Transformation about People, not Technology
17th June 2020
This is the second in a four-parter where we reflect on the current and future adaptations required in the new normal or “next normal” widely predicted in the aftermath of the once-in-a-generation coronavirus pandemic.
Working from home has been one of the biggest changes during the lockdowns imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus. Some companies now plan to make this a long-term arrangement, even after the pandemic abates.
While technologies such as videoconferencing and cloud collaboration tools have made it possible to keep in touch with colleagues, they have also added new problems.
Many are finding that they are working longer than before, with calendars stuffed with meetings all day. Some are finding mental stress a real and worrying issue as they cannot easily switch off from work while at home.
Human Solution Key
To be sure, technology has enabled life and work to carry on in some form in the past few months. However, what is also important to remember is the human factor behind some of these practices.
Consider this entire exercise to keep a safe distance and reduce close physical contact. Without buy-in from people, it is hard for technology alone to overcome the issue.
Putting on a mask when going out, keeping a distance in a queue and washing hands frequently are still some of the most important practices needed today, as cities open up warily. They are going to be the new normal, as the months roll on while we search for a vaccine.
In finding a way to mitigate or live with the coronavirus, it is important to not forget that a human solution, not just a technological one, is the desired outcome.
Indeed, this ongoing crisis has changed the way many think of societal norms, especially how the most vulnerable are protected during this difficult time.
Though the cloud has enabled services such as food and goods delivery to be carried out on a large scale, there is still a need for humans to do that delivery. Yes, drones in the future may fill that role, but someone still has to ensure that the delivery is fulfilled.
Contactless payment reduces contact with customers but often, they still have to man the store. E-commerce solutions can help reduce traffic at a retail store, but someone still has to stock up a warehouse with goods.
What can we do to better protect these frontline essential workers with technologies?
Change Must Be Meaningful
The pandemic has made one thing clear – it is now even more important for digital transformation to find a solution for real problems that affect a large part of society, not just to optimise costs and improve revenue.
In many ways, this is reshaping how our customers will view a changed world after the pandemic. Going forward, NEC has to make use of all our global domain expertise and research strengths to bring about meaningful change for customers.
This may have been true before the pandemic but the pressing issues that the crisis has presented means that there has to be a renewed focus on customers. This is about anticipating their needs in advance.
Around the world, NEC’s biometric AI technology has helped to deliver security to large venues such as stadiums. Our biometrics know-how now promises to enable new ways to travel, when that becomes possible again in the future.
Frictionless travel can be achieved with NEC
A frictionless travel experience at the airport, for example, will not only make operations more efficient and affordable, but also improve safety for travellers, airport staff and border control officers.
If a system enables an enrolled traveller to be recognised while passing through the various checkpoints at an airport, then the physical interaction is reduced. This reduces the risk of infection while also providing convenience for the traveller.
This is just one way that NEC can bring technology into play, while also focusing on the human behaviour that it impacts. And this has to be the new normal.
Pictures from Pixabay (Silvia Costin Iancu, Jagrit Parajuli & Photo Mix).
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