2021: A NEW YEAR AND A NEW DECADE OF OPPORTUNITIES

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January 1, 2021 not only marks the beginning of a new year but also the beginning of a new decade! It is difficult to predict what the 2020s will bring but there are a few things that are certain, we are starting out from a year that challenged us all. We learned not to take things for granted, to always be flexible enough to pivot and have an open mind. We learned that making long term business plans is only an exercise in diligence but it is not a guaranteed road to success and we also learned that sometimes you have to abandon the status quo and your comfort zone and adopt new technology fast!

Many businesses failed financially in 2020, especially those that relied on face-to-face transactions. But also at the individual-human level we have all suffered the consequences of a lock-down, our daily routines shattered. The walk to the coffee shop in the morning, the lunch with friends and even that trip you were waiting for overseas, are all basically gone overnight. I am sure many are facing or will face psychological or mental health consequences of this pandemic.

On the technology side, those who were ready to capitalize on the new way of doing business online did and those who were not ready had to rush to add features or security improvements and scalability became a big problem that had to be tackled with urgency. We came to rely heavily on virtual meeting platforms to communicate, be it on Zoom, Teams, Google Meet or other platforms. They were no longer nice-to-haves but became a daily necessity.

In essence and in my opinion 2020 accelerated our ability to change, to gain new perspectives quickly and to accept catastrophic events as new realities. We are living in times where Black Swan events may be the new normal. It seems as if 2020 was the entrance exam for the next decade to come, a test in human resiliency from which there is no choice but to come out with a passing grade.

2021 marks the start of a new decade with a few things that appear somewhat clear; a vaccine for COVID-19 in the near future, the start or growth of businesses that use technology to their advantage, especially those that embrace change and have a knack for adopting it. People also now have a better appreciation for the world around us, for the freedom to move freely across boundaries, for our environment.

Also, advances in artificial intelligence and data management, aeronautics, in fact in all sciences or technologies are inevitable; The year 2021 will see space tourism approach reality, low altitude satellite Internet services more widespread even in remote locations. A new appreciation for traveling and a re-invented hospitality industry, will emerge with a tendency for more quality and less quantity, and a resurgence of eco-tourism and small group travel.

Of course, there are countless areas of progress I cannot speak about and will leave to the experts. One thing though is certain, how successful we are in the next decade will depend on how well we adapt to the new normal, how much priority we give to education, how skilled we are at choosing the right people for government and other key roles that require leadership and vision. Ultimately this success will also depend on each of us and how much effort we put forth to get us through.

The Writer is the President of the Board of Advisors for Global Chamber Costa Rica. He is a professional technologist with over twenty years of experience leading technology teams building products for active traders and investors in the financial trading and securities markets both in the US and Japan.

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