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You’re muted!

Innovation spurred by the pandemic

You’re muted! Over the last two years, that phrase was said at least once a day for everyone jumping on a zoom or some other video service to try to continue business as un-usual while Covid 19 barreled thru the world. For a moment, when Covid first presented itself as an enormous threat, we all stopped, unsure of what to do. Then we began to adapt new ways of existing, working and connecting. Resilience and innovation began to take over the fear of doing nothing and being consumed by the contagious beast.

We saw this on every level. Vaccines were being developed at an unprecedent pace, we were video conferencing with work, friends, family and even our doctors. This was our new norm. Grocery stores became online shopping experts and new services began to pop up to address the growing need. Post it notes were replaced by Miro and Mural boards and collaboration increased instead of declining.

It was also hard, students as young as five had to stare at a screen to learn. Parents were teachers as well as executives and physical service industries like restaurants and gyms were hit hard. But we survived and through it all we developed new ways of working and being. It turns out that as we begin to leave severe Covid behind, we also want to leave some of our old ways of doing things. You see change always drives innovation.

Employees are demanding to work remotely and use the tools we relied on during the worst days of covid. Businesses are looking at the future of work. What will offices become? Today the office monuments seem like a tired old artifact. Employees want something different.

New tools and new ways of working and learning are being adapted and used. As we enter the era of the Metaverse these new attitudes are bringing new ideas, new business and new ways of doing things. There is massive research spending by large and small companies to understand how we will use the metaverse. We do know now that people will interact in digital spaces. They can game, work, learn and of course spend money there.

Citigroup predicts that the market value of the metaverse will reach $8 trillion to $13 trillion by 2030. That means a lot of innovation. Things we can’t even imagine today! But as we learned during the pandemic, we can adapt, learn new ways of doing things and keep moving forward.

So, hold on to your hat or your avatar, it is going to be a wild ride.

Doreen Lorenzo is Assistant Dean, School of Design and Creative Technologies and Professor of Practice at the University of Texas at Austin

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