Emerging technologies in managing disruptive changes of Covid-19

30 June 2020

Covid-19 has created an unprecedented situation with unimaginable consequences on businesses. A disruptive change that highlights the usefulness of emerging technologies when millions of the world’s workforces rely on technology to work virtually and businesses scramble to migrate their operations online. Innovative technologies make it possible for society to continue to connect, enabling employees to work remotely using online tools, video platforms and accentuates the urgency for adoption of transformative technologies by enterprises.

Before the pandemic, innovative technologies were slow in adoption and utilisation being viewed by enterprises as discretionary expenses and not critical to business strategies. Covid-19 has highlighted the role and importance of emerging technologies that is crucial to the response and management of the extremely volatile business environment although innovative technologies has been evolving and accelerating in the past decade.

Top emerging technologies available but are slow in adoption include Automation, IoT, robotics, AI, 5G, AR-VR and blockchain technology.

During the pandemic, AI has been critical in helping medical and public health authorities in providing vital insights, decision intelligence and impact of countermeasures, by enabling resource planning, finding treatments, and managing the spread predictions as well as identifying threats and vulnerabilities in society.

Emerging technologies have significant impact by enabling data to be shared in real-time, supporting health agencies with real-world evidence (RWE) from observational studies and containment strategies to assess potential approaches to fight the COVID-19 spread.

The most impactful of emerging technologies in managing the Covid-19 pandemic are RWE, telemedicine, AI, robotics, 3D printing, biometrics, Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), and quantum computing. The key innovations encompass:

  • AI- enterprise to take advantage of the power of AI, analytics and automation working together delivering the values of speed, scale, and convenience
  • Infrastructure and Connectivity – 5G/6G- optimizing networks for low latency, high reliability, high capacity, minimizing costs, making possible for low latency applications like AR/VR, vehicular communications, robotics, haptic communications
  • IoT-connecting all smart devices
  • Function as a service (FaaS) with apps to scale real time
  • Biometrics
  • AR-VR- functions -Augmented data management uses ML and AI techniques to optimise and improve operations
  • Cloud services and Quantum computing –process and analyse big data and key to leveraging machine learning, Natural language processing (NLP) in delivering speech to tech and tech to speech
  • 3D printing
  • Blockchain – provides full lineage of assets and transactions and transparency for complex networks of participants.

Business leaders have acknowledged the transformative shift with irreversible disruptive changes and an inflection point is underway with convergence of emerging and transformative technologies powering the economy. Thus, it is critical for a rapid adoption of new business model to thrive again.

The challenges involved for businesses in their roadmap to innovate and reset post Covid-19; require preparation, familiarisation, practice, adoption, and utilisation as key to trajectory of successful digital transformation. 

According to recent research (Lee S 2019), acceleration and connectivity are key for adoption but other essential organisational capabilities to consider include:

  • Mindset of innovative technologies adoption, re-skilling capabilities, sense of urgency acceleration of utilisation
  • Collaboration with industry ecosystems
  • Progressive adoption of innovative technologies and onboarding new skills
  • customer focused services – using data, collaboration AI data analytics
  • managing disruptive constraints – privacy issues, cyber security, risk, policies and governance
  • Improvements in connectivity -(5G, WiFi 6), compute capabilities (cloud, edge, machine learning), smart automation (RPA, AI), and intuitive user interfaces (conversational AI, gesture analysis, AR)

The world beyond Covid-19 requires a smarter, faster infrastructure and connectivity that encompass the convergence of technologies and dissolution of boundaries of business and consumer networks.  Acceleration and right platforms are crucial as opportunities exist in digital platform optimisation. In response, it is imperative to act urgently or risk being left behind as the future will be less secure, more unreliable, and potentially very costly to support these evolving needs (Lee S 2019).


Lee, S. 2019, ‘Digital Disruption: An Australian Context of Managing Disruptive Change in the Energy Industry’.