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How Coronavirus Will Change The World Permanently: Tech’s Tipping Point

    Woman in a yellow sweater and brown coat wearing face mask during the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic.

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    Our society and businesses are on a path of almost unstoppable change in many technological areas. Artificial intelligence, automation, clean energy and virtual learning. Just to name a few. But the the lockdown and social distancing from the novel coronavirus will change the world permanently and sharply accelerate their adoption.

    There are many high tech innovations that have been slowly making their way into more mainstream use. They were poised to permanently change how we live our lives in the future. Many have a remote component to them. So, the lockdown and social distancing from the novel coronavirus is going to give these technologies a giant leap forward in their adoption.

    The Tipping Point Of Technology Adoption And Virus Pandemics

    Just like viruses, new ideas and technologies tend to spread exponentially. They start slowly through a small number of people first. But then some of them gain critical mass and are then unstoppable.

    The diffusion of innovations theory explains how new trends get adopted successively by different groups of people. Starting first with innovators (2.5%) and early adopters (13.5%). And then moving through an early majority (34%), a late majority (34%), late adopters (13.5%) and finally laggards (2.5%).

    If something crosses the 16% adoption mark, the “tipping point,” it has a higher chance of sustained adoption beyond that. But getting through resistant early adopters is where many ideas struggle. And that’s how the coronavirus lockdown will change the world of technology in many areas.

    Social distancing has forced a significant group of people who would normally be in the late majority/adopter groups into much earlier use of these technologies.

    5 Things Coronavirus Will Change In Our Lives Sooner Than Anticipated

    Here are five key technological areas in the way we will live our future lives that will owe their more rapid adoption to the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic.

    1. How Coronavirus Will Change Our Education System

    Child attending an online learning class at home to show how future education will change after coronavirus.

    With the lockdown from COVID-19, all classes were forced to go remote or online. We now have the largest experiment in how students and parents will feel about how this works for them. Without coronavirus, it would have been impossible to test this on such a large scale.

    Online Classes And Virtual Colleges

    College education costs and quality in the US have been going in the opposite directions. Even before the COVID-19 economic downturn, recent grads were having a difficult time finding a job. We’ve been on the cusp of something radical in college education for a long time.

    If schools remain closed for the 2020-21 academic year as well, it will be the beginning of the end for traditional colleges. Smart google searches, guided by experts, will be able to pair students with the best teachers in any given topic. Mediocre professors won’t survive.

    Coronavirus and the forced remote learning as a result of it, will change the world of education drastically.

    Virtual Schools

    Going virtual for smaller kids is more of a challenge and probably further in the future for us. But during social distancing, many parents are realizing that schools are mostly serving the purpose of childcare.

    High-quality online classes and tools for teaching kids are now available. Parents who have the flexibility to work from home (see next section), are finding it more productive to teach their kids at home. There is no stress of the early morning bus stop. Kids can get more sleep. And after-school is not needed.

    Of course, the social bonding with other kids will be missing. But even that can be mitigated with group activities planned by school districts that teach virtually.

    2. Remote Working And Business Trips After A COVID-19 Pandemic

    Businesses have also been forced to allow telecommuting for almost all employees. Once you have a sustained taste of the flexibility that comes with this option, more people will want this in their future roles.

    Physical offices may stay for a little longer. But the reduced costs of renting office buildings and improved connectivity tools for online video calls and meetings, will see a future in which employees whose jobs allow them to work remotely, essentially demanding this option.

    Woman carrying her child and working at home on a laptop for how coronavirus will change the world of remote work.

    Business Trips

    The same with business trips. Usually more time is spent travelling than in the actual face-to-face meeting. Again, with the more rapid introduction of holographic conferencing, like TelePresence, we will see fewer business trips.

    During the coronavirus crisis, extensive teleconferencing is the only option for business meeting with groups across geographic locations. What happens if many start to get a sense that the remote business interactions, in no big way hindered their ability to collaborate successfully? Also, given that travel budgets will be constrained for a sustained period, this will become a serious consideration.

    3. Dominance Of Online Shopping And The Demise Of Malls

    Online shopping for items like clothing and electronics reached its tipping point a while ago. Brick-and-mortar stores were hanging around more for sentimental reasons.

    However, the coronavirus lockdown has meant that more people have done their basic grocery shopping online as well. Expect many of them to become more accepting of future online deliveries and pickup options. Life is busy enough, eliminating a trip to the store will have its benefits.

    Person holding a red credit and shopping online on a laptop.

    Also, don’t underestimate the influencing abilities of the online retailers. They will be in a better position to maintain their grasp on these newly-acquired customers. Now that they have their email addresses, it will be much easier to lure them back with discounts and other marketing techniques. The foot is in the door now.

    4. How Coronavirus Will Change The World Of Automation And Artificial Intelligence

    Colored wheels and gears to represent how automation will change our world after COVID-19.

    We’ve already seen businesses start to adopt increased automation and AI. The coronavirus pandemic will change how other companies now approach digitization and automation. They will be forced to plan for how they can increase resilience in their supply chains and have better product traceability. And using automation to eliminate single point failure in factories.

    Given that most restaurants are either shut down or doing take-out only, some have now begun use robotic food service. Thus, eliminating or reducing wait staff.

    5. Telemedicine In A Post-Coronavirus World

    Doctor in a white coat holding out her stethoscope.

    The COVID-19 crisis will surely see a shift in the number of patients choosing remote medical consultations and follow-up appointments. During the lockdown, it’s the only option for most of us.

    It would have been quite challenging to convince seniors to try out telemedicine. But being the most vulnerable of the population to the coronavirus, this may be their safest and possibly the only option left to them. And many of them are now using remote consulting in place of in-office doctor visits.

    UPS and FedEx have both partnered with pharmacies like CVS to deliver medicines directly to patients homes via drones. Again, this is getting increased traction because of the fear that people, particularly seniors, have to going in person to the store during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    How Coronavirus Will Change The World Permanently

    Most people prefer a human connection. But with the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are compelled to try out the remote digital experience. Had they tried these products during normal times, they would have been much more critical of the approach. Given their fear of catching a potentially deadly virus, they now evaluate this technology from a more positive frame.

    Once people try something out and experience it firsthand, future influence towards using the same product becomes easier for marketeers. Expect most of the new technologies “forced” on people during social distancing to rapidly grow in popularity in the years to come. Coronavirus will change the way we live, permanently.

    How To Adapt To A World Changed By Coronavirus

    The future of technology was already on a path of fairly rapid change. With coronavirus, these changes in the way we live will be coming much sooner. The future will favor people who are valued for their decision-making skills. And are comfortable interacting with new technology.

    Some resources to help you with this are listed below.

    A full influencing reading list which will improve your understanding of how people make decisions and how to move them to where you want, can be found here:

    Best Books To Improve Your Influencing And Persuasion Skills

    Become more of a generalist and learn as many skill as you can. Even if you only get to an average level at each, if combined appropriately, it will make you more resilient in a rapidly adapting technological world.

    If you are interested in compiling a talent stack of killer abilities, here are some suggestions.

    Additional Reading

    To learn more about how ideas and innovation spread, read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

    The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

    Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].


    How coronavirus will change the world permanently; COVID-19 effects on future technology trends; Virtual colleges; Online learning; Remote working; Online stores; Automation; Artificial intelligence; Telemedicine

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