Technology has been evolving at a rapid pace for years. But 2020 has brought about changes that we could never have imagined. The impacts of COVID-19 have touched every aspect of our lives, forcing us to rethink how we live and work.
In many ways, 2020 technology has responded rapidly. What may have at first seemed strange now is part of our daily lives. Some of the technological advances will remain long after COVID-19. Let’s look at some of the major ways that technology has evolved in 2020.
We all joined the occasional video call or used FaceTime, but 2020 made Zoom a household name. Everyone turned to video calls and conferencing to stay connected. Video calls became part of our daily lives with work, school, and loved ones.
COVID-19 forcing shutdowns in many areas. Companies had to rely on video conferencing to conduct business. From consultations to healthcare, we adapted our business models from face-to-face to video calls.
As our comfort with video calls grew, so did our sophistication. We learned to join breakout rooms, share presentations, and join group chats. Augmented reality became the backdrop so that instead of our living rooms, we could project our presence from a beach scene.
Restaurants and other delivery services quickly adopted “contactless delivery.” Delivery people could safely leave food or packages at our doorstep. Notifications from apps replaced relying on a doorbell.
Technology will take this one step further. Companies are turning to drones for delivery amid COVID-19 concerns and increased demand for deliveries. Drones could deliver everything from home essentials to health products.
And as people need to maintain distance at work, some tasks are too risky for humans. Robotics technology can enhance or replace these tasks that are too risky.
In healthcare, for example, service robots can perform crucial tasks. This includes disinfecting patient rooms and cleaning surfaces. Robots are also used to perform contact-less temperature checks in places like airports or other high-traffic areas.
There are many concerns among essential workers in factories and manufacturing. More attention has turned to the use of robotics and automation. They can keep workers socially distanced by supplementing or replacing certain tasks.
By mid-2020, a staggering 42% of the workforce in the United States was working from home. For many of these people, remote working was new. After settling into a new home office, employees had to quickly adapt and learn how to get their jobs done.
This was a huge adjustment in lifestyle for many people. Businesses had to provide the right tools for employees to collaborate. Meetings needed to be rethought as video conferences, and employers also needed to consider the social aspect of work.
Collaboration apps could allow seamless sharing of information. Remote teams turned to tools like Slack for communication. Apps like Trello or Asana could help with project management.
The need for remote collaboration extended beyond the workplace and into the classroom. Schools needed to figure out not only how to provide education but also how to support and engage with children.
Remote collaboration came in the form of live video interactions with the teacher. Children learn through educational apps, online homework assignments, and group presentations.
As an emerging technology over the past several years, artificial intelligence has been gaining a footing in many industries. COVID-19 has forced businesses to adjust to a remote workforce and potentially changes in availability. They found that they could make use of artificial intelligence to help serve their customers.
Chatbots could field incoming questions and help route issues to the right employee. AI has long been used for personalized marketing. As companies shift their messaging as a result of the pandemic, AI can track and predict user behavior changes.
Medical facilities also implemented chatbots. As offices became overwhelmed with phone calls from people, chatbots could ask patients questions about symptoms. Chatbots could screen patients and provide instructions for seeking treatment.
As doctors and scientists continue to examine the novel coronavirus, AI can take the data one step further. Modeling labs help scientists understand transmission. Scientists can also examine the effects of travel restrictions and social distancing.
Data scientists are looking at AI to help answer some of the biggest questions about COVID-19. They are looking to answer why the disease impacts people differently. AI can also help identify what characteristics these people have in common.
Remote work changed the way that many companies had to think about security. Employees may not have been accessing company information outside of the office before. Now, access could occur from offsite devices and, in some cases, personal devices.
Security leaders had to prepare themselves for these changes. This includes things like:
Because remote work is likely going to remain in many companies, even in a post-COVID world, IT professionals had to consider the long-term. This could include security-as-a-service for companies that are not able to manage growing IT needs internally.
Companies needed to update disaster recovery plans to include the previously unimaginable pandemic scenario. IT administrators had to assess increased risks, such as cyber vulnerabilities and backup systems. Changes in staff location or a reduction in staff also pose threats.
Cloud computing became vital as companies turned to a remote workforce. Those that already had a hosted environment or cloud storage were ahead of the game.
Other companies scrambled to make changes to support a disparate workforce. Those that were not there yet began to plan for future changes. Companies see the need to continue to support remote employees.
With the move to cloud solutions, accessibility was key to maintaining operations. Everything from critical documentation to company tools needed to be available to employees at all times.
Document storage became a focus. Paper files in cabinets at the office did no good with employees at home. Companies needed document management systems. These systems would store, organize, and retrieve documents from anywhere.
Some of the biggest technological advances of 2020 came from the battle against COVID-19 itself. Some of these advances will have far-reaching impacts and future applications.
Many people who became infected with COVID-19 found that the recovery was long. Symptoms could linger for months. It raises a lot of questions around continued shortness of breath, fatigue, or “brain fog.”
Remote Patient Monitoring emerged as a non-invasive way to track patient vital signs. Wearable devices can track temperature, heart rate, or oxygen levels. This information is then transmitted to medical professionals.
It is going to be crucial to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19. As hospitals continue to be full, remote patient monitoring replaces a follow-up visit. The data provides the medical community with valuable insights.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing usually follows. This allows local health departments to identify how many other people may have been infected. In areas with substantial community spread, contact tracers are dealing with large volumes of data.
Technology has ensured the security and confidentiality of the data. The next step is notifying potential contacts of the date of exposure. It also includes collecting data about any current symptoms the contact may have.
Automation speeds up this process of notifications. Contact tracing also helps local health officials understand the spread. Appropriate warnings and messages can then be provided to the community.
As vaccines become available, getting the vaccine administered quickly will require a lot of resources. Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccine candidates announced are likely to receive approval for emergency use.
If approved, vaccines will begin shipping in December. Technology can aid in planning the fastest and most efficient means of delivering the vaccine across the United States.
Pfizer’s vaccine must also be stored in ultracold conditions, below that of most other vaccines. To ensure vaccine potency, facilities must prepare to monitor the storage containers for the vaccine. Technology can provide continuous monitoring and alerts.
An entire global population awaits a COVID-19 vaccine. The ability to monitor the ongoing distribution and long-term effects will rely on technology. Facilities that administer the vaccine will need to be able to report on the number of doses and any adverse effects.
Compiling the data in real-time will allow scientists and the medical community to adapt if needed. Health departments can track decreases in community spread. This data can be compared to the percentage of a population that has been vaccinated with proper tracking.
While COVID-19 will not be around forever, some of the changes seen in 2020 technology are here to stay. We will continue to see a large and permanent remote workforce. These business models will need collaboration and business tools that they can access from anywhere.
If your business is looking for cloud computing, backups, storage, or security, NETdepot can help. Contact us today for more information about how NETdepot can help your business make that transition.