As published in Forbes

To say 2020 has been a year of learning would be an understatement. Across every industry without exception, organizations and their executive leadership have had to reevaluate their core offerings, workplace culture, external and internal communications, and fundamental approach to supporting an economy that has been completely upended. With a global pandemic that spread so quickly across borders, their adaptability became a deciding factor in how successful they would ultimately be. Of course, this is on top of their willingness to accelerate technology adoption to help them survive.

Looking back on this turn of the decade, which will undoubtedly be reflected on for many years to come, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to share insight on my own experience as one of these executives. At Lightspeed, we have empowered small and medium-sized businesses since our inception. When the pandemic hit, we were agile with our innovations and immediately ensured our customers around the world were equipped with the right tools to digitally transform and open new revenue streams. We also saw how this gave consumers the opportunity to stimulate their own communities.

Technology has immense power to stabilize society or create “new norms” for the businesses we rely on most. With that in mind, here are three valuable lessons in technology that we can carry into the New Year.

Tech is meant to be future-proof.

For a business to succeed, it needs to invest in technology that not only protects its company from any potential future challenges, but has the ability to actively forecast evolving consumer habits. This way, when a company needs to meet new demands, it has the necessary technology to sustain its business and push through creative and efficient sources of income.

It’s not just about having a contingency plan; it’s about thinking meticulously about where consumers are headed. Consider what they’ll want in two years — even five years — and then evaluate what capabilities you’ll require to provide products or services that surpass those desires.

At my company, we’ve been pioneering omnichannel commerce for the past many years. This is an example of what used to be considered a “nice to have” but is now a “must-have” and a lifeline for businesses with the onset of Covid-19.

Tech needs to be agile and easy to implement.

A business should always be forecasting its needs, but if there is anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that not everything can be predicted. I don’t think a year ago any of us imagined a global pandemic. Therefore, technology overall needs to be agile — it must have the capabilities to quickly and simply adapt when something so forcefully disrupts the status quo.

Certain software undoubtedly can take years to craft, but the central properties of such technology should be simple to amend. When we need to adjust, we should be able to do so immediately. As founder and CEO of my company, I’ve made a point to closely integrate myself in development, dedicating time to work on the ground with our product teams so I can play an active role in this process. By developing our core offerings with this in mind, we’ve been able to support our customers in imaginative ways. 

Tech companies can be leaders of change.

I’ve seen firsthand that technology companies can lead change by making way for collaborative and diverse voices. Since its foundation, my company has championed diversity and inclusion in the workplace, which has been instrumental in sparking creative thinking and innovation. Today, this philosophy ripples through every level of the company. These values should be considered across every industry, and if our leaders show value for inclusivity, their followers will take notice.

If tech innovations are done right, they can also drive positive change and support our economy. By presenting effective tools, we can equip businesses of all types and sizes to combat external pressures and come out ahead, drawing consumers to spend money where desired and boost the economy.

Putting aside my own experience, we have to realize that the world’s most influential technology leaders are shaping our future. Each of us has a responsibility to use our platforms for good and shine a light on today’s pressing matters so we can use our expertise to tackle them head-on.

If not already, our country’s business leaders should be considering all these crucial teachings moving into 2021. We don’t know what the year will bring, but if 2020 is any indication, then we must create our own compass to navigate uncertainty. There is no telling what technology can accomplish.