A recent survey found that the pandemic has forced the increased adoption of new technologies in 48% of businesses; the digitisation of business functions such as supply chains have been brought forward by three to four years; and 54% of respondents to a survey stated that they believe that an increased migration of assets to the cloud will remain post-pandemic. The picture is clear: the pandemic has catalysed massive technological change. But which of these tech trends are here to stay?The pandemic highlighted the logistical problems encountered in the ‘last mile’ – the selection, packing, and delivery stages. With supermarkets investing in robotics technology, deliveries are set to become slicker.
Take a look at food delivery services. Supermarkets and delivery apps alike have done well out of the pandemic. Sales at the supermarket chain Iceland increased by 22% during the pandemic. Deliveroo, who were loss-making pre-COVID-19, saw the pandemic boost them to profitability; notably, the platform’s delivery of supermarket food now accounts for 10% of their revenue. How have supermarkets responded to the increased demand? Investment in robotics, with Ocado recently purchasing a company that makes robotic sorting systems. The pandemic highlighted the logistical problems encountered in the ‘last mile’ – the selection, packing, and delivery stages – also the stage most difficult to make profitable. With firms investing in robotics technology, supermarket deliveries are set to become significantly slicker.
Next up, banking. In the United States, chip and pin, cheques, and visits to brick-and-mortar banks still dominate retail banking. However, by May 2020, a mere few months into the pandemic, more than 45% of Americans had changed the way they communicated with their bank. Digital cheque deposits have increased by 35%, there has been a more than a 50% increase in online transactions, and there has been a massive spike in sign-ups for digital banking. This is mirrored in Europe, where the pandemic caused a 72% increase in the use of fintech apps and online banking. How will banking respond? Rapid digitisation.
Technological advancement encouraged by the pandemic could mean that facial recognition technology will become more widely used in the future as a contactless means to check someone’s identity.
The examples of food delivery services and banking show how rapidly businesses can and will adopt new technologies to meet the changed circumstances of their consumers during the pandemic. However, on the flipside, the pandemic has itself stimulated the creation of new technology. The adoption of masks made a previously simple task almost impossible: opening your phone. To solve this problem, businesses have updated the algorithm of their facial recognition technology, successfully creating systems that are better able to function when presented with face coverings. This technological advancement could mean that facial recognition technology will become more widely used in the future as a contactless means to check someone’s identity, be it to enter a secure building or grant mass entry to venues such as sports stadiums.
Be it faster food delivery, easier card payments, or enhanced AI: the technological advancement stimulated by the pandemic could be the key to business’ ability to recover from it.