Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022

The Rise And Rise Of The Digital World

Are these changes stemming from Covid? Without Covid we would have landed in this virtual lifestyle eventually. Covid has accelerated this pace.

Representational Image/Unsplash

The world is changing fast. Covid-19 is accelerating mundane changes that used to take years, many folds and many such changes are irreversible.  

Even jobs and careers are getting a makeover. Interviews are done online, employees work from home, all meetings are done online, many have not even seen their offices! Even employers are saving tons of money by not renting office spaces.

Many employers have expressed their desire to keep this remote working option permanent as it saves them a substantial amount of time and money managing the property. Moreover, they can hire anyone from anywhere in the world. Replacing employees is now very simple. That works for employees too! They can work for any employer anywhere in the world and enjoy all the homely comforts.

Back in the post-Covid era, employees used to leave their office well before 5 pm to catch their trains or buses to go home. Now, as they are at home, they are saving on an average of 2 to 3 hours of commuting time every day. Many are putting that time back to work. Research has shown that the productivity of companies has increased significantly as employees now work longer hours from home.

We are witnessing the rise of the digital world. You may be wondering, are these changes stemming from Covid? Well, even without Covid we would have landed in this virtual lifestyle eventually, but slowly, maybe it would have taken 10-15 years. However, Covid has accelerated this pace.  

Looking at this rapid digital transformation, it seems as though we are building our digital twin online. We have a virtual social presence, virtual financial presence, we have even virtual careers engendering digital colleagues, digital classmates and digital friends. Every one of us has a digital twin now, which will stay online forever even after we are gone!  

If you go back in time and try to dig into the past of your grandparents or great grandparents, it is not easy. Nothing much would be available unless he or she is a celebrity. However, now each one of us have become virtually immortal! Our future generations can look at our social lives, financial lives, careers, accomplishments and so on. Artificial Intelligence algorithms have evolved to such an extent that they can even build our digital self and make them talk after we are gone! This is of course not good news for bad people as their dark side lingers on forever affecting their future generations. However, for majority of mainstream folks, there is a craving to build their digital twins with as much detail as possible. You will see the evidence of this in the number posts that come on Facebook, Instagram and other social sites. This craving to foster a digital twin is cogently causing the rise of the digital world. Covid is accelerating this pace.

The word “digital” has been relabeled as “smart”. We don’t say the home is becoming digital, we say home is becoming smart! Cities are becoming smart; businesses are becoming smart. Even manufacturing is becoming smart. Transportation and logistics are becoming smart too. A mart world is rising!  The smart world was rising even before Covid, however, the virus is impelling it.

As we all know, the smart world will not rise on its own. It has to be built. One of the main challenges of such a colossal endeavour is the availability of hi-tech skills. Even though Covid is spiralling the digital revolution, the digital world won’t rise without a strong and vast IT workforce. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Digital transformation is a trillion-dollar industry. The world is all set to take the plunge. Looking at all the changes that are happening in the global economy, these sea changes are coming much faster than we think. There will be an unprecedented demand for the IT workforce for this mega transformation. If the supply is slow, so will be the transformation. It simply means that the transformation now is not dependent on the industries willingness to undergo a transformation, they have already buckled up. It is now solely depending on the availability of the IT skill force. How much-skilled force does the world need? That depends on wages. Lower the wages bigger the size of the workforce. Lower wages, lower cost brings more industries into the arena. Bigger market, larger workforce only means one thing, accelerating digital transformation. This is both a challenge, an opportunity for IT companies around the world to play a vital role to endow the skills the world needs, accelerating the digital transformation, making the world a safe place to live.

Even after Covid is gone and forgotten, the trajectory it ejected us can’t be forgotten.

(Ravi Amblee is the author of The Ugly Fight, the award-winning book that deliberates on artificial intelligence and climate change. After completing his studies in artificial intelligence at MIT, he is deeply committed to climate advocacy promoting action against global warming employing artificial intelligence)