17 Dec 2020

How the pandemic changed tech in 2020

From Nine To Noon, 11:20 am on 17 December 2020

There has been a ‘J’ shaped rise in tech take up by business this year, technology commentator Bill Bennett says.

It was gently rising year by year and then suddenly in the space of about two months everything leapt forward, three, four in some cases people are saying five years, he told Kathryn Ryan.

contact tracing app background map with copyspace .

Photo: 123RF

And it’s industries traditionally conservative about taking up tech that have moved forward the fastest, he says.

The NHS moved during first lockdown to put doctors online via Zoom calls.

“The NHS reckons that was about ten years’ of technology adoption in the space of a month,” Bennett says.

He has been seeing local examples too. One an infrastructure consulting firm who had been pondering working from home for a few years.

“If they were going to start on a programme of allowing everyone to work from home, they reckon it would take 6 to 9 months of planning, then there would be a trail period then everyone would be brought in for discussions on how that worked and compare notes, then get the HR people in and the legal people in.

“It would probably take 18 months to two years to implement a working from home strategy for that company. They said they did it in 36 hours.”

People have learnt that you can leap forward that much in a short space of time, he says.

“Now that’s all bedded in and working people are looking to other parts of their business where they can adopt technology and move forward at a similar speed.”

An example is this particular infrastructure company using augmented and virtual reality, he says. The company manages infrastructure projects around the Pacific.

“But they couldn’t fly in and out of Fiji to supervise those projects during the lock downs so they would get a junior engineer somewhere in the country where the project was on to walk around the project.”

A person at desk in Auckland in Auckland would converse with them via a headset.

And it was a massive game-changer in many ways, Bennett says.

“The first thing they learned from it was it extends the working life of experienced professionals because when you are in your 60s it starts to be a problem leaping around rugged terrain, but you can send a younger person in.”

The flip side of that is the younger person is learning faster, he says.

“They are getting someone with 30 years more experience saying ‘that doesn’t look quite right to me can you go and have another look at that?’”

He says the company has reported big advanced in training and learning times as a result.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Nine To Noon

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)