There are still many uncertainties surrounding the disruption brought about by Covid-19, both locally and globally. As it is, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned that the virus may never go away and populations will have to learn to live with it.
Following the pronouncement, it is quite clear that when it comes to business survival, the underlying theme of technological revolution will revolve around creating business models that will survive in a ‘less-contact’ society; a concept that we will see having prominence in coming months or even years.
However, unlike with past pandemics, one of key benefits that businesses have with the imposed lockdowns and remote working is the availability of internet and increased connectivity which was not present in the past.
As a result, majority of businesses have now shifted from bricks and mortar selling towards digital engagement with their customers- not only to facilitate buying and selling but in everything else regarding how businesses operations are conducted. The adaptation being perhaps the only thing helping many businesses stay afloat.
Additionally, remote work has been facilitated by technologies including virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual meetings, voice over internet protocols (VoIPs), cloud technology and an array of work from home collaboration tools.
While this technological advancement and adaptation is commendable, we can expect many more advancements and adoptions to take place in the coming months.
For instance, automation, which has so far been at loggerheads with policy makers as it was seen as an enemy to people’s jobs may find a huge acceptance and increased investments. We may start to witness autonomous warehouses, robotics and drone-delivery systems on a bigger scale.
Additionally, innovations such as digital twins will have an accelerated adoption by many companies to help with scenario planning, improve ongoing operations, train employees and to test new products or procedures before launching them to the real world.
This will especially be beneficial with the social distance measures in place. By creating a digital twin of a product for instance, insights about how to improve its operations, how to increase its efficiency or discover an issue are all possible before the actual product is released into the market.
Moreover, we can expect digital service taxes to become more widespread. In Kenya, the 2019 Finance Act outlined that income accruing through a digital marketplace is chargeable to tax.
The Act defined a digital marketplace as a platform that enables the direct interaction between buyers and sellers of goods and services through electronic means. While the tax has not yet been imposed, this is something that the government is bound to exploit now that many local businesses are going digital.
Lastly, we should expect more funds from both the public and private sectors directed towards accelerating various sustainable digital business models. We will also see more locally developed digital solutions such as gumzo.
In conclusion, COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness, so as to enable businesses and life to continue as usual during this and perhaps any other pandemic that may occur in future. Essentially, the pandemic is an inflection point that gives the old system of commuting to work for instance, a huge nudge towards advanced digital migration.
In order to remain competitive or relevant, businesses must continue building the requisite digital infrastructure to support an increasing digital world, take a human-centred and inclusive approach to technology governance.