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In an already highly automated world, COVID-19 forced us to become even more dependent on technology as we adapted to conducting business, interacting with friends and family, scheduling appointments, and purchasing products and services remotely from our computers and phones.
As a result, the information technology (IT) industry has experienced significant change throughout the pandemic. When considering IT, some picture a company’s IT department or a professional who they can call when experiencing technical difficulties — but it’s so much more than that. IT refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the internet or the people that work with these technologies. As we continue to evolve as a society from the effects of the pandemic, here are four ways it has changed IT forever.
Especially since the rise of social media and email in the early 2000s, computers, mobile phone and tablets have been used to communicate with others in addition to searching and storing information. However, the social distancing mandates of the pandemic forced us to rely on technology as a communication channel now more than ever.
As employees pivoted to working from home, businesses had to utilize video conferencing tools, virtual document storage platforms and online calendars, accelerating the popularity and development of platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Additionally, many companies adjusted their approach to customer service as well.
According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives in October 2020, companies accelerated the digitization of customer and supply chain interactions as well as internal operations by three to four years. Finally, instead of spending time with loved ones in person, we’ve relied on technology to connect with friends and family. Overall, IT’s evolution as a critical communication channel is likely to continue well beyond the pandemic.
With stores closed or at a limited capacity across the country throughout the pandemic, consumers relied on the internet to order products and services. As mentioned, businesses have also adjusted to working completely or partially remote. Consequently, the security of computers and other technologies must be updated in order to ensure safe online spending platforms.
Before the pandemic, approximately 20% of cyberattacks used previously unseen malware or methods. During the pandemic, this statistic grew to 35%. Because of this, business leaders must ensure they employ IT professionals who prioritize technological security. In order to assist those working remotely, Deloitte recommends the following best practices: ensure proper antivirus protection, increase cybersecurity and phishing awareness, implement home security networks, use a VPN, identify weak spots, frequently review risks, and renew business continuity and crisis plans.
INNOVATION IN DIGITALIZATION
In order to successfully navigate the restrictions imposed over the past year, companies employed new innovations and concepts. Grocery stores pivoted to curbside pick-up and online delivery, health providers implemented telehealth protocols, business professionals hosted presentations virtually instead of flying across the country. Organizations that welcomed digital technologies during the pandemic were not just able to survive, some even thrived.
In the IT industry and departments, successful companies embraced digital innovations including the creation of remote onboarding processes and contactless entry systems as well as shifting workloads to the cloud and automating day-to-day tasks using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). Changes like these allowed employees to access company documents and platforms from almost any location while limiting disruptions and maintenance.
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY
While many organizations will return to in-person services as the vaccine becomes readily available, others will continue to work remotely or maintain the technological changes made during the pandemic. As a result, digitally savvy countries and companies with greater access to technology will thrive, and we will see technology become a necessity, similar to food and shelter.
For instance, the pandemic proved that access to the internet for those in school is essential. Additionally, in order to receive food during the pandemic, many people had to order food online or through the phone, call someone for help, or search the internet for open grocery stores and restaurants. Finally, many businesses would have failed to survive during the pandemic without the technologies available to them. The pandemic proved that access to technology is imperative for not just business, but in many cases, survival.
As a society that thrives on human-to-human interactions, the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for many reasons. However, IT helped us connect with loved ones, access necessities and weather the storm. In fact, Spiceworks Ziff Davis reports that COVID-19 was a catalyst for business transformation with 76% of businesses surveyed in its State of IT 2021 report planning to implement long-term IT changes.
While IT professionals are just one aspect of IT’s broad scope, these individuals were crucial in helping companies prevail in the midst of uncertainty. Prior to the pandemic, most IT professionals had remote capabilities, but many companies relied heavily on in-person assistance. As the effects of the pandemic ensued and social distancing became the norm, businesses needed IT professionals who could problem solve remotely — in many cases, the IT industry delivered.