If we were asked to use one word to describe the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d actually refuse to go through with it because we need at least two: unpredictability and uncertainty. Amidst all the commotion that has taken over our lives the past couple of months the only thing we can be sure of is that we can’t be sure about anything. The virus has reshaped not only the way we live but the perception of what a normal life is and what we can expect from it. What we’ll try to do today, is speculate on the future of tech.
How has the virus affected the tech industry and how will things play out going forward? Let’s investigate.
Contactless Payments Will Be The Norm
Things were headed that way anyway, but the virus seems to be fast-tracking the process. Contactless, online payment percentages have been on the rise for a few years now. The better the tech, the higher the adoption rates. This current state of affairs though is adding more fuel to the contactless fire. What used to be an increase based on comfort and convenience, is now turning into an increase based on health and necessity. Governments in countries like Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Uganda are already increasing their contactless payment limits as well as card networks in Canada.
Governments and companies want to encourage the use of contactless payments, seeing it as a natural preventive measure in stopping the spread of the virus. A good example is the one of UnionPay International, doing everything in their power to increase contactless payments around the world. As stated in their official statement, UnionPay has partnered with Kazakhstan’s Halyk Savings Bank, distributing more than 100,000 contactless payment enabled cards throughout the country.
It’s not a far-fetched assumption to think that going contactless is not merely a response towards the virus, but a reality that will remain the same if and when this is a situation of the past. Exchanging banknotes was going out of fashion because it was outdated, slow, risky and inconvenient. The virus just added another reason to that list: public health and safety.
Supply Chains Will Need a Digital Overhaul
Supply chains around the globe will never be the same. If the pandemic has taught businesses anything, is that you can’t predict the future, but you better be prepared for it. The recent IBM report, “COVID-19 and shattered supply chains” provides an excellent insight into the reassessment and rebuilding of supply chains, based on the flexibility afforded by AI technology. As the report clearly states, supply chains need to get smarter:
“Systems based on exponential technologies can help organizations build smarter supply chains and reduce vulnerabilities in global pandemics—or other unforeseen circumstances. Smarter supply chains that leverage the power of AI and other emerging technologies can help companies maintain business continuity amid disruption and uncertainty.”
To enforce this way of thinking comes “The B2B Payments: COVID-19 Impact Report”, a collaboration between PYMNTS and American Express. The report clearly identifies technology to be the pillar companies should be their chains around going forward. What used to be considered a luxury is not becoming a necessity.
“Many logistics businesses regarded digital tools like software enabling electronic signatures or shipment location tracking as unnecessary expenses prior to the emergence of social distancing guidelines. The COVID-19 pandemic is now prompting renewed interest and accelerated uptake.”
Wearables Will Infiltrate Our Lives
We’ve been aware of wearable technology for quite some time now. From FitBit watches to the Apple watch, we’ve all marvelled at the pros of wearable and tech and have objected to the cons. What are the cons you might ask? The invasion of our privacy and the unwilling sharing of personal data with big tech companies. Many of us could have never imagined a scenario where wearing a tracking device would be a universal necessity. Our consent and free will has always been the protective layer between companies and our privacy.
Can you see where this is going? Avoiding future COVID-like outbreaks and protecting health globally might just be the scenario that gets everyone to wear tech that can track, identify and protect against deadly viruses. The future of COVID-19 testing could be in wearables and this might just be the new order of things. Here’s a quote from Shelten Yuen, Vice President, Research at Fitbit:
“In the future, I believe that wearable technology will play a significant role in forestalling the spread of infectious diseases similar to COVID-19… The issue is one of scale: It is impossible for local clinics, airports and public health agencies to quickly screen every person for infection.”
Predicting the future is a futile endeavour and COVID-19 is a living proof of that. What we have attempted to do is make an educated guess on the future of technology based on the facts we have today. How much of this will turn out to be true remains to be seen but we can reassure you, we will be here to investigate, analyze and discuss it.