Innovation in a Post-COVID-19 Era

This year we’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or the other – be it on our health, routines, or even our economic situation.

The lockdown disrupted all routines, making work-from-home not a work perk but a necessity. The home has become a place to live, work, study, exercise.

While we may have created new routines at home, certain business operations have fundamentally come to halt and may be so as long as socially distant norms will need to be in place.

This is where Digital Transformation & use of AI have no longer remained an option but an essential to rethink all business operations be in it manufacturing, retail, education, even service industries ,Health care, agriculture etc . Microsoft’s investment in use Al in agriculture & crop science in AP to improve farming productivity with Govt. of AP/ Telangana is one such example.

Committing to understanding and implementing digital-first technologies is the only way we can sustain and scale in the rapidly changing post-COVID world.

Role of Innovation

Innovation needs to be a mindset, not just a new product or method. Every day brings with it new challenges and with that a new opportunity to innovate. It is important to cultivate a curious mind that seeks out solutions with the up-and-coming resources around us, especially those leveraging digital technology.

Innovation must not simply mean new for new sake, in fact it is now more crucial than ever to discern where innovation is needed and how can technology help us innovate ideas, processes, products that may already exist but have a new need or application given the current context. Innovation must be used to solve for a real need or problem that needs to be solved.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a Virtual Interaction Platform on Business Interventions and Technology that aims to champion the role of technology in the future of Business growth and productivity.

COVID-19 has fast-tracked us into a more phygital (physical+digital) future which is why the technologies powered by Industry 4.0 become hyper-relevant to all industries – manufacturing, healthcare, education etc.

Industry 4.0 spotlights many relevant digital-first operations that need to be adopted including:

  1. Internet of Things (IoT)
  2. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  3. Cyber-physical systems
  4. Smart Manufacturing
  5. Smart Factories
  6. Smart Cities
  7. Cloud Computing
  8. Cognitive Computing
  9. Artificial Intelligence
  10. Machine Learning

Application in Different Industries

Business analytics are a key operation across industries and the #1 sought out skill by employers – from crop rotation and harvesting techniques to tracking patient information, data is the new oil to understanding where and how your product or service can make a positive impact.

Machine-learning and AI automation has fundamentally changed business operations and decision-making. Not only has it made certain jobs or processes redundant, but also rapidly increased productivity and effectiveness through its capacity for making large-scale real-time analysis as well as quality-control.

The growing integration of cyber-physical systems will be the new normal in an increasingly phygital (physical+digital future). As most of our lives have already moved online, integrating the offline and online lives of consumers, employees, students will be key to survival for any business or organization. The rise in e-commerce is proof for businesses to pay attention and build robust digital systems in their production and supply-chain infrastructure.

Smart homes, smart classrooms, smart factories will soon be an expectation as physical operations remain questionable and challenging given the current circumstances.

How then can we rethink physical operations to create their digital counterparts? What technology will we need to adopt and innovate?

Technology will be the key variable in information documentation, transfer, and decision-making. This poses equal part advancement as it does challenges. While this can increase efficiency and quality while reducing cost and time, it also brings new challenges such as data privacy, learning and training of new skills and procedures, as well as internet and cloud computing stability. Healthcare is a key sector that has seen a renaissance during COVID with remote patient care becoming a necessity for doctors to diagnose and recommend treatment plans.

Future of Innovation in India

India is leading in the cyber-software sector, but we have a long way to go in terms of advanced skill and infrastructure development that can support integrating cutting-edge technology in all aspects of the business processes.

By investing in the tenets proposed by Industry 4.0 that aim to bring together cyber and physical systems, India can reach greater heights globally for not only the major powerhouses but also smaller start-ups.

This is the right time for India to leverage digital adoption to not just survive but also thrive in this rapidly changing digital context.

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