As coronavirus continues to wreak havoc, it seems that the enterprise software sector isn't a haven. While businesses adapt and demand shifts, it's becoming more likely that things will be changed forever.
In February, reports suggested that the pandemic had yet to affect enterprise software, though things have changed rapidly over the last months.
Consumer companies like Apple and Amazon, do face tough yet better-understood hurdles around customer demand. Though, the prolonged impact of the shutdowns will take some time to comprehend.
Microsoft is a prime example of a company that has adapted quickly and a model other businesses can look to in the future. Microsoft expedited the development of Teams and added new features weekly. Within months, the company has evolved its products to support meetings of 250 people to live events of 100,000 users as well as streaming broadcasts.
While some companies will simply disappear, others will be forced to evolve. On an earnings call Bill McDermott, the chief executive officer at ServiceNow, suggested that what we will likely see over the next three years is a $7 trillion digital transformation.
This unprecedented acceleration could see changes like the accelerated and long term development of 5G technology, possible use for virtual reality (VR) in enterprises, as well as investments in smart city solutions.
As more people work online, bandwidth issues have plagued internet speeds. The promise of 5G's speed allows for instant communication and improved connection, making it the perfect solution for the surge in remote interactions. With increased dependence on sectors like telehealth and teleconferencing, which have become critical for enterprise operations during the outbreak, the case for 5G connectivity in the home and the office grows.
The increase in remote workplaces highlights a need for solutions when it comes to collaboration. While work-from-home resolutions are beneficial, they do hinder opportunities for hands-on training and interaction.
One answer is introducing VR. In a survey conducted by Perkins Coie, 49% of respondents said they were looking to use VR and other reality tools to mirror "real world training conditions." The scope for this technology feels limitless. For example, a technician could be trained in repairing specific equipment at home. VR could also facilitate meetings that teleconferencing solutions inhibit, like sharing complex prototype designs.
The most farfetched - though entirely possible - change enterprise software could see is the increased development of smart cities. Already countries are adapting to the stressors COVID-19 is placing on systems. The Australian government launched a new app and WhatsApp chat feature to handle citizens' questions and concerns about the pandemic. Chinese police are using drones to identify people in public with high temperatures who could pose a threat. Meanwhile, the South Korean government released an app that gives quarantined people a direct line with caseworkers who can answer any questions.
Business Insider estimates that smart city investment will reach $295 billion by 2025, up from $131 billion in 2020.
While we can't predict the future, it's a likely bet that nothing will be the same. Though, it's clear that the greatest innovators and those most quickly to adapt will come out on top.