The role of technology in times of crisis and disruption

As we work through this period of unprecedented challenge and disruption, few things are certain. Perhaps the only certainties are: that the challenge related to Covid-19 will be with us for some time; our new norm may not be our old norm (hopefully, we will see positive developments in areas like equality and environmental consciousness & action) and lastly, that technology will play a critical role in not only dealing with the challenges we face, but in allowing us to get back to normal, and to create the new normal.

Frontline healthcare staff are foremost in mind and heart for most of us these days and ensuring their health and protection has become one of the key battlegrounds in efforts to contain and respond to the Covid crisis. Public health authorities have struggled to respond in terms of the provision of PPE and ensuring that supply can be directed to where it is most needed, due to fragmented ICT systems, disconnected supply chains and inability to integrate new entrant suppliers. In most cases organisations have behaved ethically in terms of seeking to resolve these issues but we have probably all heard or read of instances where certain organisations have sought to use high demand for goods and services to profiteer and indeed we have seen some health authorities fall foul to PPE related fraud. Technology will certainly make a significant contribution to helping solve these challenges by creating secure, intelligent and agile marketplace and supply chain solutions.

Most countries, relatively speaking, have massive healthcare organisations and infrastructure with as many as 1.5 – 2% of the entire population of a country directly employed by central healthcare authorities and many more indirectly employed in healthcare provision. Modernisation in public healthcare has been significantly restrained by austerity politics since the financial crisis of 2008 with the result being that in many cases, even fundamental infrastructure is below par. A combination of bureaucracy, policy and under investment has meant that modernisation through digital transformation has been a little more than sloganeering and electioneering, rather than real world transformation.

Now that our health systems have been tested with a global crisis and in many cases have been found wanting (although not all, it must be said) real investment and action in digital transformation must surely be very high on the agenda for government and health authorities going forward. Challenging the old way of doing things within the sector and embracing innovation must surely be part of creating the new norm in terms of fit for purpose & crisis ready health services. Technology in areas such as process automation and robotics in hospitals and facilitation or increasing remote health care delivery will be critical areas for development.

In many countries, attention is naturally turning to how can we unlock the lock down and safely restart industry and our economies; here too technology will play a vital role. The actual economic impact of the Covid pandemic is one of the greatest and most concerning uncertainties. While the protection of human life should be first and foremost in our efforts towards crisis response digital innovation, creating solutions that will help to safely unlock the lock down is very much part of what we need to address as technology centric organisations.

Social distancing and rapid scale test and contact tracing are key areas that will be vital to safely re-starting the economy and in these areas, leveraging wireless communications for proximity sensing and managing social distancing will be critically important. The analogue innovation that certain sectors (like health and food & pharma retail for instance), have adopted, will need to be transformed to digital equivalents in order to scale in these sectors and to be workable for industry at large.

Testing has been proven to be key in countries that have managed best in flattening the curve and here too technology will play a vital role in terms of facilitating deployment for rapid scale-up. It is critical also to remember that such solutions, are critical not only in terms of re-starting locked down economies in developed countries, but even more so as part of how developed countries can help contain contagion in developing and under-developed countries, if the human cost is to be minimised.

Mobica is investing in innovation and solutions to help address both crisis response and unlocking lock-down. Please reach out if you would like to learn more and/or explore potential for collaboration towards addressing these challenges.