By Jessica Groopman, Jeremiah Owyang, and Jaimy Szymanski
Applying Covid 19 urgencies to Kaleido Insights’ Five Research Themes.
Kaleido Insights has recently published our five technology-focused research themes, which have wide implications for many areas of society. This research makes deep dives into specific challenges facing civilization as we have come to know it and as it is rapidly changing. Additionally, these themes were designed to be both timely, but also to have longevity. To demonstrate the relevancy of these five research themes to our current challenges, we’ve identified how each theme is highlighting key societal changes brought about by the pandemic.
1) Digital Trust: How is technology eroding or enhancing our trust among institutions, companies, and among citizens in society?
Biometrics are becoming part of our future identity and our ability to move around the world and online. Our future digital identity may display our health status: immune, vaccinated, at risk, or infected by current or future diseases. Privacy technologies and questions of data distribution come to the forefront.
As citizens are bombarded with information, they are increasingly questioning the level of truthfulness of what they are being told. Confusion is rife as some of what they are hearing is vetted, some researched, some misinformed, and some intentionally malicious. Social networks, as information brokers, have had no choice but to step up as arbiters of quality — a big change from their prior stance of regarding themselves as neutral information platforms.
Society will increasingly debate the ethical implications of weighing human employee value vs. the demand for virus-proof automation and robotics. Companies will be further pressured to take a stance on the balance they strike in utilizing automation to augment (or, replace) the workforce of the future. A conundrum is at hand – do government and businesses bring back workers to drive down unemployment and boost the economy, or shift towards automation to drive internal efficiencies and boost corporate revenues?
Technology will change the way we interact with each other. As humanity resurfaces from quarantine, public health will emerge as a mainstream strategy and will interact socially, economically, and technologically. New interfaces will be adopted such as: robotics, AR, touchless payment, micro-fulfilment, video, machine learning and teleservices.
A broader set of consumers will adopt tech-enabled wellness solutions from health apps, mindfulness apps, VR meditations, digitized fitness hardware and software, and diet-focused food delivery services. These safer and lower cost alternatives build loyal followings that will be sustained in a post-quarantine world. Some insured will become covered under sickness prevention in healthcare programs.
The boom in telehealth will spread both wide and deep, shifting cost structures and widening access to more diverse forms of healthcare and wellness. From yoga to dieticians, from chronic illness experts to talk therapy, the digitization of healthcare will operate in new channels and ecosystem partnerships. A majority of interactions with healthcare interactions will be digital-first.
Consumers may become familiar with several new “safety and sanitization” technology, including interfaces such as thermometers or thermal cameras in order to enter a store, or contactless kiosks to interact with service representatives. Home owners, office managers, and transportation administrators will look to new technologies to detect, manage, and sanitize spaces with frequency. These technologies may include UV cleaning devices, automated aerosol sprays, or wandering sanitization robotics that use chemicals or UV to sanitize the world.
Increased monitoring of human movement and biometrics will become the norm. Sensors such as GPS on devices, mandatory contact tracing apps, machine learning of video feeds, and automated drones will become commonplace to track the movement of humans.Technology will strive to ensure social distancing in public and workplace areas using cameras, machine learning, thermal devices, and more.
Supply chains of raw materials and finished goods will require greater flexibility as the world shifts shipping routes and final consumption locations. Existing 5G and IoT opportunities, such as factory automation, digital twins, “pop-up” or “roaming” retail, will be increasingly oriented around resilience. Sensors, networking, edge, and cloud supported decentralized networks, will make scaling up or down operations easier and eliminate redundancy.
The impacts of social distancing will have reverberations for years to come, as human behaviors shift permanently to less travel and lower levels of congestion within cities. This trend will lend itself to the proliferation of shared autonomous vehicles to fulfill various needs, from on-the-go medical care to roaming retail. 5G development and implementation will speed up to enable these things to happen. Less vehicle and public transit emissions will continue to result in positive environmental impacts.
The world’s grandest experiment in pushing the pause button will prompt a broad re-evaluation of just how critical several carbon-heavy activities are (business travel, large commercial real-estate expansion, mass commutes). Several environmentally “friendlier” technological solutions (video conferencing, AR, VR, robotic micro-fulfilment, 3-D printing) may displace them.
The earth has quickly experienced the effects of social distancing, one of which is an 8% drop in carbon emissions (according to the New York Times). Such fresh statistics can be used to analyze the impacts of climate change and plot climate reversal. Rich data garnered from satellites, air quality evaluations, sensors, and other devices will enable sustainability decisions for the next several decades.
Concerns about automation-enabled job displacement have collided with sudden mass unemployment and economic desperation. Future employment strategies will require balancing automation deployment with workers’ rights and the needs for safety and service continuity. Gig worker movements may use familiar mobile app technologies to organize and further extend the “sharing economy” infrastructure toward more distributed mutual aid services.
Companies will continue to plan for many employees to have a hybrid work experience (home and work). Strategies may include smaller offices in many more cities combined with working from home. Companies will make big investments in networking technology, security, data storage, and collaboration software. Virtual and augmented reality technologies will be implemented en masse to fill connection and innovation gaps, as well as build a strong remote work culture.
Following an adaptation to less physical work within facilities, fields, and onsite, corporations in the areas of construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail will continue to increase their reliance on so-called Industrial IoT technologies. Such technologies will be accelerated to increase resilience and boost supply chain efficiencies. They will include increased sensors to track valuable equipment and tools remotely, AR- and VR-powered remote monitoring and collaboration methodologies, drones, and computer-vision enabled cameras to monitor conditions.
Use these research themes to plot how your company will be impacted
Across all five of these research themes, COVID-19 has caused significant impacts to these overarching trends. In many cases, by exposing weaknesses and accelerating issues, the pandemic has highlighted problems that were already plaguing various business sectors. Decision makers have been forced to come together to determine rapid solutions. All business leaders should make use of these five themes, apply them to their businesses, and make frequent adjustments to their actions as the world continues to change around them at a rapid pace.