I had a very interesting conversation at lunch today.  We were talking about how much society has changed with the introduction of a pandemic in 2020 and how while it is likely with the newly deployed vaccine we may see some return to normalcy, it is not likely that life will return to the complete normal we once knew.  As part of the conversation, we discussed how much technology has changed with regards to how people do business.

This pandemic caused a number of changes in corporate America with many employees moving to a work at home environment, causing a culture shock through a number of industries.  Corporate society became dependent on virtual meeting software which saw rapid advancements in technology as well to allow for better utilization of this service in our day to day business lives.

Also the retail & restaurant experiences changed significantly.  During the initial months of the pandemic, many cities went into full lockdown and many businesses had to scramble to develop new ways to service their customers.  Service programs such as DoorDash and Instacart saw booms to their business.  Many restaurant owners has to modify how they did business by offering take out and curbside as they were not allowed to have in person dining.  As restrictions lessened and retail stores started to be allowed to service customers again, many moved slowly to reopen their stores and instead opted to use online ordering and curbside delivery.

Even though we have seen continued relaxed restrictions across the nation, many business are still utilizing these processes as the pandemic has changed how we think about shopping.  Online retailers such as Amazon saw significant utilization during the holiday season and meanwhile, brick and mortar stores are starting to disappear along and shopping malls are seeing declines. 

Contactless interaction is becoming the new normal with more stores adding in self check out lanes.  Amazon has developed a process in their new grocery store, Fresh, that allows the customer to simply add an item to their cart and a computer system automatically rings it up for them when it's added and subtracted from the bill if it's removed.  They are then charged once the cart leaves the store.  Sam's Club has had a similar process where you can scan items from their app as you go through the store and then you simply check out from the app and show your digital receipt to the employee at the door.  This is technology I do not see going away but rather increasing.  I see a day when there are no more cashiers ringing up your items, where there are no waiters taking your order as it's all done through an app.  While it's the society we live it, it's a disturbing thought that these time honored jobs could very well be in jeopardy.

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