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It is difficult to comprehend the significance 2020 had on the global economy. In each sector, the necessary steps taken by many governments to counteract the Covid-19 virus have had a profound impact on behaviours of organisations, and their customers. From the airline sector where traffic volumes plummeted, to online shopping where transaction volumes boomed, the changes in economic activity have been as transformative as they have been sudden. It is tempting to see many of these effects as temporary, and hope that the future post-pandemic landscape will yield a return to a status which largely mirrors that of the pre-pandemic past.
But there are some key behavioural themes which are likely to become a natural part of our lives going forward, even after the pandemic is brought, hopefully, under control. Some of these themes are set to impact 2021 and beyond, and we expect changes in IT focus to deliver key changes in the post 2020 world.
One major impact of the virus is the disruption to the relationship between an organisation and its customers, notably in sectors with a historically strong brick-and-mortar presence.. Banking and retail are seeing a massive shift to online relationships with customers and this has placed strain on the organisational processes set up to manage this online channel. Physical interaction is often being replaced with digital interaction, and the reliance on digital identity in this process is increasing. On top of this, virus-related staff illness has impacted service capability at the exact time when demand is significantly increasing. This creates increased security risks simply through additional transaction volume, new online customers, and pressure on existing systems. And exemplifies why digital identity and its management is becoming an even higher management priority.
A second impact is the prevalence of home working which has boomed during lockdown. This places greater stress on legacy security perimeters that were not designed to cope with the complexities of hybrid workforces or the access management challenges that remote work brings to data security and privacy. More nuanced approaches based on fine-grained analysis of access, for example identity/device/location/time, need to be deployed to provide the right assurance that access is meeting organisational and regulatory needs.
Organisations are now being forced to quickly transform their digital channels, and many traditional industries where pre-virus progress has been measured in quarters and years are being tasked to implement changes in weeks and months. This has been challenging, but it has produced a paradigm-shift in programme planning with the hope that the improved velocity of change can become ‘baked-in’ to future delivery of change. This is good news for IT vendors who are able to support the changes required to deliver modern services.
Predicting how 2021 looks from here, it is easy to be optimistic about the IT sector for product and service vendors who are able to deliver digital transformation at pace, and address some of the identity and access management challenges arising in online channel concentration, and in exploding levels of remote work.
So it’s not all bad news. While much of the change in 2020 is unwelcome, some aspects are positive. More time at home; the increased convenience of online services. If organisations can continue to adapt and offer increased convenience and appropriate security, much of this may become a performance feature of both customer and workforce behaviour through 2021 and beyond.