The disruptions forced on society and businesses in the past few months may well have upended business practises as we know them, but their impacts are likely to be felt by governments and business well into the future.

While this may be unsettling at first glance, there are great opportunities for businesses, including the smart use of artificial intelligence (AI), automation and upskilling of workforces to best adapt to the new normal, says acclaimed trend translate and future finance expert, Bronwyn Williams from Flux Trends.

Veeam Software hosted its first Veeam Africa Digital Transformation Masterclass Series webinar on 23 June, and featured Willaims, who talked the audience through the future of digital disruption.

The Veeam Digital Transformation Masterclass Series is tailored specifically for C-suite executives and other senior IT professionals in enterprise organisations, with a focus on digital transformation and its impact on business – a conversation which has become increasingly urgent given the current state of remote business practices during and post lockdown.

Williams, who has more than a decade’s experience in researching trends for businesses predominantly in the finance and B2B industries, presented the webinar masterclass titled Life after COVID-19 in the age of AI. She shared insights on the impact the sudden shift to more digital operations has had on businesses.

“While the disruptions of the past few months have undoubtedly upended life as we know it, both locally and around the world, they will leave a lasting impact on society, business, governments and the economy at large,” says Williams.

Williams believes that once we understand these trends, we can identify the threats and opportunities each of them present for businesses and industries. Some of the aspects covered included the likes of the contactless and cashless economy, digital security, bio-tracking and personal data security, staff surveillance, and the platform economy.

Williams suggested a variety of tips that will allow businesses to stay ahead of the digital disruption curve. These include promoting the idea of allowing AI jobs to be performed by robots thus allowing people to tackle the more human jobs, the redeployment of skills in a workforce, and how businesses can look to the “long now” instead of the “infinite present” – a situation where Williams suggests investing for the future is crucial to long-term business sustainability.

“Businesses are more reliant on digital infrastructure than ever before, but as the IT industry continues to grow at a relentless pace, there is an increasing reliance on digital and technical skills to deliver critical products and essential services.

Bronwyn emphasised the importance of skills and investing in the future, which is supported by our Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report as lack of skills to implement technology was one of the top challenges facing Middle East and African organisations over the next 12 months.

“The journey to digital transformation is about going from risk reduction to unleashing the possibility of the future, but investing and supporting a career in technology underpins all of this.  At Veeam it is our mission to support businesses in their digital transformation journey, providing a simple, flexible and reliable way to adapt to digital disruption, remain competitive and deliver new products and services to customers,” said Kate Mollet, Regional Manager, Africa at Veeam.