A Year Into COVID: 5 Growing Technologies in the Post-COVID Era
Among all the species on this planet, humans are especially capable of adapting to changes, and are extremely innovative and accomplishing under high pressure. Perhaps this is why COVID-19 has led to a surge in technological advancements. The COVID-19 vaccine itself is an amazing accomplishment: In less than a year, the first mRNA vaccine in human history has been created and adopted for clinical use — a speed that is unprecedented and unimaginable during normal times.
Under similar pressure, businesses and organizations are speeding up the process of adopting new technologies. Most companies are adopting cloud-based working platforms to make an easier and safer remote work experience. Schools are adopting new communication tools for smoother remote learning, while governments are establishing advanced tools and contact tracing systems as an effort to contain the virus.
So, what are some of the major technological advancements currently taking place? In this article, we will take a deeper look at some of these technologies so that businesses can gain a lead in the post-COVID era.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Since the beginning of the pandemic, companies in the retail business are working around the clock to modify their operating models so that they can sustain and succeed in the online shopping environment.
The biggest challenge of selling products online is the difficulty of retaining customers within the “store”. When shopping in a physical store, the customer needs to make an effort to travel to and walk into the store, making it a significant sunk cost. Moreover, if a customer wants to leave the store, they need to take the effort of physically walking out, which takes another minute or two. However, when shopping online, there is no sunk cost associated with accessing the store, and customers can leave the store within the blink of an eye. Another thing is that when shopping offline, similar and related items are usually displayed in the same area, which makes it easy to compare products and shop related items. This experience is less seamless in an online environment.
To keep customers from leaving the online store and to retain existing customers from switching to competitors, ecommerce platforms like Amazon are using machine learning to understand the search and navigation behaviour of their users, then using AI to calculate an optimized algorithm so that the “related items” and “recommended items” lists contain products that are exactly what the customer is looking for. This encourages the customer to spend more time on the website, offering a shopping experience very similar to that of a physical store.
Similarly, AI-generated algorithms are also predominantly used in social media and entertainment media websites such as Instagram and YouTube for increasing exposure to relevant content as well as for targeted advertising. These algorithms are so effective and addictive that they can keep visitors on the site for hours.
Apart from online shopping and media consumption, AI is applied in a variety of other areas, especially in digital life services. This brings us to the next topic: IoT.
IoT (Internet of Things) and 5G Network
Prior to COVID-19, IoT devices were regarded by many as fancy gadgets. Now with prolonged social distancing and remote work, people are becoming more familiar with and more dependent on these digital life services. IoT has gradually become an integral part of our homes, automobiles, hospitals, factories, and power grids. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that the number of IoT devices worldwide is set to increase from 30 billion in 2020 to 56 billion in 2025, with the total data generated from connected devices quadrupling from 18.3 ZB in 2019 to 73.1 ZB in 2025 (1 ZB = 1 billion TB). By 2030, an average person in the US is expected to possess 15 IoT devices.
A major area of IoT growth directly contributed by COVID-19 is the healthcare industry. As COVID-19 patients flood hospitals, forcing them to maximum capacity, healthcare providers are accelerating the adoption of IoT medical devices to treat outpatients. Not only are physicians using video conferencing tools to communicate with their patients, IoT wearable devices are used to track the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar level in real-time. These devices help save excessive time spent on medical visits, keep patients safe from COVID-19, while allowing the physicians to understand the patient’s condition better.
Another field that contributes largely to IoT growth is the mobility industry. Many new vehicles sold in the market today are equipped with internet connectivity. Even though autonomous driving mostly relies on sensors and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), real-time internet connectivity via C-V2X technology will significantly improve reliability. By the mid-2020s, autonomous vehicles will be able to share information over the Internet via the 5G cellular network just as smartphones do. (To learn more about autonomous driving, see AUTOCRYPT.)
With the help of the 5G network, IoT devices are becoming more capable of providing reliable and real-time services. By the end of the decade, “internet of things” will become an outdated term as we take it for granted that all “things” are connected to the Internet.
Speaking of 5G, another technology that greatly benefits from increased internet speed is cloud computing.
Cloud computing is a field that saw the most immediate impact from the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020 alone, corporate spending on cloud computing rose 37% in the United States. Working from home has led to the surge in demand for data storage and sharing services hosted via the cloud, as well as online conferencing applications.
However, cloud computing has its limitations. It is important for public cloud service providers to ensure they have sufficient infrastructure to meet the growing demand for storage space and traffic volume. They also need to ensure they have enough staff to provide support for users of SaaS products.
Another major risk of relying heavily on cloud services and applications is risks associated with cybersecurity.
All the above digital transformations have increased our reliance on the Internet to store and share data. This poses a major challenge to cybersecurity because threat actors are becoming less interested in causing immediate disruption but are instead seeking ways to silently steal data for monetary gains. Ecommerce platforms have been one of the most targeted victims as attackers try to use the injection of malicious codes to exfiltrate the payment card information of users. (To learn more about how to keep web applications safe, see WAPPLES.)
IoT security is also crucial for the safety of our digital society. Encryption and authentication technologies are used to protect autonomous vehicles from attempts of data manipulation and theft. At the end of the day, security measures must be taken to keep every connected device safe.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows the sharing of sensitive information across the Internet in real-time. We all know that blockchain technology can be used for payment processing and money transfers. However, there are a plethora of other areas where blockchain can be applied. For instance, blockchain is now being applied by governments to keep track of the spread of the virus without invading privacy. Due to the decentralized nature of the technology, only the data subject knows whether they are exposed to the virus.
Blockchain is also very helpful in supply chain management. For example, it is used for tracking and managing the medical supply chain, such as the logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine. It allows all parties in the supply chain to add new information to the record and view the details as the product moves through the supply chain.
The great advantage of using blockchain technology is that it enables data sharing without compromising cybersecurity, making it one of the most useful technologies in the age of big data.
Growth Amidst Crisis
Looking back at history, nearly every global crisis ended up with a significant technological advancement. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. We should stay hopeful and do our best to contain the virus, and start to adopt these technological changes to better prepare ourselves for a successful post-COVID recovery.
Check out Penta Security’s product lines:
Web Application Firewall: WAPPLES
Database Encryption: D’Amo
Identity and Access Management: ISign+
Car, Energy, Factory, City Solutions: Penta IoT Security