What role should IT play in a post-COVID world?

By Chris Herrmann*
Monday, 01 June, 2020

What role should IT play in a post-COVID world?

After months of disruption and unease, we seem to be entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, what exactly that phase is depends on who you ask, and where you are in the world… or indeed, within Australia.

This uncertainty is perhaps as damaging to the economy as the actual lockdown. I don’t think anyone can accurately state that they know what will happen next. Questions such as Will there be another outbreak in NSW?, When will they develop a vaccine?, Is it actually safe to send my kids with medical condition (x) to school? and What’s up with geopolitics? really won’t be answerable for some time yet.

So how do people respond to this uncertainty? Some respond with frustration at the ongoing lockdowns, some with fear at the actual or perceived health risk, some respond with greed and others respond with everything else in between.

One thing is certain, however, and that is that we will be living in a world of change. But we in the IT world are used to that. IT has been the harbinger of change ever since computers became a thing. In today’s world it has enabled many of us to work in unprecedented ways — large segments of society have had to stay at (and work from) home. And it has gone well enough for the most part.

This shows that the IT world needs to reinforce its place as a bedrock that people and organisations can rely upon. Yes, we are an agent of change, but people need to know that they can rely on us to help them through that change. This can mean everything from providing reliable systems, good quality support, solving problems, finding new ways for people to work and keeping people safe… in the real world and online.

Yet to borrow some words from someone I spoke with recently, right now it feels as if our contributions are happening organically in a patchy kind of way… and the wider public is largely unaware of the ways in which we are helping. We’re almost invisible.

So my question to you and to all IT folks is, in a post-COVID-19 world, what do we think should be IT’s role in:

  • Privacy
  • Innovation
  • Education
  • Reskilling and training
  • Health care
  • Personal relationships and communications
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport

IT has a finger in all of these pies, of course. Indeed, it has become indispensable to all of them. Which is why it is so important that each of us as individuals, and the industry as a whole, has a clear picture not only of IT’s current role and responsibilities, but also of the part it should play in helping society recover from COVID-19 and set the pace for future stability. In this enterprise, should we be leaders or followers?

As agents of change, I feel that it is our responsibility to contribute positively to society, using our knowledge and skills to help keep people and systems safe, while endeavouring to enhance lives and livelihoods, now and into the uncertain future.

*Chris Herrmann is President of the Information Technology Professionals Association.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/REDPIXEL

Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) is a not-for-profit organisation focused on continual professional development for its 18,700 members. To learn more about becoming an ITPA member, and the range of training opportunities, mentoring programs, events and online forums available, go to www.itpa.org.au.

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