G2G, G2B, and G2C organizations of every stripe turn to virtual connections. Not to mention Zoom being Grandma’s new best friend. In a matter of days and weeks, will have come to rely on this tech in unprecedented ways bringing it firmly into the mainstream of our lives.

  • Along with many mainstream conferences and events, Adobe’s digital experience conference has gone fully digital – which one might argue should have been the case anyway just to make the point. Many of these are now offered as free virtual experiences. ·

  • Universities have launched mainstream distance learning initiatives. Where the technology platform allows, secondary and primary schools are following suit. Not to mention remote classes of every conceivable type from dance to cooking, martial arts to theatre, music to art. Virtual is the new experience,

  • Telemedicine is being embraced to protect Seniors and other vulnerable populations to deliver both physical and mental health.

  • Telework has been embraced far beyond the bounds of traditional technology companies as Skyping and Zooming from the basement is no longer relegated to the insufferable introverts.

And as this shift to virtual platforms explodes and the limits of video conferencing are strained, Virtual Reality (VR) technology will get a big boost from this crisis. As innovators exhaust the capabilities of video conferencing, the promise of VR to take virtual meetings, attend events and classes, perhaps even University, consult with doctors, or even manage the day-to-day office experience with a new level of virtual interactivity will drive innovation and investment.

The cost of VR development will be far more appealing as organizations evaluate the impact of global transportation infrastructure shutdown and the potential of on-going, or even sporadic quarantines. This will further impact the justification and necessity of “in person” interaction.