After Corona (Covid-19) there will rarely be anything as it was. The understanding of the fragility of our global economy, the huge digital divide, our ability to collaborate, and much more is changing right now faster than ever before. And there is no reason to go back.
We are experiencing an amazing transformation and shift, realizing what our various societies are capable of under pressure. What the most powerful people in the world failed to achieve in the past 10+ years, managed a 0.3 µ small virus — Global Digitization within 3 months.
Massive digitization amplification
The amplification in connectedness, however, is also exposing a widening gap between digitally empowered people and the still massive digital illiteracy. Digital Interaction is a skill. That skill is composed of fast cognitive recognition, heightened content differentiation, digital body language, multi-language communication, the ability to cut loose from old needs that every exchange needs to be physical, understanding the power of asynchronous communication, and much more. We learned to walk, read, write, speak, hear, and now we extend all these skills into the digital world that is no less real than our physical world. Once it is experienced over a timeframe of 6 months more people will want to keep and expand those powers than go back.
One of the big questions is arising: Will the digital literate look down on others and enjoy their added powers or will they help to elevate those who have a hard time expanding their capability of experiences through global digitization?
Profound changes in production
Another gap is widening to a degree that most people cannot even comprehend the consequences. Our global economy lost trillions of dollars almost overnight due to the lack of production continuation strategies. Companies with a very high degree of automation could continue to have their robots and autonomous machines run and produce, and even shift gear to produce what’s needed. Those doing pretty ok. Those that require armies of workers have all of a sudden multiple challenges all at the same time: Production if anything at all is only possible in a very limited capacity. Plus, the social liability of having to send people home by the thousands. And, opening doors for the competition to come in with more automated companies. On top of all the fully digital businesses rise to phenomenal heights in value and revenue. The consequences may be dramatic: In order to compete in future crises – no matter in what form or reason, Large manufacturers will need to substantially increase their degree of automation in production, digitization in processes, and world market interactions – not for profit improvements but sheer protection of production continuation AND to ensure product availability for our ever more complex society. Even political pressure is already on the horizon that business continuation plans and capabilities to maintain the product flow in the local society must be ensured. What was thought to be Artificial Intelligence, that takes away jobs just because we can, is now a very different reason. Some companies will not even survive this pandemic – but the next pandemic may increase the closing of businesses and jobs by order of magnitude. Once the pandemic is over this effort may actually just begin.
We have been working under huge pressure to modify our Deep innovation Design program so that a nine-month program can be run as a crash course in six weeks. In order to train as many scientists as possible to move from experimentation to a methodical ideation process we needed to move from in-person training to digital – but moreover from 25 people classrooms to online classrooms with some hundred attendees if necessary. Every top educator would say it is crazy and cannot work. But we don’t even have an option, other than making it work. Innovation is seen all over right now – with or without professional support. The degree of ingenuity hasn’t been that high for decades. New types of virus testers pop up in almost every industrialized nation. We see all kinds of innovative solutions, which only need a bit more coordination and information flow. And all this will not stop after the pandemic is over. Also here it will actually begin to fully unfold.
Will we go back to be dirty and sloppy after the pandemic is over? Sure, some will, but the majority most likely will keep the positive habit of more careful hygiene.
Keeping relationships online
Will we go back to always meet people face to face for everything we want to discuss. Of course not. We appreciate the learning that a quick video call is for both parties quicker and more efficient. For sure we will remain to be social and want to meet people in person – at least the first connection. But we don’t need to meet for every little detail and this has all been helped by global digitization.
Will we go back to shop for everything by going from shop to shop? Most certainly not. Of course, we will still go shopping, having the experience and the fun doing so – but the hugely increased percentage of shopping online compared to the past will not go back to “normal” because the majority has a whole new set of experience by now.
Will we go back to endless considerations, pilot projects, and eventually still not upgrade? Only the very weak companies will. Those who realized how much faster we are doing things right now will keep the pace – and if it is only to not let the competition take over. My old mantra: “Speed is more important than perfection” found its biggest proponent being a virus.
About ten years ago home offices have been seen as a large part of a companies way of workplaces. Why did it not work out? Nobody did actually try it for a more extended period of time. Now we do. We get quickly used to do it even full time for weeks. We chat regularly with the team, exchange notes via WhatsApp or email. Meetings are much shorter and also if they are still mega long – everybody can work while some others ramble on. The only short interruption: “can you still hear me”. :)
The list gets longer every day. Every week, new experiences carve out deepening neuro-pathways in our brain that make us learn without even knowing that we learn. And every adult between 30 and 50 learned faster than ever before. Not only about dealing with a virus but also ourselves our needs, and our capability to adapt.
What is your learning?
How do you see the post-corona future? What do you hope will change when we finally eradicated covid-19 or at least contained it relatively well? Do you think Global Digitization will stay? Please share your thoughts – so we all can learn from each other.