Technology Trends Impacting the Future of Business
What will work look like in the post-COVID-19 era and which technologies will define it? Many businesses are moving to an all-remote model using collaboration platforms as long-term effects from the pandemic change how we work.
COVID-19’s Impact on Life and Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted life and work in ways that were unimaginable and will have long-term effects that lead to a new “normal.” With many countries and states beginning to re-open and create plans for the future, it’s becoming clear that going back to the way things were overnight (or at all) is not possible. While global lockdowns have and will continue to impact hobbies and passions, the way the world works may forever change as well.
According to a survey from Gartner, “74% [of CFO’s] will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.” While this decision could save organizations significant sums by reducing costs associated with renting a physical workspace, this move to more permanent remote work will have downstream impacts. Commercial real estate, for example, will take a big hit. Per the survey findings, “13% of respondents noted they had already made cost reductions in real estate expenses, with another 9% planning to take actions in this area in the coming months.”
Additionally, remote work has brought new challenges to productivity and work/life balance. Many workers no longer have separation from spouses, roommates, pets or children that they normally have during the day which leads to increased or unwanted distractions. Parents must take part in home-schooling their children and teaching them new technology skills in order to take online classes and complete assignments. Video conferencing enables collaboration between teams to continue, but with dogs barking, children screeching and (sometimes comical) interruptions from roommates, these meetings which used to happen in the vacuum of a board or conference room aren’t as effective. Despite some of these challenges of remote or virtual work, technology has made it possible for many businesses to continue running.
Moving Work Forward with Digital Transformation
Working remotely will likely become more commonplace post-COVID. Some companies, like Zillow and Twitter, are already embracing this new way of working and are loosening policies around coming into the office every day, or at all. This is where the power of digital transformation has and will become even stronger as the world continues to practice social distancing while keeping business moving forward. Real estate, finance, retail, even healthcare and other typical brick-and-mortar industries can maintain their workforce and thrive in the most challenging of times with the support of digital technology. As more businesses require digitization to stay afloat, these trends will help them build, create and innovate new solutions as a new normal takes shape:
- Collaboration Platforms: Collaboration and innovation go hand-in-hand, meaning it’s important to keep teams connected when working remotely. Luckily, there are many tools available that make remote collaboration possible. The key is to find the sweet spot of just the right amount of tools that meet the needs of the organization without causing burnout or toil. Here are a few collaboration tools to consider:
- Jira: Work management tool for tracking client project tasks, internal IT tasks, internal project tasks, etc.
- Zoom: A virtual meeting tool with a great combination of free and paid features for online meetings
- Google Drive: Documentation, estimation, presentations, client communication, etc.
- GitLab/GitHub: Source code management, code reviews, merges and all code-related workflows
- Slack: Team-based real-time communication
- Electronic-everything: Work is not the only activity going remote. As more people become and remain concerned about congregating in large groups or close quarters, just about everything needs to have a digital experience. Schools and universities have transitioned to e-learning as campuses have shut down – with many considering keeping some aspects of online learning post-pandemic. Healthcare providers have adopted digital ways of connecting with patients who are unable to make appointments in-person, either because of facility regulations or personal fears of going out. E-commerce is booming as brick-and-mortar stores have shuttered doors, and apps like Instacart or Shipt help vulnerable groups or those wanting to avoid interaction at grocery stores to still safely keep their food stocked. Bottom line – a safe bet for any business moving forward will be to provide some type of digital experience.
- Low-code/No-code Development: As businesses turn to technology to adapt to the new ways of working, low-code and no-code development will be critical for helping support digital transformation efforts. Low-code and no-code development require little to no code to build applications meaning that the most experienced developers, down to marketing teams, can understand and build applications just as easily. According to Forrester, the market for low-code development platforms will increase to $21.2 billion by 2022. Why? These platforms allow for greater agility and cost-savings, which will continue to be key benefits in any organization looking to stay ahead of digital transformation.
- Distributed Agile Software Development: While low-code and no-code development will help organizations innovate quickly, there are still some larger projects that require deeply skilled engineers. As the world looks to a future of more remote work, distributed agile software development will play a larger role. This type of development empowers technology teams who are either working remotely from the same locale, or may be working in several time zones, to complete projects in a way that is collaborative, fast and iterative. It will be up to leaders to foster a culture where teams are highly motivated, passionate and to provide visibility into progress and roadblocks. There are also plenty of tools available for project management and collaboration that make it easier for engineering teams to stay on task and deliver software in a timely manner.
There is no doubt that the post-pandemic world will be different. While it may present new challenges both personally and professionally, technology will make adapting easier.
As more information becomes available about COVID-19, life and work may continue to shift, but digital transformation will always be there to ebb the tides.