Society is likely to face a system overload, as coronavirus forces organisations to rapidly shift to remote digital working operations.
As the full force of the pandemic is felt over the coming months, we will be forced to depend on the digital economy to help keep our society and economy afloat.
Ideally, as long as we are digitally connected, we should be able to function in most respects, be it at work or in a personal social space.
However, my view is that we’re not ready for it at either a technological or skills level.
As more and more people are told to work from home, there’s going to be large numbers of people trying to organise meetings and other work related engagements through remote working digital technologies.
Our systems have never been tested to the scale they are likely to be.
How do we know that the IT and internet systems are going to cope with the surge?
Just think of the system overloads we see when large numbers of people rush to buy concert tickets and the system suddenly crashes.
There’s mass panic with shopping, but we’re told, ‘don’t worry, if it comes to a point where we are closing the physical shops, we can deliver and there’s no problem.’
But can we really be assured of this, there’s so many unknowns – will IT systems for processing orders be able to cope with thousands of people suddenly online, trying to make these orders?
From a skills perspective, the majority of us still operate predominantly at a face to face level.
You’re organised in that particular way, if suddenly you’re uprooted and put in an entirely digitally dependent working space, that’s when you suddenly realise, oops, actually, you know, I am out of my depth.
It’s going to be a case of people sitting at home trying to get this technology working, having to keep ringing support but not being able to reach them because their work is equally disrupted.
I think in the short term we need to be realistic about what can be done and focus on the essentials, while in the background we work on the non-essentials.
Organisations, businesses, government departments, etc should not be promising business as usual.
This is the wrong message that we’ve been receiving from all corners.
Instead, I think it’s a realistic promise to say we will do our best to meet the essential services today in the short term, as we continue to work out the long term solutions.