Tech post-covid

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, April 29, 2020

Imagine that in the Great Depression, one industry grew gangbusters in 1930.  This is what we’re in for as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis in Seattle. Industry consensus is pointing toward coronavirus accelerating cloud computing, remote work, and a more digital-centric economy.

If your business is manufacturing, you’ll need more automation and robotics. If your business is educating, you’ll need more online learning. If you business is healthcare, you’ll need more telemedicine. If your business is selling, you’ll need to do more online. And if your business is “anything” you’ll want more remote work and sales and support.

Most roads lead to more tech, much of it built right here.

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are number one, two, and three in public cloud computing today. Microsoft and Google are number one and two in technologies for remote work. As they emerge with more customers, those same customers will be ramping up efforts to build digital lines of business in preparation for the next crisis–increasing competition for already scarce tech talent further. A river of money will be flowing in and through Seattle–the only question is whether we will muster the political will to tap it to accelerate recovery.

We’ve collected some examples of the emerging consensus of a “more digital economy” here.

The digital-led recovery from COVID-19: Five questions for CEOs (McKinsey & Company)

There’s a popular meme going around that neatly captures the tipping point of digital. It’s a short questionnaire asking who is driving your digital transformation. The first two options are “CEO” and “chief digital officer.” Below that, highlighted with a bright red circle, is “COVID-19.”

The coronavirus pandemic is a humanitarian crisis that continues to take a tragic toll on people’s lives. There’s no denying it is also acting as a catalyst for change—economic, societal, personal, and corporate—on a scale not seen since wartime. The scale of the change and the speed at which it’s happening is shining a bright light on the fact that companies are facing a once-in-a-generation shift. And for all the uncertainty about what the future will look like, it’s clear already that it will be digital.

We believe the COVID-19 crisis is likely to significantly accelerate the shift to digital and fundamentally shake up the business landscape.

COVID-19: What US business leaders should know (PwC)

As companies move from reacting to mitigating the impact of the outbreak, strategies to emerge stronger will come in focus: Consider accelerating digital transformations as the shift to remote working reveals gaps in IT infrastructure, workforce planning and digital upskilling

Coronavirus Is Widening the Corporate Digital Divide (Harvard Business Review)

The stakes for digital transformation have increased dramatically. Now, digitizing the operating architecture of the firm is not simply a recipe for higher performance, but much more fundamental for worker employment and public health.

Covid-19: Protect, Recover and Retool (Bain & Co)

Use digitalization and partnerships to help your organization and operations increase resilience, scale, and speed…Trends like digital and automation that were evident before we entered the crisis have accelerated and will accelerate further.

Coronavirus: CIO Areas of Focus During the COVID-19 Outbreak (Gartner)

“The value of digital channels, products and operations is immediately obvious to companies everywhere right now.”…“This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”

The Rise of the AI-Powered Company in the Postcrisis World (BCG)

…COVID-19 is likely to be no different from other crises. It will greatly accelerate several major trends that were already well underway before the outbreak and that will continue as companies shift their focus to recovery. For instance, rather than heavily concentrating sourcing and production in a few low-cost locations, companies will build more redundancy into their value chains. …Consumers will purchase more and more goods and services online. And increasing numbers of people will work remotely.

We believe that the application of artificial intelligence will be immensely valuable in helping companies adapt to these trends.

Additional commentary and coverage: