As the Coronavirus hit countries around the world, governments, companies, and institutions of all industries and sectors turned to technology for help. Be it to offer better treatment from those infected with the disease or to keep a business running, technology has been the go-to resource to cope with the many challenges brought by the pandemic.
The use of technology has been so widespread that many tech trends have solidified during the pandemic, and some of them will most likely become standards in different fields. There are many technological advances worth mentioning here, so I’ve made a selection of the five most important ones that have thrived during the COVID-19 crisis, and that will surely be with us in the post-pandemic world.
1. The Use of AI and Tech in Healthcare
Given that we’re talking about a health crisis here, it’s only natural to start with what healthcare has done with tech during the pandemic. Thus, it’s worth noting that the Coronavirus has accelerated the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in real-life scenarios. While it’s true that the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare institutions worldwide had already been using AI for their practices, the pandemic indeed rushed its use.
There are plenty of examples to support that. For instance, there were a couple of AI platforms that warned about the virus outbreak that was to come. They did so by analyzing the vast amounts of data coming from multiple sources, which led them to find a pattern that triggered a warning about the upcoming virus and the possible destinations where it could hit next.
Then, there are the AI algorithms that are collaborating with the analysis of the virus and the development of a potential vaccine for it. Though those algorithms aren’t mature enough to come up with sophisticated insights or a vaccine candidate on their own, they undoubtedly have helped with data processing that could suggest researchers on paths to follow.
AI wasn’t the only tech that soared during the pandemic. Telehealth (tools used to diagnose and treat patients remotely) has also exploded and promises to stay after the pandemic. Given the strict stay-at-home orders implemented by many governments around the world, people resorted to their smartphones for medical consultation and saw that they could get a proper assessment without having to go to a clinic.
2. The Tech Redefinition of Deliveries
Technology has been changing the retail industry for quite a while now through delivery apps and enterprise software for management. Naturally, the quarantine drove online sales and further cemented those delivery apps as a preferred method for ordering food, clothes, medicines, and more. However, there were another couple of tech-driven advancements in the distribution sector during this pandemic.
The first was the emergence of contactless and driverless deliveries. With the sharp increase in online sales, companies needed to find a way to ensure everyone involved in the distribution chain. Thus, they resorted to those new ways of delivering. On the one hand, contactless delivery quickly became a preferred method to deliver packages, as it reduced the interactions between drivers and customers to a minimum.
On the other hand, there was the rise of autonomous vehicles and drones to deliver items safely. These new deliverers are surely here to stay and become more common in the months to come, even after the pandemic subsides. That’s because they are highly efficient and tireless while they also ensure a more sanitized delivery. This concern will surely be a priority for companies and clients from now on.
3. The Rapid Adoption of Remote Work Tools
When the Coronavirus started to spread throughout the world, governments were forced to issue stay-at-homes orders to prevent the virus from spreading. That meant a major disruption for businesses of all sizes and industries that had to close their offices’ doors without a specific date for return. Faced with this challenge, many companies adopted a working model that most of them were reluctant to choose before the pandemic – the work from home model.
As the pandemic went on and on, those companies started to see the benefits of remote work – and they began to consider embracing the model for good. Such a shift in consideration of this model propelled old and new technologies into the spotlight. Already established platforms like Slack and the Google Suite saw huge increments on their userbases while new applications like Zoom rose to stardom.
I’m pretty sure there will be other enterprise software that will seize the opportunity to become a standard for remote work in the post-pandemic world. But the real trend here is the actual rise of remote work as a valid alternative for many companies. From retailers to banks, many businesses found allies in remote work tools that were already there, but that proved essential to keeping things going during the crisis. The adoption of those tools and the remote model accelerated in the last few months to a point where they’ll be mainstream alternatives from now on.
4. The Rise of Virtual Experiences
Stay-at-home orders didn’t just affect work – they also forced us to look for ways to be entertained as weeks and weeks went by. Sure, a lot of us went with traditional alternatives like watching Netflix or sleeping. But there was a considerable amount of people that wanted something else who fostered a new trend during this pandemic – the rise of virtual experiences.
Without the possibility to open their doors, museums quickly introduced their virtual tours. Thus, anyone looking for something different to spend some time could get online and visit virtual replicas of the British Museum, the Guggenheim, or the Rijksmuseum. Soon, zoos, famous landmarks, and even theme parks started offering virtual tours of their own. Thus, many people “traveled virtually” to wander about them, daydreaming of the time when they could visit the real thing.
Things didn’t end there. Seminars, conferences, and even concerts moved to the virtual realm. In that way, people could use their computers or smartphones to attend exciting events, hear respected speakers talk, or even enjoy intimate music sessions with their favorite artists. Video games did they part too, with Fortnite paving the way for musicians like Travis Scott or Diplo launching their new albums within the game.
It’s easy to see all of those experiences sticking around after the pandemic is gone. Even when we’ll be able to live the real things, all of them provide a different kind of experience that people already got used to, and that will surely become new ways of entertainment in the post-pandemic world.
5. The Emergence of Tracking Applications
Finally, let’s take a look at the most controversial tech trend emerging during pandemic-tracking applications. To reduce contagion, several countries around the world pushed for the use of mobile apps with tracking abilities to understand the movements of the population and prevent further spreading of the disease.
Some of those countries (like Russia and China) forced their citizens to download the applications as a way to track their location and contain any potential outbreak. Other countries have asked citizens to do so voluntarily to replicate those efforts without the authoritarian aura that comes out of imposing a tracking application on the population.
The results varied, and the efforts proved more successful in more authoritarian countries, where the tracking information coming from the apps was combined with data from other sources, especially that coming from face identification cameras placed in public places. That means that the technology was more effective where its use is more controversial, as the tracking worked better with less privacy for the citizens.
Controversial as it is, this trend is undoubtedly here to stay, mainly because face identification algorithms and tracking apps can also be used for security purposes (such as addressing crime-ridden neighborhoods or fighting terrorism).
Tech is Already Reshaping the Post-Pandemic World
The Coronavirus pandemic provided a context ripe for tech innovation. There were many new challenges to address, and we all did what we’re used to doing to face them – use technology to help us overcome them. In doing so, we accelerated the development of different technologies already among us but whose uses were limited or experimental.
Thus, it’s only natural for the post-pandemic world to have those technologies at the core of different experiences and services. Since they are already proving to be useful during a crisis, it’s evident that they’ll be helpful in the creation of a new normalcy. In fact, in a certain sense, they are already aiding with the creation of that post-pandemic world, a more technological planet that will be very different from what we used to know.