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Apple was the only Fortune 50 company to foresee COVID-19 pandemic risk and properly insure against it – Forrester

Nugget nestled in report on how outbreak will change the tech biz

Apple was alone among corporate giants in foreseeing the pandemic risk in the run-up to the global COVID-19 outbreak, according to analysis by research firm Forrester.

As part of a report that predicts the continuing rise of blockchain, robotic process automation and Kubernetes among the technology responses to the pandemic, Forrester also looked at how organisations are set to change their approach to operational and technological risk.

"COVID-19 wasn't a black swan; any infectious disease expert could have told you a pandemic was inevitable. Yet when we reviewed the Fortune 50's current 10-K reports, we saw that while 50 per cent mentioned a pandemic in their risk profiles for investors, they classified it as an 'act of God'. Only Apple had insured the downside," it said.

As Cupertino noted in its annual report for the year ended September 29, 2018, "should major public health issues, including pandemics, arise, [Apple] could be adversely affected by more stringent employee travel restrictions, additional limitations in freight services, governmental actions limiting the movement of products between regions, delays in production ramps of new products and disruptions in the operations of the Company’s suppliers and contract manufacturers."

Attitudes among all vendors will change as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has swept across the world and infected nearly 15 million people, accounting for 613,000 deaths.

Forrester said it sees firms bringing "islands" of risk management in cybersecurity, IT, and operations under the umbrella of "ERM" – enterprise risk management. Firms will invest in supply chain risk management, intelligence, mapping, and visibility while CIOs create a "dependable-by-design approach for all IT services, regardless of hosting model or location" in the medium term, the report said.

Forrester also sees an acceleration of current trends and the promotion of certain technologies in IT's response to the pandemic. Blockchain – often hyped, loved and loathed in the tech sector – will find a role in the new normal.

"Blockchain [and] distributed ledger technology-based networks will provide the foundation for a fundamental restructuring of multiparty processes (e.g. procurement; contracting; logistics; environmental, social, and governance reporting)," the report said of the pandemic's long-term impacts.

Forrester also sees the COVID-19 fallout boosting the increasing popularity of cloud-native technologies such as containers, microservices, and Kubernetes to offer public cloud speed and agility in hybrid and private cloud environments, "challenging the dominance" of hyperscalers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Meanwhile, companies likely to lead in the pandemic recovery will be those that get rid of technical debt fast. That means older point solutions and software that doesn't contribute to a company-wide approach, more or less. Those leaders "who accelerate digital and replatform in response to the crisis will enter the medium term with a robust digital operating platform (DOP) and the flexibility they'll need to adapt rapidly to seize new opportunities," according to the report The New, Unstable Normal: How COVID-19 Will Change Business And Technology Forever.

Elsewhere it detailed changes to business which IT teams will inevitably have to support.

"As values-based consumers question the ethics of the businesses they associate with and all experiences become digitally instrumented, new design practices will emerge that blend emotion and insights," it said.

Continuing in the vein of inspirational verbiage, the report claimed: "Firms that can convince consumers to buy into sharing more personal data, such as biometric or behavioural data, will deliver anticipatory experiences that predict their shopping, financial, and entertainment needs."

Whatever that means, we assume the smoke signals of buzzwords reaching senior management could result in more investment in databases, analytics and visualisations tools, as well as the qualified technologist to support them. ®

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