Hub Blog


How Covid-19 is shaping the tech trends of tomorrow

Adapting extra quickly to unexpected events is something we are all getting more accustomed to as a result of Covid-19. Many of the changes required of us involve embracing new technology in very different ways, creating clear cultural shifts. People working alongside automation and AI is a classic example of this in practice.

The 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub recently hosted our strategic partner Accenture, for a seminar on how they’ve revised their original 2020 Technology Vision to reflect the impact of Coronavirus. Presented by Erin Kinee and Laura Simpson, Accenture’s technology trends highlighted 5 new ways that technology is shaping our post-Covid working lives, our expectations as consumers and our social values.

The I in experience

This first trend is something we relate to very well at the Innovation Hub as it emphasises how organisations are building personalised, interactive, and shared virtual communities. Covid-19 has transformed the role and importance of digital experiences in people’s lives but has also highlighted shortcomings in terms of the level of personalisation they receive and the customer’s need for greater control during interactions. Businesses need to get better at understanding what their stakeholders want and providing that digitally either individually or as part of a shared virtual community.

AI and me

Advances in AI mean some job roles will be disappearing, but far more will be created that involve a true human-AI partnership. Leading organisations are already fostering human-AI collaboration, augmenting their workforces and combining AI’s near limitless capabilities with people’s ability to direct and refine ideas. The pandemic has made this an even higher priority and human-AI collaboration is being used to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

The dilemma of smart things

This trend explores how consumer trust is key if businesses are to successfully confront the ‘beta burden’ and unintended consequence of smart products that need to be updated by the customer. For example, smart devices are being used to identify symptoms, monitor patients and capture valuable health data. Robotic devices have been rapidly updated or repurposed for Covid-19, enforcing safe distancing in public spaces, dispensing hand sanitiser, and more. Businesses need to be mindful of consumer reactions to data privacy and the constant need for updates, to avoid overstepping or the benefits could be short-lived.

Innovation DNA

The Innovation DNA trend includes three different areas of innovation: mature digital technologies, scientific advancements, and emerging DARQ technologies (distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing). Covid-19 has shifted the balance, accelerating DARQ technologies beyond expectations, as well as speeding up innovation timelines and pushing organisations to work together in new ways. Good examples of this are competitors collaborating on projects to save resources and organisations looking for new ways to sell their services. Ports are a good example—when retailers shut down during the lockdown, their supply chains kept going, resulting in mountains of excess stock needing to be stored in containers, using surplus land available.

Robots in the wild

Like AI and me, Robots in the Wild explores the interrelationships between ‘man and machine’. To help ensure social distancing, robots are being released into the field, from controlled to uncontrolled environments. We see this in the many new “contact-less” solutions and monitoring programmes to stem the transmission of Covid-19. As robots take on new frontline responsibilities, we become more understanding of their important place in society. Not just to control the pandemic, but for other applications in the future, accelerating the robotics ecosystem. Just like 4G networks expanded in line with the growth of smartphones, robots, IoT devices and 5G will have a similar relationship.

Covid-19 has shown that we are now more dependent on technology than ever before and Accenture’s excellent 2020 tech vision trend review helped put this into context. The need to apply technology for innovation is very clear—the only question remaining is whether it is possible to respond fast enough. By joining us at future 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub events, and learning from experts in their fields, you can ensure your organisation will be well equipped to do so.

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