As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, digital has become our default mode for connecting with each other, from museums and theme parks to trade shows and education.

Craving visual connection with each other, video conferencing has replaced the phone call—at work, in school and between family and friends. This happened quickly. Within the month of April, not long after many people began working from home, Zoom reported that it saw more than 300 million people using its app, up from about 200 million at the beginning of the month.

Enriched Storytelling and Expanded Connections

Recognizing the power of digital technologies to enrich storytelling—and the need to find novel ways to connect with consumers--companies like Disney are planning to launch new virtual reality experiences. Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, for example, recreates the planet of Batuu from Galaxy’s Edge, taking the physical spaces at Disney properties and moving them into the digital realm by scanning the entire Black Spire Outpost park area. Using this as the baseline, Disney introduced additional gameplay, enabling users to interact with the space in a completely different way.

With the use of innovative technologies like machine learning and automation, companies are providing hyper-personalized consumer experiences.

One of the biggest disruptions during the pandemic has been to the travel industry. However, this has fostered the democratization of events, eliminating physical barriers of time and space and allowing for broader participation—for consumers and in the enterprise. For example, VentureBeat’s Transform attracted around 1,000 people to its in-person San Francisco event in 2019, but it earned triple the attendance to its virtual 2020 event.

Real estate is restrictive. Digital experiences give organizations greater freedom and flexibility to explore new immersive offerings.

No Going Back: Inclusion is the Way Forward

Without question, the pandemic has propelled this digital transformation. Even after we address the global health crisis of COVID-19, many of these changes will become permanent. There will be no going back from the “consumerization” of enterprise IT and the virtualization of consumer experiences.

While digital technologies and experiences have, in many respects, opened our world, there are still significant access challenges that remain for many. The promise of the digital world, while broad, still requires that we find ways for all to thrive in this new reality. Among the things COVID-19 reminded us is that we are all connected by the air we breathe and the space we share. Now we have work to do in order to foster global access within a default digital world.

About the Author

Mai Nguyen

Mai is an account supervisor based in San Francisco. She manages a wide range of PR activities, including media relations, content, events and social media, and has experience working with a variety of B2B and B2C technology companies, including companies in the smart transportation, telecom and fintech industries. Mai also works as a freelance writer in her spare time and has a deep understanding of what types of pitching angles resonate well with reporters.