A regular review of top tech stories as covered by technology, business and news blogs and publications.
Although COVID-19 is still dominating the news cycle, businesses have been living with the situation for over a month now. Many businesses continue to struggle, but many more have found an uneasy stability as they have grown accustomed to a remote workforce and new processes. The initial reactions to the crisis have given way to a more balanced view on behavior that is both practical and sustainable.
At the same time, some businesses are actually thriving during this time since their business models address the unique needs of the lockdown. These companies and industries can afford to look into the future, even as they are rapidly addressing today’s tactics. The news stories for this month reflect the changes taking place as businesses and IT professionals adjust to a new world order.
Top Story: Creativity Becomes a Critical Business Process
Wherever companies are on the spectrum of success and struggle, the way that business gets done has changed dramatically. For successful firms, there has been a need to ramp up production. For struggling firms, there is obviously the need to secure revenue. Both activities require creative thinking, especially when it comes to the use of technology.
From Fast Company:
We’ve researched and spoken to a variety of small businesses around the world to find out what they’re doing to get through this uncharted territory. The main takeaway from all of them: flexibility. Things are not business as usual, and everyone is getting creative to make things work.
There is a dual role for technology as companies reimagine the way they do business. First, the basics have become more important than ever. From communication tools for the workforce to network capabilities for handling increased traffic, the foundational components of IT must be operating at a high level. Some businesses have scrambled to patch together a solution, and the long-term answer may require additional work.
Beyond the basics, emerging technology offers new options for innovative approaches. While many existing IT activities support the foundation for digital work, most emerging technologies are components for solutions built on this foundation. Upcoming research from CompTIA highlights the way that emerging technologies combine to form new solutions and the way that creativity plays a new role in strategic IT.
Trend Watch: Privacy in the Spotlight Again with Contact Tracing
Experts say that contact tracing will be a key part of recovering from the pandemic. While contact tracing has been performed in the past, technology offers new possibilities for this critical activity. Unfortunately, it also reignites the debate over the best balance between privacy and benefits.
For years, lawmakers, privacy watchdogs and regulators have felt deceived by tech companies, who've used technical details to hide their tracking capabilities. The "move fast and break things" mindset has created innovations, but it's also deeply broken public trust in big tech.
Apple and Google have combined forces to embed contact tracing capability into their smartphone operating systems. With more than three billion smartphone users around the world and Android/iOS capturing more than 99% of that market, this could be a powerful tool. The companies are not directly building contact tracing apps, but instead are providing an API for the embedded capabilities so that health authorities can build their own apps.
However, privacy is still a huge concern. Both companies have been extremely proactive in addressing privacy issues, and that openness has been praised by several privacy advocates, but the fact remains that many users will not feel comfortable opting in. That discomfort along with the lack of comprehensive coverage across all populations means that these efforts can only be an aid instead of the full solution. Even so, the level of trust remains a major hurdle for anyone implementing technology that relies on some amount of personal information.
Tech in Real Life: NFL Draft Shows Promise of Virtual Events
With pro sports leagues on hiatus, most fans are hungry for any kind of sporting-related content. When that content is the NFL Draft, one of the most anticipated events of the year for football fans, the stakes are high. As the virtual event kicked off, everyone watched in anticipation to see what technical glitches would occur. To the delight of the NFL and the dismay of those hoping for a disaster, the broadcast was very smooth.
Many team officials had at least four screens in their home offices or basements for keeping up with the draft, accessing league-wide video conference calls and communicating with their own scouts and executives. Multiple executives and head coaches told ESPN they had tech experts in and out of their homes in recent days to set up everything from generators to four different WiFi systems.
Obviously, the NFL has more resources at its disposal than most businesses. Still, the success of the draft proved that focused planning can help minimize glitches. Considering that the NFL pulled off an event of this magnitude with about a month to plan, the lesson for businesses is that success lies in thinking creatively about reaching out to customers and then managing the project tightly.
As with most digital initiatives, building a virtual event is a cross-departmental activity. CompTIA learned many lessons in the transition of CCF from a live event to an online conference, including the importance of properly setting expectations and then managing every function in line with the new objectives. The challenge for IT pros is to accurately represent the costs involved in ambitious plans while also thinking outside the box to deliver results in a time when everything is shifting.