How COVID-19 Shows That Technology Needs to Deliver on Its Promise

A samsung cell phone and laptop lay on a white desk top.

If we weren’t already hyper aware of the role technology plays in our work lives, our personal lives and our social lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has removed any doubt that technology is everything these days.

As my life has progressed, I’ve always been fascinated by technology and the promise it carries. Every new app, every new software and every new piece of AI has promised me that, because of its existence, now my life would be easier.

But if that were truly the case, explain to me why I spend the bulk of my time immersed in technology and not reading a book, walking outside or getting some much-needed sleep. As we navigate this unprecedented coronavirus era, I have found myself completely consumed by technology. It’s made me ponder whether it has actually delivered on its promise of making things easier.

Has trying to keep track of passwords, manage my subscriptions and navigate all of the open tabs on my computer just made things more complicated? The answer may surprise you.

This Year in Technology 

If you had asked me in January of 2020 if I relied heavily on technology to do my job, I, like almost all of us, would have said yes. And yet, here we are, just four months later, and my reliance on technology has increased considerably.

Where would we be without phones, Zoom, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon? I was embarrassed last month when I received my cell phone bill. The amount of time I spent staring at that little screen or talking into it was troubling. My Netflix viewing time was excessive. Looking at the number of Zoom invitations on my calendar made it look like I worked for the web conferencing company. And just when I was about to throw a tantrum and declare I was going off the grid for a month, I got an interesting stat in one of our company reports (sent to me via Slack, of course).

Apparently, I was not the only one whose bandwidth consumption had increased.

A graphic notes that usage of LaborChart features has doubled since COVID-19.

COVID-19’s Impact on LaborChart Usage

Our LaborChart customers have also increased their usage of our system during COVID-19; and not just a slight increase. Usage of our solution has spiked considerably.

Some features of our software have doubled their monthly usage from pre-COVID-19 times. I went back and checked to make sure that was true. Sure enough, our customers have been relying on LaborChart more than ever to manage and communicate with their workforce during this pandemic.

Given that none of us are in a central office, it should not be surprising that companies are relying more heavily on technology to communicate with their employees. But I was not prepared to see such a dramatic increase for LaborChart.

COVID-19’s Impact on on Other Industries

I went out to see if our spike in usage was something that other industries and technologies were experiencing. Surprisingly, according to a study by Pendo, as of April 20, 2020, 75% of companies, across a wide range of industries, reported that their use of their software products was “normal” or roughly the same as their pre-pandemic usage.

A graphic showing that 75 percent of software companies have minimal change in product usage during COVID-19.

In general, there doesn’t seem to be massive increases in reliance on technology. But if you dig deeper, certain segments of the business community have experienced fairly large increases in usage:

  • In the healthcare field, physicians reported that their use of telehealth platforms increased roughly 63% at the outset of the pandemic and have remained there ever since.
  • The use of education-related software, necessitated by the online learning environment, experienced a roughly 145% gain in usage.
  • Banking and finance-related platforms spiked roughly 41%.

Note that none of this includes the aforementioned Zooms and Amazons of the world that have seen massive increases as well.

What Does This All Mean?

There are certain aspects of our jobs and personal lives where technology has provided a convenience we have come to rely on—a way of making our days a little less complicated.

I’ve come to the conclusion that technology by itself does not make our lives faster, easier and more enjoyable. It’s the technologies that actually solve real world problems that will come out on top. They’re the innovations that provide an efficient solution to the challenges we all face.

And whether it’s Amazon delivering our toilet paper within two hours of receiving the order, Zoom allowing us to meet (and happy hour) wherever, whenever, or LaborChart giving a specific industry the ability to manage its workforce digitally, the technologies that deliver on the promise of the digital age are the ones that will stick around.

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