We are living through a global health crisis with no modern-day precedent and with a horrifying human cost, to say the least. The global pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives and daily routine and has disrupted industries across the world.
However, when there is no emergency button to press and escape reality, we might as well try to focus on the positive aspects and impact.
Governments, businesses and individuals are taking on new roles to respond to the crisis resulting to a complete re-definition of how we work, live, socialize and shop; in reality, we are witnessing transformational changes that didn't seem possible just a few weeks ago. Our response to a global crisis has been mainly characterized by care, compassion, agility and an unheard-of pace of change.
Accelerating digital transformation
We have all probably seen a certain online meme posing the burning question of ‘Who led the digital transformation in your company?’. It’s a fact that the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many companies to face and recognize the value of digital transformation. This has been a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience.
Digital transformation has become number one priority for businesses and governments around the world who are now taking all necessary actions to ensure access and capabilities in digital workplace resources and digital technologies to serve employees, customer demand and society at large. Work from home, social distancing and lockdown have forced organizations to invest in and implement projects which accelerate digital transformation and that would have otherwise been postponed or let them fall between the cracks.
‘Face-to-face’ time with customers through video services, schools providing online classes - so kids don’t fall behind, healthcare facilities expanding access to telemedicine or conference organizers holding remote events are only some examples of the new way of things.
Bringing everyone up to speed
A few weeks ago, we didn’t even think about everyday tasks like going to the office, stopping by the bank to make a payment, going shopping or hitting the gym. In today’s reality, though, how do we keep up with our daily routines while staying home?
The answer is simple – we move to digital channels. For some people, especially millennials and Gen Z, this is obvious, but there is a certain number of people who are not as familiar with digital channels, finding technology intimidating and having no trust in online transactions. In times of lockdown and social distancing, though, everyone is forced to do things the ‘digital way’ and they need to bring themselves up to speed. E-commerce, e-banking and m-banking, self-service kiosks, videoconferencing, messaging and collaboration tools and other practical and exciting things technology has to offer are now part of everyone’s daily life as it’s the only way to get things done.
Some of us are experiencing a fast track learning period when it comes to technology. This transformational impact and learnings will remain with us even after the quarantine, helping us embrace technology and becoming digitally literate.
When the news of the coronavirus outbreak spread, organizations began considering how it would affect, among others, business continuity and business model, supply chain, employee productivity and well-being and product launches.
Businesses always need robust and current continuity plans that stipulate exactly how business operations will respond to and resume after a disruption — whether it is a natural disaster, a health crisis or a disruption in operations. The health crisis we are experiencing is an unexpected crash test for organizations across the world.
Organizations already having in place business continuity plans have activated them and organizations that didn’t were forced to draft and implement such plans to reduce the impact of internal and external volatility, enabling the organization to meet its strategic objectives despite disruption.
In the ‘post-pandemic’ world, when all is said and done, most companies, having identified the successes and the flops, will have a business continuity plan in place, with the capability to get the vast majority of their workforce out of the office and working remotely if need be, while keeping IT operations and their business up and running.
Winning the fight against climate change
Many aspects of the COVID-19 response are similar to the types of changes we need as part of a comprehensive climate-change response, which poses a major threat and urgently requires to be addressed. The global nature of the pandemic has made clear that we’re all in this together and we need to harness this wave of compassion and proactivity.
Now is the time to build momentum for strong climate action. We need to trust and listen to climate scientists and experts to win the climate change fight, as we did with epidemiologists and doctors to flatten the curve of COVID-19. We have many of the tools to make major advances in addressing climate change; what we need now is the political will to apply them and a shift in culture and mindset.
Much remains uncertain about what the world will look like when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fundamental societal changes we are witnessing may well offer us a final chance to avoid a climate catastrophe.
When an incident this large and disruptive occurs, it leaves a mark on the people who live through it and affects the industry and society as a whole.
It might not be an exaggeration to say that things will never be the same again.
In the long run, COVID-19 is going to change the way we work, the way our cities run, the technologies and tools we use for daily tasks, the way we think and so much more that we couldn’t possibly predict. So, with full respect to all the destruction this situation is bringing, let’s try to acquire the knowledge, wisdom and maturity we need to get out of this stronger.