Last spring, I wrote about our entry into the first phase of COVID-19 pandemic with sheltering in place to slow the spread. That went reasonably well for a couple of months, but the natives got restless and now we are breaking new case and death numbers every day, in every corner of the U.S. In fact, our country is leading in nearly every category. We have a new president-elect that has his plate very full right now with getting a COVID plan in place as his first priority. At this point I’m not sure that much can be done now except to “ride it out” as we wait for a vaccine and herd immunity to kick in. On the good news front, as I am writing this, there is talk of a several good vaccines being widely available to the U.S. general public by the end of March. Other countries are on the verge of the same great news.
I’m sure that by now most of you are “Zoom-zapped,” weary of all those online video calls. Well over 90% of my human interactions the past several months has been via Zoom. Everything from business meetings to happy hours are now conducted online. I’ve been able to break out by taking four trips away from home since March, all of them in a very COVID-wary fashion. Other than that, it has only been the occasional trip out for supplies and the daily trip to the mailbox out front!
Has anyone besides me noticed how time moves differently? Every week starts with me wondering how I will make it through the week and then all of a sudden – its Friday! I do find that the lack of deadlines for certain actions driven by travel tend to make me defer projects, as motivation is different or missing.
Fortunately, in the VITA community, we have not experienced any significant changes in business. Standards are still being developed and new products and design wins are announced at a normal pace. VITA standards meetings since March have been virtual and well attended while also being very productive. Members find it easier to participate, especially when all parties are virtual. The face-to-face aspect is still greatly missed in maintaining existing friendships and developing new relationships. Some things are just very difficult to do in a virtual environment, despite some of the clever things that virtual event tools are innovating to engage participants.
I previously contemplated: “What will business look like when we emerge on the other side? Will we snap back to the old ways of doing business or will we see a substantial bump in the use of technology to conduct our lives?” I know that everyone is anxious to get back to life as we previously knew it, but I also am more convinced that much of it will never be the same. The video technology available today has demonstrated that a lot of routine business travel can easily be replaced with a video conference. Even many office meetings with everyone in the building can be done more productively in a virtual world.
Several companies have come out and stated that more employees will be encouraged, even required, to work from home. Brick and mortar will be replaced by green screens and virtual backgrounds. The travel industry is going to have to adjust their model for the potential shift between business and leisure travel.
I’ve had to make the decision to not hold our annual Embedded Tech Trends event in January. This industry forum gave us the chance to network and share ideas for the coming year. Networking was the primary focus but because of all the restrictions on travel it has become clear that it will not be possible to accomplish the desired goals for the 2021 event. We’ll definitely be back in 2022 – I’m already scouting suitable venues. In addition, the VITA org hopes to be back hosting face-to-face standards meetings by July 2021: Our destination in Dallas has been booked!
Next year is the 40th anniversary of the introduction of VMEbus. The wheels are spinning for ideas on possible ways to celebrate this great milestone. Hopefully, we will be back close enough to normal to allow us to celebrate this milestone in style!
Stay healthy, stay safe.