This is the latest installment of my ongoing series of discussions with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate leaders on what to expect as the world recovers in the post-Covid era in terms of technology and innovation.
With all that has taken place over the past year, every company has become a digital company. Efforts to build contactless enterprises have provided companies of all types a solid business reason to move forward, rather than simply rolling out the latest and sexiest technologies — a changed attitude from just a few years ago, says Sam Hodges, co-founder and CEO of Vouch. This work “will lead to a set of strong, well-managed start-ups who are well-positioned to grow in the years ahead, and to do so in a way very different from the ‘move-fast-and-break-things” movement of the past few years.”
We’ve been through a tough year with many headwinds, with many businesses disrupted. “All business models that directly affect people and customer experiences are changing,” says Eric Clark, chief digital officer of NTT DATA Services. “The Covid pandemic has accelerated the merging of digital and physical. Brick-and-mortar companies in particular have to go beyond digital-first to become digital-pervasive, leveraging digital channels and technologies to speed and enhance customer interactions and to make the physical safer.”
The rise of contactless enterprises means “a tremendous amount of clarity in two categories: consumer need and consumer mindset,” agrees Spencer Baird, executive in residence at Inmar Intelligence. “Entrepreneurs understand they need to align their product or service with a greater unifying mission that meets the customer needs with a unique value proposition. They need to now accomplish this all faster than ever before in a way that minimizes excess time and spend.”
As a result of this great convergence, “we’re witnessing a tremendous acceleration towards cloud, mobile, contactless engagement and work-from-anywhere,” says Andre Durand, CEO of Ping Identity. “These trends require a different approach to security and mobile digital experiences. Furthermore, many businesses are suffering and being asked to do more with less in weeks, not years.” This, in turn, increases demand for secure and trusted identity approaches that enable businesses “to deliver against these new realities by ensuring all digital interactions are as secure and frictionless in the digital world as they are in the physical world.”
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Telemedicine is a sterling example of serving customers through contactless engagements. “The technology that will lead to the next economic boom is telemedicine,” predicts Will O’Connor, CMIO of TigerConnect, citing industry statics that forecasts seven-fold growth in telehealth by 2025 as the pandemic continues to reshape care delivery. “During Covid-19, connecting with healthcare professionals by phone rocketed from a fringe idea to a mainstream force in a matter of months. Patients are realizing there is no reason to slog through traffic for a five-minute non-urgent appointment when you can check in from your home, get reminders via text message and have a face to face conversation over video. Virtual care is one welcome cost-cutting and time-saving revolution whose time has come – and could well prompt a broader tech revolution across healthcare — at last.”
All businesses “have worked on some level of digital transformation over the past decade, but now they need to create an experience and interaction with their customers that is increasingly digital,” says Baird. “Department stores, high-end steakhouses, and grocery stores are now all faced with the task of re-creating tactile, experience-based models over digital channels using new technology.”