Technology’s impact on the work environment was profound well before the pandemic – streamlining processes, increasing productivity, and making remote work seamless.
Now, given the rapid changes in an uncertain economy affected by the virus, knowing how to utilize and navigate technology in the post-COVID world will be even more crucial for entrepreneurs, college graduates, other job seekers, and upwardly mobile professionals, says Tim Mercer, ForbesBooks author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business.
“Corporate America is undergoing a major transformation,” says Mercer, who also is founder of IBOX Global (IBOXG), which provides technology services to government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations.
“Technology is at the center of this seachange. The virus will have a tremendous long-term impact on the workplace, and the influence of technology will loom larger as a result of the lessons we’ve learned during this unprecedented time.
“Company structures are appearing more tailored to the entrepreneurial mind. The evolving trend is working from home, smaller workplaces, and niche-focused businesses. The work is moving faster, and whether a business owner or freelancer, you must be agile and nimble to compete. All these changes can be good, but only if you are ready.”
Mercer says the key to success in the post-COVID world is understanding these business-related benefits of technology:
- The internet is the great equalizer for knowledge and opportunity. “The internet is the driving force behind the access to today’s opportunities,” Mercer says. “With the global economy, and technology connecting so many of us to it simultaneously, success has more to do with your ability to identify the right opportunities and your desire to go after them.” While the internet enables someone to gain knowledge quickly, Mercer says it’s also important to be vigilant in discerning the quality of online sources.
- Leveraging technology correctly helps businesses run efficiently. You don’t need to earn a degree in information technology or become a computer whiz to leverage the benefits of technology, Mercer says. “What’s most important is that you know how to use technology to achieve your business goals,” he says. “For example, through the power of tools like QuickBooks, I was able to manage the financial aspect of several of my businesses without having to hire a full-time finance team. Leverage the strength of technology to carry more of your workload while increasing your profitability.”
- Tech certifications can be more powerful than four-year degrees. Many college graduates aren’t working in fields related to their majors, and today’s employers are increasingly shifting toward skills-based hiring for technology jobs. “With the demand in tech, that means certification programs are on the uptick, often providing a quicker and more cost-effective way of getting hired than does a four-year college degree,” Mercer says. “A person’s overall earning powers in tech can more than double. Our general educational system often doesn’t meet the demands of today’s business environment. Typical college grads and most students lack the skills required for today’s tech positions.”
- Freelancing and independent consulting are on the rise. Gigging – taking on multiple freelance jobs – is growing in popularity, largely due to the growth in digital platforms and social media. “This has given rise to a freelancer and consulting boom that has opened the door to a more flexible and creative workforce of contractors to accommodate the heavy workflow of today’s companies,” Mercer says. “The power of social media and online platforms is making it easier for entrepreneurs to engage a more diverse and global market. You can use your individual skills to bring more value to your business simply by selling those skills and services to others.”
“Technology has a hugely important role in enabling us to meet the many economic and business challenges presented by the pandemic,” Mercer says, “and to be better prepared for whatever comes next.”
Tim Mercer is the founder of IBOXG, a company that provides technology services and solutions to government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations. He also is the ForbesBooks author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business. Mercer was inspired to pursue a career in IT as a consultant after he became a telecom operator while in the U.S. Army. After growing up in difficult economic circumstances in the rural South, Mercer achieved success as an entrepreneur, then recovered from the financial crisis of 2007-2008 after starting IBOXG. The company has accrued over $60 million in revenues since its inception in 2008.