Home office. Zoom socials. Live Instagram DJs. #AlwaysAvailable. That’s how fast the world changed between the beginning and end of March, 2020. When the lock down is over, how we work will never look the same. To adapt to the new normal, software will fill the gap in ways that were unexpected. Who will win is informed by who won past innovation events.
Who were winners in prior workplace revolutions?
The current sea change in how people work reminds me of the time when laptops first entered the workforce en masse. No longer was work only possible from your desk at the office or at home. Your third place became Starbucks or a park or poolside. Software that was on your work computer now also needed to be on your laptop. Word processing, spreadsheets and gaming were winners.
High speed internet allowed software downloads. No more time spent strolling to CompUSA or waiting hours for the latest anti-virus update or newest word processor version. With mere minutes, computer jockeys quickly returned to a high level of productivity. File transfer software to move large files, anti-virus for protecting the connected computers and backup software for all your important documents were the big winners of the time.
Digital cameras brought multimedia production to the masses. Never before could so many non-technical people take pictures and videos of themselves wherever they were. Software helped the neophytes to edit, print, burn and organize that multimedia for future generations. DVD burning, cloud photo storage and photo editing software were the champions in this time.
Who will win in the new normal, post COVID-19?
I believe that the new normal will be much less work from work. Companies that were once fearful of employees working from home have had no choice. Let go or die holding on to the past. Those companies are likely seeing what I see: WFH can quickly be a win-win proposition for employee and company. Higher productivity (so far), less office space necessary, more time for everyone with no commuting.
Becoming a more virtual company requires different types of tools to maintain or even increase productivity. Here are the categories that I think will be winners and why I think so:
- Video conferencing solution for people to feel like they are in a conference room together. Zoom is has taken the consumer world by storm during COVID-19, but companies like BlueJeans*, who was just acquired by Verizon, are integral parts to company’s future strategies. Enterprise grade secure video conferencing solutions will be crucial as the world moves to 5G and beyond.
- Online security and data privacy solutions protect computers themselves and the data flowing between your computer and the office network. VPN had been more of a techie product for protecting data going back and forth, but now that the workforce is remote, it’s a critical source of data protection for anyone remote. Companies like Cyberghost*, Surfshark* and NordVPN all have good prospects for the future.
- Online collaboration tools to facilitate working like a group of people in a room or in front of a whiteboard. Due to the rapid change from office based to all remote, a previously scheduled twenty person workshop was moved online to a remote collaboration tool called Miro. As a group, we all agreed that how the workshop was run with the software was so impressive that we are evaluating rolling out company-wide.
- Video creation platforms will win because businesses now realize that video delivery is so much more powerful to communicate than writing. The 5G revolution will support delivery of these pre-recorded and live-streamed videos. Companies and leaders should embrace video to tell stories to their team members. Here’s an example I recorded using WeVideo:
Public Service Announcement — Census 2020 Day
A message for the US cleverbridge employees encouraging them to fill out the national census. www.wevideo.com
Plus, there are likely to be several product categories that are created because of the current crisis. In hindsight, we will all say, “I should have thought of that!” I am personally extremely excited to see what the post-COVID new normal is. It is an exciting time to be in the software world!
*I know some of these companies well because cleverbridge has worked with them for years.