The term renaissance, which means “rebirth,” refers to a period in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries when remarkable innovation, art and literature were produced. It signified the end of the “dark ages,” with a renewed focus on human potential. In addition, this period saw a renaissance of science, marked by discovering and exploring new continents, expanding commercial transactions beyond national boundaries, and a revitalised interest in science and discovery. A few centuries later, global economic, environmental, sociological, and health-related crises are constantly pressing governments, organisations, and entrepreneurs to revive their approaches to business operations to be competitive in the contemporary marketplace.
With almost 204 million cases and 4.3 million deaths as of August 11th, 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most highly contagious health crises in recent human history (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/). In late 2019, the world was shocked when the World Health Organization had announced Covid-19 and in March 2020 declared the situation as a pandemic. It has shocked and surprised the world and has altered the competitive business landscape overnight. The pandemic has spread around the globe at a daunting speed. As a result, from time to time, many countries have imposed hash restrictions on movements and extended lockdowns to halt the spread of the virus, consequently bringing economic activities to a near standstill. In addition, despite the aura drawn to the scale of their capabilities and capacities, many non-essential physical stores have been forced to close until further notice. Stores that have remained open have suffered from reduced/rationed stock and social distancing requirements. These actions have resulted in consumers changing their habitual purchasing behaviors, preferring purchases made through digital platforms.
Consequently, the post-pandemic future has been one of our generation’s most disruptive economic episodes, changing the threat of substitution in many firms. Organizations and entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka and around the world had to fast-track their digital transformation to adapt to what has become known as the “new normal” in the post-pandemic future. And while digital technologies enabled governments, organizations, and entrepreneurs to quickly adjust to new ways of working, learning, connecting with family and friends and many more, the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. Amid this rapidly changing landscape, it has ever been more critical for organizations and entrepreneurs to understand the technology trends shaping the world around them.
Based on insights captured from 25 IT decision-makers from diverse firms across Sri Lanka, technology trends affecting businesses in the post-pandemic future were identified. Findings indicate that shift in IT strategy making and modernising digital infrastructure have become the vital digital priorities for organizations to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic future.
Shift in IT Strategy Making
In-depth interviews with IT decision-makers revealed that almost half of them are revisiting their IT strategy because of the Covid-19 pandemic and are re-architecting their IT infrastructure to meet new remote and hybrid working demands. Most of them believed that there would be long-term changes in the working patterns due to the pandemic, and remote and hybrid work models would become salient in the post-pandemic future. Accordingly, most companies are in dire need of redefining and transforming their business models by exploiting emerging digital technologies. In addition, the majority of respondents acknowledged the strategic importance of technology management as a crucial managerial component of the business rather than a cost-efficiency tool. Consequently, most of them noted the importance of having a well-defined IT strategy to fill gaps for technology talent, modernising digital infrastructure, and foster innovation and creativity.
However, contrary to the preconception that the Covid-19 pandemic pressurised Companies to cut down their expenses and investments, on a positive note, IT decision-makers stated that business investment in digital infrastructure has not slowed down due to the pandemic. Most of the IT decision-makers interviewed that they have accelerated digital transformation to satisfy the rapid growth in digital demands to cope with the challenges posed in the post-pandemic future. Furthermore, fears that the epidemic would stymie business development plans have dissipated, with roughly 30% of Companies reporting that they still intend to expand into new territories or countries, with the majority doing so via digital means rather than investing in physical infrastructure.
Modernising Digital Infrastructure
As reflected in the interviews, a successful digital transformation is only possible with a solid foundation. The interviews implied that a robust digital infrastructure enables companies to scale capacities quickly, react to shifting digital demands, and exchange data. Consequently, modernisation of IT infrastructure was identified as one of the top priorities of IT decision-makers. Most of the interviews highlighted that their Companies are in the process of migrating to cloud computing, investing in data centre infrastructure, and compliance with data protection regulations.
When asked about the critical barriers to modernising digital infrastructure, most IT decision-makers responded that outdated infrastructure and a lack of specialised staff are stifling progress toward digital transformation. Problems with lack of top-management support and well-defined IT strategy also appear to be more common among most Companies interviewed. Especially, small and medium-sized enterprises and the public sector have struggled with outdated and centralised infrastructure and bureaucratic management structure that no longer meets today’s dynamic digital demands.
In summary, like the renaissance emphasized the magnificence of human potential, in the “new renaissance” in the post-pandemic future, organisations and entrepreneurs have to embrace digital transformation to “augment” conventional business models to seize market opportunities. As we eagerly look forward to a brighter tomorrow beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, these insights will provide helpful guidance for organisations and entrepreneurs in initiating digital transformation strategies to be competitive in the post-pandemic future.
Dr. Thilini Chathurika Gamage
Senior Lecturer, Department
of Marketing Management
Faculty of Management Studies
Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka