From the Editor

Some 80 years ago, World War II transformed society forever, shaping the development of the next century in thousands, if not millions of different ways. Technology, culture and social norms were all shaped by the event, with the modern world’s foundations firmly entrenched in the conflict.

Now, we are in the midst of an event that will similarly shape the next century. While the circumstances are radically different, the global nature of the coronavirus pandemic, and the upheaval to people’s day-to-day lives, is similar. And as with World War II, the coronavirus will impact aspects of technology, society and culture in a myriad of ways, many of which are impossible to predict at this distance.

We are in the midst of the painful birth of a new, more technological age, and nothing is going to be the same again. And amid the chaos, companies are attempting to adapt; to prepare themselves for what is to come. Because this is not about the new normal – it may not always feel like it, but that is changing on a near daily basis. What we must deal with now is the future normal, and the road there is rocky and deeply uncertain.

In this, the latest issue of Verdict Magazine, we don’t pretend to have all the answers – we haven’t even begun to discover all the questions yet – but we are exploring how things are changing, and what businesses can do to remain afloat in one of the most uncertain and chaotic periods in living memory.

“What we must deal with now is the future normal, and the road there is rocky and deeply uncertain.”

Technology has played an invaluable role to coronavirus response, so it is perhaps no surprise that the event is accelerating the emergence and adoption of many technologies under the industry 4.0 umbrella. We explore how this is going to play out, and why businesses that fail to embrace digital transformation will struggle to survive.

For many, what it means to be at work has also been turned upside-down, and now the prospect of a return to the conventional 9-5 seems almost unimaginable. So what will change, and will businesses embrace this disruption to the office itself?

There is also the matter of retail and hospitality, sectors that have been sorely hurt by the coronavirus. For small businesses in this space, technology has been a lifeline during lockdowns, but can this continue when society emerges from its homes?

For many, the concept of Zooming has gone from an unknown quantity to a weekly occurrence within the past few months, but for Zoom there have also been serious security concerns and PR challenges. We explore how the company responded to the issues, and maintained its position as lockdown king of communication.

Despite the dominance the coronavirus has had on events, there are also trends and technologies that remain present, and which should be paid attention to – they may not involve the coronavirus, but their presence will certainly be felt in the years following it.

We speak to a host of key companies in this position, from mind-reading Neurosity and food waste-fighting Too Good To Go to Autodesk’s focus on generative design. Plus, there are new tech players rising too, such as the digital-first nation of Estonia, a force to be reckoned with in the post-coronavirus, tech-enhanced aged.

A new world is forming, with technology at its core. And we will be here to help you navigate its emergence.

Lucy Ingham