We are experiencing an event on the world stage none of us saw coming in their lifetime. In only a matter of months, this coronavirus pandemic has altered the daily lives of people around the world. While the world will recover through the peak period a new normal would have been defined. Buzzwords like “Work from Home”, “Virtual Conferences, events”, “Online Classrooms” which seemed a privilege for a certain group of people have become part and parcel of everyday life across the globe. This paper discusses this new world order, our readiness to adopt it as well as potential new opportunities
New World Order: A Great technological Equalizer
Technology being a great equalizer has been a topic for discussion for the last few years. While being available easily (e.g. Smart devices, Internet, IOT devices) still it was not effectively used. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology not just at organizations, personal level but also across various other institutions like schools, collages. The internet traffic has gone up by 70%+, Social video conferencing applications, collaborative platforms have seen 200%+ more sessions compared to March 2020 figures. At a workplace where people who were unfamiliar with technology had to adopt this change to keep going. There have been industry reports that productivity has improved by 20-25% .
New World order: Work from home - Work Life Balance?
An average Indian working in a metro spends around an average 100-120 minute a day travelling through the rush hour traffic and an average American 100 minutes. Working from home came as an initial boon especially for IT and IT enabled organizations, that eliminated the time wasted travelling, but as more time passed in lockdown trends are emerging that average time spent on the job has increased by 2-3 hours. This is a trend underlined by Data presented by NordVPN and Bloomberg.
The work from home (WFH) due to this pandemic is different than other days with every family member including kids at home. There are at least 3 factors which impact WFH are Kids at home, privacy and space. The closure of schools and distance learning has forced working parents to take an additional job of full time teacher to help learn and complete assignments. Space and privacy: Not everyone who is working from home is equipped with a home office and they could be working from bedroom, shared spaces with family, roommates. There will be a lot of distractions in these kinds of setup, even security concerns. The organizations really need to work with employees to help them balance time well spent on work and personal life.
The Pandemic has opened a series of new opportunities, a few of them listed below. Some of these are about acceleration of existing digital programs, some are about new ways of working and some are game changing and fundamentally asking to step change
Digital Transformation Acceleration
Digital Transformation has been a leading strategic agenda in the books of CXOs, In-fact most of the organizations have been reporting how they have embraced the latest and greatest technology, cloud computing and mobility. Some of the organization have been leading this journey and others catching up with the pace. This pandemic has done a couple of things to Digital transformation first it stress-tested the current implementations as more consumers, employees started adopting it. This validated the nonfunctional as well as user experience related requirements.
The second thing happened the organizations understood the sense of importance and urgency in accelerating their digital programs. What was resisted for a long time has now become core to survival and innovation. Suddenly the organizations have become nimbler, decisions are being taken with a pace which was not seen before. Given the pace of change and adoption it is highly unlikely that the organizations will try to return to pre-COVID BAU but will continue with the New Ways of Working (NWOW) more digitally, more distributed and more remotely..
More offshore work
With the adoption of agile over waterfall, the offshore driven model was being questioned about its compatibility as agile strongly focused on teamwork. In-sourcing, colocation were the key strategies being discussed in the agile world. While distributed agile did find its feet and is growing there were still skepticism about how it will work remotely. With this pandemic where everyone is working from home/remote locations (except few countries), the case of working in distributed agile has just been proven. Multiple digital channels are available to collaborate and with countries strengthening their core infrastructure backbone around connectivity, bandwidth, more and more work can be executed from offshore locations. Countries like India will have a huge advantage in this time with availability of the right talent.
Revolutionize Education and Online Content creation
There is no precedent in terms of the schools being closed for so long across the globe. There have been instances where school districts have been closed due to a natural disaster for a region but global closure like this has been first of a kind. Availability of the smart devices, laptops (either as a private device or provided by school) has enabled online education but what is missing is the content. Most of the schools are sending scanned documents of the workbooks to be downloaded and worked on. There is a serious need to create a lot of content for the education industry for effective education. Also, it’s not just about having a video or recorded class teacher session but the content created needs to be intelligent, interactive and intuitive to keep the kids busy just like in the classroom and keep their enthusiasm going.
The key challenge in the new scheme of things for schools will be to get students on the same level playing field. Some of the students will have an advantage over others, it will be interesting to see how the education SMEs fill up this gap.
While the news is filled with a dark side of COVID, but there is a better world waiting on the other side. The bottom line is the world might never return to the pre-COVID business as usual, the new world order is upon us and we all better adopt and learn to live with new realities and better prospects.
Vice President - Capgemini North America
Ajay Walgude, a Mechanical Engineer by education, a Software Tester by profession, is an avid traveler, a photographer, a poet, and a futurist.
He is a great fan of crowdsourcing & funding and has sponsored more than 50 projects across various crowd-funding platforms. He believes in enabling the young generation for the future with the help of technological solutions; he has built a crowdsourcing app called “In-Roads” to measure bumps on the streets with an objective to improve the travel experience. He has recently launched an initiative called “Turiya Labs” aimed to set up IoT (Internet of Things) Labs across India to educate kids from middle school and make them ready for the future.
With a career spanning over 25 years from a Boiler designer, Software tester, Solutions architect to Global Leader, he has traveled across the globe and worked in 4 continents. Personally, he believes in the Erich von Däniken’s theory of “God was an Astronaut” and traveled extensively to study temple architectures across continents. He has even published a book on the subject and contributed to several though-provoking articles in many Newspapers in India from time to time. Ajay is a thorough Indian, born and raised in Pune, India, and now resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States.