Innovation has always been the driver of success. New means of technology has helped society progress by increasing efficiency and making life for each individual, business and household less complicated. The Government has steadily increased its resources and funding towards technological innovation, identifying this as a key ingredient for a robust economy. Today, we are in a position to say that this investment has paid off and has led to our economy soaring and reaching new heights.
Malta has become known for being a hub for innovation, with unprecedented trust and investment being directed towards technology and new digital tools. COVID-19 has struck a chord in Malta and the world, testing our resilience as a globalised nation and whether we can come out stronger after all this is behind us.
While many have acknowledged the importance of technology, we are all guilty of taking it for granted. In times like these, technology has helped us keep in touch with our family members and loved ones. Without investment in proper infrastructure to help such innovation and technology grow, we would be in a very different situation today.
The increased use of technological means and digitalisation has skyrocketed due to the current pandemic. Companies that have long held back from the use of technology in their day to day operations have had an unfortunate shock to their system. Overnight, all forms of businesses have reshaped their business model and the way they operate to accommodate this new ‘normal’ everyday scenario. The ‘evolve or die’ phrase has taken on even greater meaning – businesses and individuals who are currently passing through struggles have adopted technological measures to reach out to its client base and provide their product or services to the ever-increasing consumer demand.
Undoubtedly, technology has a pivotal role in society. From use in the health sector to test and prevent certain risks, to other social dimensions such as the increased use of online counselling to assist with mental health issues, physical wellbeing and the dissemination of public health announcements.
``Without investment in a proper infrastructure to help such innovation and technology grow, we would be in a very different situation today``.
— Clayton Bartolo
Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services & the Digital Economy
Digitalisation has also impacted other industries, such as the cultural and entertainment sectors, which through different digital tools has helped keep individuals of all generations occupied and learning new things.
Our older generation, whom some thought would never grasp the use of technology, are now keeping in touch with their loved ones through different social media platforms. Without any doubt – the importance of technological use in everyday life, both for business and personal needs, have truly been highlighted by this current situation.
Malta, throughout the years, has continued to increase investment in its communication network. Thanks to the innovative and proactive approach of telecommunication companies present on our Island, Malta can boast of a strong network that in turn helps the increased use of different technological tools by all our community. This advanced level of infrastructure can help shape our new idea of digitalisation within society. Take education as an example, the pandemic has highlighted shortcomings within this sphere that have now led to increased investment and use of technology for the purposes of our educational institutions. Students, lecturers and academics are now embracing the notion of online lectures, and possibly creating a new norm where students do not have to miss a lecture or any information thanks to the role played by technology.
Shifting to business, the Coronavirus pandemic has reshaped business models with entrepreneurs revisiting their plans, be it still at the inception stage or other long-established companies. With the help of Government and stakeholders, teleworking has become a widely accepted concept. Our plan is to continue to encourage and invest in digital tools that will help businesses continue to implement teleworking conditions such as through the use of video conferences. Undoubtedly, these measures will have a wider positive impact on the physical and mental health of the employee, potentially increase efficiency and productivity for employers, while also positively impact the environment.
Recent Government direct investment has paved the way for innovation to flourish. The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the need to adopt technology and digitalisation in operations, however, one must see the positive in this. Diversification of our economy to create room for new niches such as AI, IoT and Blockchain technology will help cement our position as a hub for innovation and technological advancement. Let’s embrace this new norm, invest, diversify and ultimately come out of this pandemic even stronger and as a technological leader on the world stage.
Fast-tracking digital solutions to maintain continuity – A step in the right direction
There has been a remarkable shift in the way businesses are prioritising technology to maintain the continuity of existing business functions. The main theme behind a successful digital transformation during this crisis will be based on the creation of business models that will survive in a less contact society concept. Will you define the new normal to innovate faster and meet demand?
When an unforeseen crisis strikes, it is up to your business to have the appropriate measures in place in order to counter it. New opportunities have unlocked the potential of e-Commerce, while digital banking tools, such as mobile wallets and online payment platforms have become the new norm. Forced social distancing parameters are driving businesses to embrace video conferencing and telemedicine is being practised at an unprecedented scale. Robots are disinfecting rooms, drones are patrolling public areas to conduct thermal imaging and 3D printers are printing masks and parts for ventilators. Limited human interaction is paving the way for automation.
In a world after COVID-19, we will continue seeing technology playing a leading role in the reshaping of entire industries and generating efficiency gains. What is concerning, however, is the number of businesses that are wholly vulnerable because of two principal factors; an undeveloped continuity plan and lack of cyber-security defence.
You might have had your business plans for 2020 ready, but evidently, COVID-19 requires a forward-thinking approach, new strategies and re-planning on many fronts. Decision-makers and business leaders need to reconsider whether their plans are good enough. What you knew before may not serve you well in an altered tomorrow. Business leaders must adopt a proactive approach and be prepared to adjust their products and services to meet the needs of changing customer expectations. Some parts of this evolution are clear. Digital trends that were evident before we entered the crisis have accelerated and will accelerate further.
``Post COVID-19, your business will hit the ground running only if you have invested in the latest technologies to reach your customers fast and if your business has established a strong digital presence``.
— Dana Farrugia
CEO - Tech.mt
On the brighter side, remember that change creates opportunity. Businesses who act now and take a proactive approach to their changing markets will ensure survival and success.
As the Government rolls out incentives to fight the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, I encourage you to invest in digital assets that will help your business become sustainable and future proof. Re-financing and business strategy modelling should not only include managing debt or reallocation of finances but also an investment in digital solutions that will become one of your most valuable assets once the pandemic is over. Post COVID-19, your business will hit the ground running only if you have invested in the latest technologies to reach your customers fast and if your business has established a strong digital presence. It is a path that would have been taken anyway but now the pace has to be accelerated substantially.
Digitisation might just be a buzz word that many businesses aspire to undertake, but when faced with reality, it can be tough to implement while conducting business as usual. The pandemic has forced short-term adaptation however, this should be viewed as a leap towards digital transformation, leading to more flexibility to customers and employees and potentially opening new revenue opportunities.
Our team at Tech.mt invites you to reach out to further explore how we can assist you to fulfil your business goals. We continuously drive research and market intelligence on the global tech community, thereby understanding market demand, consumer opinions and risks. This allows us to assist companies to distinguish their brand from their competitors and commercialise their vision more sustainably and become more resilient to this crisis.