The digital future is now

Bruce Springsteen once wrote, “We’re living in the future and none of this has happened yet.” It seems that the world is changing before our eyes as COVID-19 has sent us all home and forced us and our institutions to change the way we operate overnight.

As Box CEO Aaron Levie pointed out on Twitter recently, we are seeing a level of digital creativity right now that we have never witnessed before, as people look for ways to stay connected and keep going in the face of a virus that has forced us all to be apart.

“The ingenuity we’re seeing right now is awesome. Airbnb offering virtual experiences. Chefs doing live cooking classes. Passover seders on video conference. Drive-in Easter services and churches shifting to streaming,” Levie tweeted recently.

Think about the changes we have seen since February, February! In the course of a couple of months, we have seen schools shift online for millions of students from K-12 to college and grad school. We have seen professors who didn’t use email suddenly teaching on Zoom.

We have seen companies move from a workflow designed around offices, to ones centered around video conferencing and cloud collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.

We have seen conferences a year in the planning move from the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas stage to the houses of executives, and we have seen these companies pivot on the fly in spite of contracts, in spite of months of planning, because they had to do it. They had no choice.

We have seen families separated for the holidays, for birthdays and funerals, for anniversaries and life’s ups and downs, suddenly coming together in FaceTime and Zoom to support and celebrate and mourn in the only way that the current situation allows: in a digital context.

We have seen all this and more, and what’s amazing is that we have done this rather seamlessly and without years of planning and training. We have simply adapted to our new digital reality because we had to.

We have demonstrated the power of the digital world through SaaS tools and the amazing resilience of cloud infrastructure, but we’ve also see the power of the human spirit. What we are witnessing right now in the world is pretty amazing, and we should stop for a moment and just appreciate it. Take a moment and consider that all of this technology has allowed our economy, our education and our emotional selves to keep going in an impossible situation.

The COVID-19 virus has pushed us collectively into a digital future, and it’s happening right now, not some day. Companies and people have gone through a 90-day flash digital transformation. If there is one positive thing we can take away from this crazy situation, it’s that we have embraced this digital world, and we are never turning back.