Despite its significant challenges, 2020 has been a monumental year for IT and technology in businesses across many industries. Out of necessity, the world has undergone rapid adoption of remote working solutions, but we’ve also seen technology utilised in more innovative, niche ways.
In the hospitality and retail industries, self-service has been on the rise. Customers are encouraged to user self-scanners and check-in without human interaction, while employees shift to more warehouse-focused roles to keep up with demand fluctuation. Meanwhile, other industries are trending towards full automation. In some hotels, staff have been replaced by room service robots, while factory and online customer service workers have been substituted for machines and AI bots. Though these highly impactful changes were in progress prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the pandemic has spurred rapid acceleration.
As the pandemic has progressed, businesses have also turned to offering virtual experiences in order to continue operations. Concerts, tradeshows and sporting events continue to be hosted successfully online. Estate agents are providing fully virtual viewings.
There has also been a huge and natural adoption of cloud computing tools across businesses of all shapes and sizes. As a software provider, Microsoft leaned into this new market and has achieved staggering success, with its Teams platform reaching 4.1 billion meeting minutes in a single day. Globally, 85% of companies have accelerated their use of collaboration technology this year, with 35% claiming digitisation of their supply chain.
This rapid evolution of technology has undoubtedly saved companies and lives, but challenges have been met along the way. Companies have been forced to adapt their security and IT practices quickly which, for large enterprises, has lead to many complications and disasters. A Nintendo breach earlier this year saw 300,000 user accounts compromised. Twitter’s spearphishing attack saw cyberattackers posting as some of the most influential people in the world. EasyJet reported the breach of 9 million data records, including 2,200 credit card entries. Marriott saw 5.2 million hotel guests impacted after the hack of two employee accounts.
These breaches have resulted in a tough year for consumer trust, but the world has learned some important lessons about security. As we move into 2021, businesses will be more aware of cybersecurity than ever, regardless of their industry, size or nature.
Crucially, organisations should be aware that end-user training on cloud technology and security is vital to keep businesses protected. It is definitely harder to educate employees as we all work from home, but organisations should rise to that challenge and embrace the remote working era. Many industries have thrived working remotely despite thinking it impossible before, and many benefits have been realised.
AI and automation, too, have accelerated in popularity and adoption. The widespread use of robotic and machine learning technology has enabled rapid advancements and significant cost savings. Adoption and benefits will continue long after the pandemic subsides, so businesses, employees, and governments should embrace and adapt to these modern working conditions and methods.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, organisations should use Covid-19 as a reminder that disasters do happen and should be planned for. Regardless of size, businesses should have specific procedures in place to weather unexpected circumstances.
Keeping up with the latest technological trends is an important part of this. Companies who test and implement modern solutions on a regular basis will naturally run into fewer risks when forced to roll them out on a mass scale. Being proactive with technology almost always leads to benefits in the long term.