The first year of the new decade proved to be far more turbulent than anyone could have reasonably predicted. Between the coronavirus pandemic that swept the world and the divisive political movements that made their mark, people across the globe experienced completely unprecedented shifts in their everyday lives.
In turn, the businesses that cater to the needs of the people have had to adapt to these strange circumstances. In the face of such monumental change, technology has been put to good use to help companies overcome new obstacles. And, seeing as Covid-19 and the desire for social change won’t be going anywhere for a while, it’s safe to say that the trends we saw last year will stay with us for some time.
From social media to sustainability initiatives, here’s how technology is changing the game for businesses the world over.
Safeguarding social media
Social media is a pretty remarkable thing, allowing people from all over the world to connect, share, and debate. However, there is a dark side to social media, too, as people use the relative anonymity they enjoy online to abuse others and encourage politically motivated attacks.
Tech blogger, Antoine Bechara says, “for many years, social media companies did relatively little to actively combat this scourge of toxic behaviour – that is, until recently. At the start of 2021, when the erstwhile president of the United States was banned from Twitter for inciting violence, among other things, it became clear that the landscape was changing.”
Now, many large companies are doing what they can to keep abusive behaviour in check and safeguard their users, primarily using artificial intelligence.
Last year, huge swathes of workers were suddenly forced to do their jobs from makeshift at-home offices. At the same time, teleconferencing tools and business communication platforms went from playing an ad-hoc role to an absolutely crucial part in the smooth-running of countless companies.
After over a year of remote working, people now know that it really is feasible. In addition, research has shown that more than 20% of the workforce could work from home up to five days a week as effectively as they could from the office. Looking ahead, it is likely we will see new and improved technology applications, for example artificial intelligence and virtual reality, that will make working from home even more efficient.
Speaking of efficiency, automation has become much more common in a whole range of different industries, as companies look to make better use of their time and simplify workflows. In the legal sector for example, law firm owner Marc J Shuman comments that technology advancement in AI means that legal documents can be scanned over instantaneously, saving time and removing human error.
Using software that can digitise common processes, including scheduling, pricing, and inventory management, businesses can cut out time-consuming manual practices. This means that employees will gain more time to do the things that machines can’t, like effective customer relationships management and collaborative strategising.
Ultimately, at a time when workforces are stretched due to economic hardships, the ability to boost productivity through technology could prove to be invaluable.
In recent years, concerns about climate change have become particularly pronounced, as we edge closer to key deadlines for turning things around. As such, a commitment to combating climate change has become much more of a priority for greater numbers of people, with almost half (47%) of consumers saying they would prefer to shop with brands that are eco-friendly.
To stay in line with this shift in consumer consciousness, companies have been making use of technologies that lessen their impact on the environment. Some are, for example, investing in electric vehicles for their delivery fleets, while others are building their business models entirely on environmental principles. Apps that distribute excess food and help to mitigate food waste are a prime example.
New applications of 5G
5G isn’t just the latest in smartphone technology. It also really useful for businesses looking to connect more widely and at a greater speed, both with their consumers and any smart devices they might rely on for their day-to-day operations.
Around 100 times faster than 4G mobile networks, 5G is capable of transmitting data impressively quickly to large virtual networks, and with little to no latency. It is, therefore, perfect for supporting remote teams or increasing the efficiency of complex manufacturing operations.