The Covid-19 pandemic took everything we thought we knew about the world – our relative safety, the ability to meet, work and travel with others, the substance of our daily lives – and threw it up in the air.
It is far from certain that every element of our previous lives will return, but equally clear that some things will – of necessity – become better, more convenient and cost-effective.
Take digital transformation. Changes that were happening slowly suddenly speeded up dramatically as we undertook almost every aspect of our lives from home.
As we stand on the brink of an unknown world, we can be sure of our ability to shape it to meet our new norms, to make greater use of digital connectivity and digital innovation to bring vast benefits to our everyday lives.
Before the pandemic, industry focus and innovation was steadily moving towards putting citizens at the centre of their digital lives. Now, new use cases have sped this process up, with technology and services being reimagined for a very different world, and with data being able to be shared in ways that are privacy, secure and consented.
Take contact tracing, for example – a term very few of us were familiar with a few months ago, but now part of the common vernacular. In times of covid, our very personal data – our precise interactions, where we visited, whose lives we crossed on a given day – has a clear societal value in terms of damping down and halting new infection spikes, for the good of us all. And so citizen-centric apps sprung up all over the world – over 40 countries, to date, are using them – providing an effective, smooth and efficient technological solution to something which takes much longer when done by humans.
But citizen centricity is not just something to pursue in times of trouble, it also has myriad other uses which can make individual lives better while also creating significant savings for organisations.
Health services, for example, are ripe for a solution that puts patients first, and gives them greater insight and control over their data and treatments. Large scale studies have shown that putting individuals at the centre of their healthcare needs – patient centricity – empowers them to improve their own health and wellbeing, as well as making it simpler to contribute to innovation and research.
A complementary shift to app-based services across all of our lives, made possible by advances in connected technologies, promises a transformational shift towards self-empowered health. Better for patients, more effective and efficient for healthcare providers - simply a better solution all round. As the development of data-based services speeds up, new solutions for existing solutions – or even emerging ones – can be in place within days.
The ability to generate and share data across many areas of our lives, from finances to shopping to music tastes, opens up a whole new world where services can be personalised, tailored to each of us for the best possible experience and outcome, and putting us truly at the heart of our digital experiences.
Enabling people to better manage their own health, finances and other key aspects of their lives digitally has a clear benefit during these socially distanced times, but also offers the chance to enhance the capabilities of society as a whole. A connected future is within our grasp, and we must seize the chance to push it into being, for the benefit of us all.