In 2021, the world has truly been invited to embrace technology. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued forcing people to physically isolate, the need for clever tech solutions has escalated.
Never has it been more apparent that every company is a tech company. There’s simply no alternative in a post-pandemic world.
Facebook’s recent transition to its new identity, Meta, perhaps perfectly embodies the change. The next era of the company capitalizes on the desire to “share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together – and do things you couldn’t do in the physical world”. It translates isolated experiences – which the pandemic has normalized – into places of possibility.
But the pandemic has presented plenty of possibilities in its own right. This year has signalled a particularly exciting shift for women in tech. It’s compounded the need for diverse skills and talent in technology roles.
If ever there’s a time for us to rise up and claim a seat at the table – it’s now.
Humanity’s first pandemic in an age of digital technology
COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic the human race has experienced. But it’s the first we’ve endured through the age of digital technology. In many cases this has allowed people to continue certain aspects of life (and work) via the use of technology.
According to research from Accenture, “Cloud spending in the first quarter of 2020 was nearly triple that of the previous year, and by November, 70% of companies using cloud had plans to increase spending due to the disruption.” Companies have been flocking to the digital space, and this is sure to continue.
Isolation and social distancing practices have also led to innovative tech solutions that enable:
- New ways of operating – From contactless supply chain systems, to more efficient QR code-led service at restaurants and venues.
- New ways of working – With many roles adjusting to remote work or hybrid work styles, and companies opening up to global recruitment possibilities (so you can get a job at top companies, while living anywhere in the world!).
- New ways of connecting – From accessing care through TeleHealth services, to chatting online via social media and video platforms.
So while the pandemic has shaped our relationship with technology in that we rely on it more and sometimes love to hate it (we’re looking at you, Zoom calls) – the reverse is also true.
Technology has shaped our very experience of the pandemic. It’s offered new opportunities and solutions for our lives and businesses. It’s even shifted the way entire industries function.
How tech is shifting business models
Restaurants and Retail
QR codes were an overlooked technology up until the beginning of the pandemic (in most Western countries, anyway). But now we can’t imagine a trip to the grocery store without seeing several (dozen) QR codes along the way.
While it’s being applied in innovative ways across many industries, QR technology is particularly gaining traction in the restaurant and retail industries. It’s allowing customers to order items from a menu without speaking to a staff member (or waiting in a queue), and it’s assisting buyers in accessing more information and services, simply by waving a phone camera over a code. We see QR codes staying relevant for some time now.
Banking and Finance
An industry historically weighed down by bureaucracy and business hours, banking has experienced a much-needed shake-up thanks to the pandemic. Businesses seeking more efficient, contactless financial services have been inspired to consider the benefits of e-banking, forcing financial institutions to improve the quality of their apps and digital platforms to ease this transition.
A general shift towards digital processes and technologies has also sparked further considerations around the positives of open banking, supported by blockchain technology.
If trading online currency seemed strange enough in recent times, the rise of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) may be even more baffling. But it’s yet another trend that’s taken off during the pandemic – this time in the art world. The technology allows people to trade online art for enjoyment, or for investment opportunities like with traditional art collecting.
And while galleries and museums have undoubtedly suffered with the loss of physical attendance, COVID has spawned a new era of virtual galleries featuring incredible technology (photogrammetry!) to engage audiences who tune in from their own homes.
Sports and technology have long been used together. But the fitness industry took a major turn during the pandemic – gyms and providers employing sophisticated tech platforms to deliver quality at-home experiences.
Peloton is a prime example – combining a physical product with online technology to help initiate a fitness craze during lockdowns. There’s no doubt that new technologies will continue to contribute to the pandemic-driven overhaul of the fitness industry.
Leadership in the tech age
For women in tech, the global shift in business models spells opportunity. All companies across all industries need a diverse, tech-literate workforce to get ahead of the curve.
But beyond hard tech capabilities, the world needs women in leadership roles with the right combination of soft skills and tech-focused approaches.
“86% of executives agree their organization must train its people to think like technologists—to use and customize technology solutions at the individual level, but without highly technical skills”, according to Accenture.
This is an exciting time to be figuring out not only what you want to do in your career, but how to combine your personal interests and values with your work values.
It’s 2021. Every industry is a tech industry. What will your role be?