Coronavirus has brought the future forward by accelerating the uptake of digital technologies

22 May 2020

Coronavirus has brought the future forward by accelerating the uptake of digital technologies

Lockdown provided an instant boost to digital technologies and is focusing minds across the DACH region on new tech opportunities.

The coronavirus pandemic will leave a legacy for the tech sector as surely as it has made a profound impact in the public health sphere.

As lockdown was imposed across the German-speaking markets of Europe, offices went dark and businesses scrambled to make working from home (WFH) a viable reality for the workforce. At the heart of this was an unprecedented surge in usage of video conferencing and associated technologies driven by the need for teams to continue working together effectively for the good of organisations and their clients.

Research from App Annie, a global provider of mobile market data, found that in Germany during the week beginning 15 March 2020 downloads of the video conferencing app Zoom Cloud Meetings reached 17 times the average weekly level of Q4 2019. Other professional video conferencing platforms such as Google Meets and Microsoft Teams also experienced a major spike in downloads in the DACH region, as did the consumer-focused video chat app Houseparty.

Enforced staying at home has brought about swift and sweeping transformation. Behavioural changes that otherwise would have taken years to realise were condensed into a few weeks.

A survey conducted in March by digital association Bitkom found that two-thirds of Germans regard digital technologies as helpful in the fight against coronavirus and that almost one in every five workers are working from a home office for the first time as a direct result of the pandemic.

Cybersecurity challenges and the switch to virtual events

The rise of WFH has pushed cybersecurity further to the fore, with issues such as unwanted ‘Zoombombing’ intrusions making headlines and causing concern. Moreover, a report on the privacy policies of video conferencing services by Vienna-based NYOB, a non-profit organisation that campaigns for digital rights and data security concluded that providers need to work on meeting their information obligations under GDPR.

Numerous major live events have of course been cancelled or restructured due to the pandemic, among them the giant 2020 IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin which last year drew over 238,000 visitors. Plans are afoot to run a virtual version of the fair in September.

A big question for the industry is, how many events will return to a live format once restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted and how many will stick with the switch to virtual? Or indeed, whether many will go for a halfway house, adding a greater proportion of virtual content to the in-person elements of an event? Clearly, huge opportunities exist to develop digital solutions that bring people together or showcase products to maximum advantage.

Growth of RPA, the cloud and opportunities to collaborate

Given the tougher economic climate caused by the coronavirus crisis, many companies are under significant pressure to cut costs and boost efficiency. This situation will drive the growth of robotic process automation (RPA) software in replacing repetitive manual tasks previously carried out by human workers, for example in data entry, invoice processing, payroll and sales order fulfilment.

Increasing use of RPA and other AI technologies will create opportunities across the DACH region for developers/solutions architects with expertise in the field. At a strategic level, CIOs will have to strike a balance between saving costs and investing in secure digital solutions to achieve future growth.

The move to cloud computing is set to continue as businesses aim to become more agile and scalable. Many tech companies stand to benefit from the restructuring and business transformation initiatives of large corporate customers.

Additionally, there’s an awareness that building relationships with European tech start-ups may be a smart move for certain organisations. A recent Handelsblatt piece argued that it’s now more important than ever for industry in the DACH region to heighten cooperation with start-ups. In this vein, March 2020 saw the launch of a new German-based platform Startups Against Corona designed to help companies find start-up solutions for problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond corona, the future will be ever more digital. If you’d like to discuss your career in technology or your organisation’s leadership requirements with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.