Transitioning to a Digital Age Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Transitioning to a Digital Age Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
This scatter diagram features the countries struck by Covid-19 at the early stage of the pandemic, ranked by severity level

Roar writer Scarlett on the importance of adaptation in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, and how companies around the world aim to meet this generational crisis head-on with the help of digital technologies.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic took over the globe at lightning speed, humanity has faced an unprecedented crisis necessitating reform and change from government officials and business leaders. As soon as local quarantine regulations and social distancing measures were enforced in communities around the world, more and more digital-based activities began taking place. As a result, the demand for high-tech services and products is increasing swiftly. Societies around the world have needed to adapt to the digital age amidst this global health crisis, for the sake of the survival of the human race. 

In just the past few months of widespread chaos, countless lots lives and a devastating economic recession – the worst since the global economic crisis in 2007-2009 – have rocked the globe. Sharp rises in unemployment and steep declines in countries’ GDP only contribute to these losses. The world has suffered not only emotionally, but by the aftermath of a failing economy. In the face of these suffocating wounds, it is the responsibility of the world’s people to realise and respond to the severe damage Covid-19 can still wreak on communities, and its potential to throw people into life-threatening situations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that “we will be living with this virus for a long time” – her claims suggest how important the development of strategic planning is in responding to Covid-19.

Leading economists and business leaders have been urging governments to take action and set necessary priorities in the fight of the Covid-19 outbreak. The present is already a time of rapid change, as businesses across the world shift toward a new era dominated by AI, 5G network, and cloud technologies. A digital transformation, one able to enhance collaboration between business partners and boost efficiency overall, could be exactly what we need to help combat this pandemic. 

Since the pandemic began, the Global Economic Forum has gathered immense support for the business community through its launch of the Covid Action Platform to help stabilise the economy in these unusual times. During a virtual call held in early April, participants from several businesses and organisations voiced their opinions as to the next approaches which should be taken. Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, stated: “Given the nature of the crisis, all hands should be on deck, all available tools should be used.” Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, also expressed his thoughts on the ideal focus for businesses: “The number one thing is to focus on employees and customers.” He emphasised that both groups should be approached with deliberate care in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable relationship between households and businesses.

Another company has stood out in its handling of affairs during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a North American investor and developer in real estate, RXR Realty faces its own barriers to doing business, as it is bound to one universal acknowledgement: location is the primary measurement of value in real estate. Surprisingly, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, RXR considered this global crisis an opportunity to restructure their business models by implementing an innovative set of technological tools to embrace a digital transformation.

Before the start of the outbreak, RXR had already established a digital lab seeking to provide the best services possible to meet tenants’ commercial and residential needs. By entering a stage of enhanced digitalisation, RXR seeks to reinvigorate the struggling company with a complete refurbishment of their traditional roots and familiar patterns at the core of their business values. In an inclusive collaboration with Leap by McKinsey, they gathered a specialised group of professionals, ranging from data scientists, engineers, designers, and product managers in an endeavour to build new technological services, customised and personalised to be their best. One of the innovations RXR made is a personalised app able to provide digital services and products tailored to residents’ needs, such as grocery deliveries, rental payments, and moving schedules, so their personal living experiences are fulfilled with perfect optimisation.

In addition, regarding office environment, RXR CEO Scott Rechler emphasised: “Helping to ensure an environment that prioritizes safety and wellness is particularly important in light of the Coronavirus.” As a result, the company invested in digital capabilities by developing another new app called RxWell. Its main function provides information on the environment of a company building, like occupancy levels, air quality, and worker shift times. The transition has proved successful. One of the primary factors of its success lies in RXR’s core business value of customer experience. Due to their swift response to the pandemic, reshaping the way business could be done in difficult times, RXR has succeeded in surviving the unpredictable changes that came with Covid-19, and has thrived in its own creative and innovative way. Thus, a business that is ready for change will experience longevity and prosperity no matter how unusual the world turns out to be. This is the kind of enterprising spirit modern businesses need. 

Likewise, it is of extreme importance for educational institutions to take necessary measures and actions to ensure that their entire faculties and student communities get the learning experience they deserve. As a leading institution in higher education, King’s College London (KCL) emphasises richness and inclusivity in university experience above all else. Thus, as the new academic year approaches, KCL has announced a combination of on-campus teaching and online learning as the main plan for class deliveries. In order to boost the number of online resources available, the university unlocked a series of technological services, such as free access to thousands of knowledge-based videos at LinkedIn Learning, while providing a massive library database for researching purposes. Determinedly, KCL is keen to ensure that students receive the kind of online education they should have in spite of external factors.

Indeed, Covid-19 has forced many new and unfamiliar changes in the way society deals with its economic and educational environment; and some may not be willing to accept these immediately. However, people may find themselves surprised at the blooming growth of possibilities this transformation will lead to. Evolution has always been the greatest aspect of human continuity. At the end of the day, people will find a way to sort things out.

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