COVID-19 and the fourth industrial revolution

Grayce Analyst, Ross Cusdin shares his take on digital innovation during and beyond COVID-19.

As part of Grayce's Digital Community of Practice, I wrote a blog earlier this year year talking about how recent waves of digital innovation have put us right on the cusp of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Now, a mere quarter later, who could have predicted that a global pandemic, and the unprecedented necessity of the digital it has wrought, may have just dragged us by the bootstraps into that ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Certainly, it feels like the foundations of our working life have shifted, permanently, and we have awoken this spring to find ourselves working not in the office but in the cloud. Indisputably these are hard and uncertain times, but never have we had to ask so much of our technology and never, in return, has our technology so empowered our social and working lives.

Indeed, COVID-19 could permanently shift our patterns of work as the mass remote working mandate may prove to be a work and social experiment that few companies would have ever undertaken on such a scale. The burden of the working world has been placed upon the back of Microsoft Teams, of Slack, of Zoom and of Cisco Webex, those who are carrying us into the semblances of a new 'normality' as we are learning that there is an alternative way to do business and that it can have a positive impact on our productivity.

While businesses around the world go all-out to support a workforce that is suddenly fully remote, leaders in the digital industry are coming together to alleviate the COVID-19 crisis in multiple ways, including developing products to directly combat the virus, tracking and forecasting its spread and securing hospitals from cyberattacks. As a sector, much like society and the global community at large, the digital industry has proven resilient and the WHO has received overwhelming pro-bono support from tech companies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Grayce Analysts, we are going to have to call upon one of our most sought after and applauded core competencies as we look to move forward with both our current and future clients: adaptability. In response to the digital industry’s likely permanent shifts, prepare to see a greater demand for data analysts, a greater demand for digital literacy, for tech skills to fill tech roles, for those who can be virtually and effectively collaborative, and for those who can bring innovation as organisations will look for continued support through the COVID-19 after-effects.

No doubt, the stability of the economy in the years to come is under threat and talks of another economic recession are very real. But, in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, it is the digital industry’s continued versatility and innovation that has provided the working world with the thread that may just guide us out from this labyrinth.

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