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How COVID-19 Brought on a Workplace Technology Revolution

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of daily life and companies both big and small have been impacted in a range of ways altering how every business on the globe operates. While some organizations were more equipped to deal with the sudden shift to remote work, expansion of workplace technology needs, and operational hurdles, for many the pandemic accelerated technology adoption.

A recent McKinsey survey of C-level executives across a variety of industries shows that companies have accelerated the digitization of supply chain, operations, and customer interactions by three to four years. Here are some of the key ways that technology adoption and investment have changed even the most traditional industries in 2020.

The Cloud is Critical

For many small and medium-sized businesses, COVID-19 brought on a swift change to updated IT infrastructure and cloud-storage investment. For many businesses, this move would have been a gradual and less immediate need with workers staying on site. But due to the increase in remote working and digital tools, cloud storage and security has grown massively over the course of 2020. 

In China, it was reported public cloud spending would grow 58% in 2020 with over $19 billion spent on the technology. With remote working becoming a norm across many industries the emphasis on cloud applications and storage can be expected to continue to grow.

Expansions into Ecommerce

One of the main pivots for many companies during the pandemic has been to focus on digital offerings or selling via ecommerce channels. The shift to a digital buying experience and emphasis on digital products has been profound with experts saying the pandemic has accelerated the shift from physical buying to digital shopping by five years

This push also included streamlining customer touchpoints within the buying process, and for B2B companies, expanding the number of digital offerings available and investing in services available for purchase online.

Operations Enablement 

Many companies pre-pandemic thought remote work could take 6 months to a year to roll out successfully. The opposite was obvious early this year when many organizations made the leap to remote in a matter of weeks. For companies that remained open to the public, screening, testing, and visitor protocols had to be implemented, and internal processes needed to be adapted and adjusted on the fly. 

The success for many businesses in transitioning operations procedures quickly and securely was due to added operations management technology or upgraded automated processes. Through this pandemic, many industries have found new ways to streamline and improve internal processes through the adoption of new workplace technology.

Increased Focus on Cybersecurity 

With more people working from home than ever before, cybersecurity became something many small and medium businesses prioritized more than they would have previously. In a recent study, executives named data security as one of the main ways their organization will be stronger than before the pandemic.

VPN access for externally working employees, multi-step authentication, and advanced security for cloud storage may have been new investments for many smaller businesses. These upgrades to overall workplace cybersecurity seem to be warranted as a recent study of C-level executives said that 91% of respondents saw an increase in cyberattacks during the initial work-from-home shift early in 2020.

Streamlined Implementations

Video call software, cloud storage, visitor screening apps, operations management software, and logistics applications would all have taken months to implement pre-covid. But many businesses had success adding this technology quicker than ever expected showing that software that is quick to implement and easy to use can transform business operations fast. 

Companies surveyed in a recent study said that the speed of implementing a remote working environment was about 40 times the speed they expected before the pandemic. While some traditional industries may have been avoidant of new technology pre-covid, the mood seems to have shifted after seeing the success of more modern technology and business operations. 

In 2017, a study identified that 50% of executives interviewed viewed cost savings as the highest benefit of new digital strategies. This year that number was cut to 10% and there was a growing sentiment that new technology was a true competitive advantage and a worthwhile future-proofing investment. While 2020 has been transformative in many different ways for businesses all over the world, one thing is certain, new digital technology has been embraced as a path to a successful future.