Let us not forget the fact that there has been talk for almost a decade of huge changes to come. We need to admit that we liked to think that this could happen but that the “threats” of digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence completely changing our society and our way of life mainly apply to the front line, i.e. to jobs where information technologies have already asserted themselves. They will be the ones who will need to adapt and in doing so probably make sure that the transition is smooth for the rest of us. This means that there is no reason to act just yet.
Such expectations were crushed by COVID-19 with a single blow (or two). All of a sudden, a significant share of the population is in danger and no one knows what consequences the lockdown will have for the economy. The public purse is not bottomless and state help will not be available indefinitely. Once the situation starts improving for the economy and the markets come to life again, we will be faced with new winners. As we can read in the papers written by DOBA Business School teachers, we can look for these winners among those who use these times of crisis to adapt and prepare for the future.
We knew that the need to adapt will arise; however, we did not know that it would appear so suddenly and strongly. We need to be aware that this does not apply only to company management but very much so to individuals. It is a requirement that we need to understand and implement if we wish to maintain our standard of living and economic security, i.e. try to understand the trends of adapting and acting – how to further improve our expertise, which competencies will be required tomorrow, and how to increase the level of our digital skills.
I believe that the students and teachers at our school, which leads the way in online learning, are better at understanding and accepting the fact that digitalisation has made a great entrance coming into our businesses and life and will continue to stay in our operations and especially communication. The latter will be easier and faster and will substantially cut operating costs, e.g. of business travel expenses. Furthermore, education and training will never again return to the previous conventional level. There will almost not be a field that would not be forced to at least combine conventional education with online learning.
Let us try to take a deep look at ourselves. For many people, the never-ending lockdown of the economy, and especially of social life, has tremendous negative effects on the frame of mind. All types of socialising, receiving information from our circle of friends, and sharing our enthusiasm during large events have all of a sudden been cut down and cancelled. This is especially painful for people who are used to recharging in contact with society, culture, and other events.
However, even from this viewpoint, a possibility to adapt to the current situation does exist. In this respect, I am not talking about the strong individuals who tell us how they are even benefiting from isolation, as surrounded by the dynamics of life, which we have got used to, they have been unable to be in contact with themselves and their loved ones. I am talking about the broader population who is unable to get out of the vicious cycle of isolation. However, now is the opportunity to at least slightly fill the gap of books having to make way for much faster (and often superficial) forms of knowledge. This is corroborated not only by the fact that younger generations read less and less but also by the position held by various conspiracy theories in new media. The feeling that we are completely alone can be substantially mitigated by spending time with renowned authors (even the national and not really fully read yet) who fill up our bookshelves. They can help us learn how people and their destinies have faced the difficult moments in their lives. A friend from a book is much more personal and his opinion undoubtedly not worth less than that of countless Facebook “friends” and instant influencers. Moreover, they can show us how in the end people have always found the path to good. And this will be one of the essential conditions for being able to move on once the worst passes.