While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought untold devastation of lives and livelihoods, it has also brought innovation and opportunities for companies that have managed to remain afloat. Managers of businesses of all sizes have been forced to find new ways of doing things and to make decisions much faster than ever before. With those skills in place, they’re now thinking about what happens post-pandemic and how they want to approach the “next normal.”
Many of the shifts already underway have to do with technology. But technology for technology’s sake isn’t the answer. Companies need competent professionals to help them move through their transformations to achieve new goals. Consultation, innovation, cybersecurity awareness, and software design are just a few of the services software engineers can provide to help companies strive toward new ambitions.
Speed is a critical component because companies are being forced to do within a period of months what they thought would take years. Additionally, competitors are already ramping up their efforts to take advantage of pent-up demand for products and services when the pandemic ends, so companies need to keep up. Here we explore several areas where software engineering outsourcing is helping to drive this post-pandemic digital acceleration.
Digital transformation begins with a deep understanding of a company’s current capabilities and needs for moving forward. Software professionals can help with a thorough analysis and consulting to create a viable plan.
For example, many companies are struggling with the challenges of a remote work environment. While a team may have cobbled together a solution involving various commercially available applications since the start of the pandemic, it may not be suitable for long-term use. Given that many companies that have shifted to a partial or full remote work arrangement will continue it post-pandemic, this problem is a necessary one to solve.
A digital strategy for moving forward might include a platform that integrates some of the functions now being performed by separate (and not always compatible) applications, including communication, production, and operations. Software professionals have their fingers on the pulse of how enterprises are resolving similar issues and can offer suggestions based on successful real-world outcomes.
Companies in a wide variety of industries have the opportunity to fundamentally change the way they take advantage of technology. They include the tech industry itself as well as energy, healthcare, ecommerce, manufacturing, and retail enterprises. As one example, telehealth is finding its way into the mainstream as a way of delivering healthcare. But how can providers ensure their processes are working well to deliver patient care?
Software professionals can help provide answers by recommending solutions already in place or by developing custom applications that take into consideration the unique needs of a specific healthcare organization. The same is true with retail establishments, which have been battered by social distancing requirements. Yet these businesses can bounce back with things like “touchless” shopping and remote customer assistance.
Likewise, chatbots and robots are becoming bigger presences in many fields. Chatbots are evolving to be more than just glorified FAQs. As natural language processing (NLP) enables them to understand more about what people really want, they’re able to provide more in-depth responses and solutions. For example, in healthcare, future chatbots may be able to do everything from schedule appointments to check patient symptoms.
Robots are increasing efficiency in industries from healthcare (performing simple tasks like taking patient temperatures, cleaning, and delivering food) to manufacturing (putting pieces together into an entire machine). In an office environment, they may soon be able to perform tasks like typing and answering phones. Amazon, which famously uses robots to fulfill orders, has purchased a robotics company to operate in warehouses, vehicles, and drones.
The more technology matures, the more susceptible it becomes to cybersecurity threats. That’s especially true with cloud-based solutions and internet-connected technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT). Without professional know-how — and with other concerns, such as revenue and production targets, taking precedence — companies can easily allow cybersecurity to fall down on the priority list.
Results can range from the slightly problematic, like production delays, to the catastrophic, like large amounts of proprietary company data or customer information falling into the wrong hands. The latter could mean that cleaning up the mess requires time, money, and effort that could be much better spent on research and development, production, or customer care.
Additionally, cybersecurity experts are increasingly aware that threats don’t just come from outside of organizations. They come from within, too. That’s why zero-trust (ZT) security models are becoming more popular. Professionals in this area can help companies develop plans that require continuous authentication, authorization, and validation of all system users.
Because this field is highly complex and constantly evolving, even companies with robust IT departments should consider consulting with a cybersecurity expert before developing any new technology plans.
Enterprise Software Design
After consulting, innovating, and addressing cybersecurity issues, software experts have the skills to design and develop custom applications. As just one example, omnichannel communication is extremely important as customers continue to demand the ability to reach customer care representatives through the channel they pick at the time of their choosing.
Yet, commercial enterprise systems may not meet this need. Companies that require specific features depend on software engineers to create a solution that flawlessly serves them and their customers.
These experts can also help companies take more control of their own software development in the long term. Low-code and no-code platforms enable those without specialized expertise to use visual components to drag and drop and quickly create software with specific requirements. Naturally, these alternatives won’t provide the sophistication level needed to develop complex systems, but it can be a good alternative for smaller and simpler systems.
Creating the Next Normal
The way things are shaping up, the next normal is set to look a lot like the new normal we’ve grown used to during the pandemic. Innovation, fast decisions, and letting go of some old roadblocks are sure to characterize digital acceleration moving forward. As companies begin this exciting move, they should take advantage of the expertise of those who are already doing it, who can help them achieve more than ever.