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Technology – The Great Connector During the Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant economic and social impacts. With resources stretched at all levels and across countries, many stakeholders have been actively involved in fighting the pandemic, with the private sector being right at the center of innovation. Organizations across the world have developed innovative technology-focused solutions to support governments, workforces, and communities. Public-private partnerships have been reshaped as societies recover and become more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive. The role of technology has become even more critical in the backdrop of this pandemic.

On Aug 26th 2021, a year and a half from the start of the pandemic, we heard from experts who examined questions around the transformative technology solutions that utilized digital as default to build support for governments, confidence for communities, and resources for small businesses and what people and economies need in this new beginning.

Over 1,250 people from TCS from around the world joined an engaging discussion with speakers; Robert Kane, VP & CCO, U.S. Public Services; Shekar Krishnan, Head, Retail U.K.; and Sowmya Rajagopalan, VP & Head of Travel, Transportation and Hospitalities, Americas. The session was moderated by Balaji Ganapathy, Chief Social Responsibility Officer, TCS.

The session explored 2 key areas with valuable insights emerging within them:

The role of transformative technology during the pandemic:

  • The pandemic has offered us a chance to convert adversity to opportunity, accelerating digital innovation, with industries adapting to the changing needs of the market and helping clients find ways to remain in business. The pandemic has also been an opportunity to reset and refocus on aspects like energy efficiency and sustainability, displaying agility in dealing with multiple constraints.
  • Organizations have had to shift their business models to remain relevant, with much of the changes being driven by digital technologies. The hotel and travel industry has adopted biometrics and contactless systems as an innovative approach to stay relevant and meet new consumer demands during the pandemic, while providing an enhanced customer experience.
  • The retail industry became an essential service throughout the pandemic, while simultaneously being forced to limit access due to lockdown protocols. Those without digital access and those from vulnerable populations were most impacted by these restraints, but through innovative thinking, apps were developed that allowed customers to book their slots for shopping, with the ability to shop for seniors or vulnerable members of the community, ultimately reducing contact and virus spread. 
  • Innovations that are being created for customers are directly impacting community. Technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics have been used to improve services within government systems, reduce the growing issue of fraud and ensure that those in need have access to the services they rely on. These systems have shown upwards of 15-27% improvement of proper benefits paid, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars per State saved.
  • The skills of the future are digital, involving Design Thinking, human centered design, agile prototyping and computational thinking. The ability to work across cultures, to be an entrepreneur, requires 21st century skills that are also provided by TCS’ CSR programs.


How public-private partnerships have built resilience in communities:

  • Despite greater online consumption, with e-commerce and trade becoming key, some communities still remain disconnected from digital access, creating issues in equitable growth and inclusive pathways. Without digital access, individuals, especially those in underserved communities, will face challenges in accessing economic opportunities as workers and consumers. This issue can be addressed through public-private partnerships to improve access and adoption of broadband services and digital literacy.
  • Understanding the needs of employers and skills that are lacking within the workforce will help us develop programs to fill this gap.
  • Collaborations between the public-private sector have been crucial in rebuilding communities and empowering people through digital inclusion. Private sector organizations need to work with local businesses to rebuild communities and empower people through digital inclusion, extending their knowledge and resources to help rebuild businesses.
  • TCS’ CSR programs provide a platform for these public-private partnerships to develop and grow, using TCS’ technology expertise combined with the knowledge and needs of our cross-sector customers and partners.

To learn more about the Digital Empowers program, read our Global Insights Report, Digital Empowers: Technology as a Catalyst for Empowering Communities

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