The Impact of COVID-19 on Tech Development and Adoption

In March 2020, just a few weeks into the first lockdown, McKinsey published an article that said, “recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks. Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams…grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery …schools in many locales have pivoted to 100 percent online learning and digital classrooms.” The New York Times reported that the NHS had seen a decade of technological change in the course of a week. Fortune wrote: “the pandemic has only accelerated the head-spinning pace of technological change.” The Economist called it “techceleration.”

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on tech innovation, development, and adoption among businesses, consumers, and the medical community. It has profoundly changed sectors such as retail and financial services. But as we begin to come out of lockdown here in the UK, which of these technologies and trends are here to stay, and which are likely to fall by the wayside? Which services, applications, and devices failed to gain traction despite high expectations?

Our event explored these questions from four perspectives: consumer, enterprise, health, and retail/e-commerce.

Our panel was moderated by Audrey Mandela, WiTT Chair. She was joined by:

  • Melissa Bane – Managing Director, Europe, Grail Insights;
  • Catherine Davies, Managing Partner, Monticle;
  • Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst , Enterprise Services |Service Provider & Communications | Omdia; and
  • Alexandra Rehak, Associate Director, Technology Strategy at Cambridge Consultants.

You can watch a video of the event here:

Here are PDFs of our speakers’ presentations.

Catherine Davies presentation WiTT COVID-19 event 19 May 2021

Melissa Bane presentation WiTT COVID-19 event 19 May 2021

Camille Mendler presentation WiTT COVID-19 event

Alexandra Rehak presentation WiTT COVID-19 event 19 May 2021

Chair and Panelist biographies

Panel Chair
Audrey Mandela
Chair, Women in Telecoms & Technology / Co-Founder, Multimap /Independent Consultant / Angel Investor

Audrey Mandela is chair of Women in Telecoms & Technology (WiTT), a networking group for women in the sector. She also runs Mandela Associates, which provides market research and consulting services for select clients in the telecom, internet and geographical information sectors.

Audrey was Co-Founder of Multimap, one of the world’s leading online mapping providers, where she acted as the company’s corporate counsel and marketing director, and was a board director. Multimap was acquired by Microsoft in December 2007.

Audrey was formerly Senior Vice President, International, for the Yankee Group, one of the industry’s leading IT research firms. As Senior VP, Audrey was responsible for managing the Yankee Group’s research, consulting and sales activities in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Audrey is also a member of the advisory board of Angel Academe, an angel network that focuses on investments in women-led businesses; a member of the TEDxCouncil and an advisor for TEDxLondonBusinessSchool; a non-executive director on several tech start-ups; and a board director for Wedu, a charity that mentors and supports young women leaders from underserved communities in Southeast Asia.


Melissa Bane
Managing Director
Grail Insights

Melissa is the Managing Director of Grail Insight’s European business. Melissa has over 25 years of experience ranging from market research and strategy consulting to Fortune 500 companies to founding and managing marketing for award-winning software companies. She specializes in helping companies build growth strategies and translate data into actionable decisions.
Melissa previously managed the Internet Market Strategies practice for the Yankee Group in Boston, advising consumer goods, technology and financial services clients on ecommerce strategies, growth planning and M&A.

Melissa then went on to co-found Altio, a London based software company, where she raised over $15 million in financing and grew the company’s presence across the US. In addition to her executive management role, she was responsible for marketing strategy, product positioning and market development.

Melissa later led marketing for software company Nexaweb in Cambridge, MA, where she managed the company’s corporate communications, product positioning, market intelligence and go-to-market strategies. Before joining Grail, Melissa consulted with Fortune 500 clients such as Microsoft, HP and IBM on competitive intelligence, strategic insights and product strategy in the US and Europe.

Melissa has grown Grail’s European operations from inception to now serve some of the leading consumer, technology and ecommerce brands in the UK and Europe. She leads a team of consultants and researchers to advise FTSE 100 clients on insights and strategy.
She has been profiled in the Financial Times and regularly quoted in publications such as the New York Times, The Washington Post and Wired.


Catherine Davies
Managing Partner

Over the last 11 years Catherine Davies has supported the NHS to give patients consistently safe, high quality, compassionate care within local health systems. She has held executive level positions in Monitor, the health regulator, and its precursor organisation. Catherine was delighted to be featured in the Heath Service Journal top 100 people with the greatest influence on health policy and the NHS. She now advises NHS organisations and healthcare businesses directly.

Catherine helps innovative companies to partner with the NHS. Her vast experience working in the public and private sectors and with all parts of the NHS in England enables her to offer a unique set of perspectives and connections. She is also a passionate advocate for a better gender balance in the health eco system and is about to launch a podcast – the Women In HealthTech Show

Catherine is on the board of Reform, a leading Westminster think tank and an Expert in Residence for the Women of Wearables network. Catherine began her career as a corporate lawyer with a global law firm in London.


Camille Mendler
Chief Analyst , Enterprise ServicesService Provider & Communications

Camille Mendler has more than 25 years’ multi-disciplinary experience in the digital economy and a global remit to anticipate key shifts in B2B demand patterns with a current focus on how 5G is disrupting enterprise ecosystems.

Her consultancy projects solve go-to-market challenges: identifying buyer segments, creating effective value propositions, and determining sales channel mix. Areas of expertise include managed and professional services, cloud and SaaS, and private networks.

During her tenure at Omdia, Camille has launched SoHo and SME and Enterprise Verticals intelligence services. She serves as a judge for the GSMA’s GLOMO Awards and TM Forum’s Excellence Awards.

Camille has advised organizations including the International Telecommunications Union, Open Society Foundations and World Bank. She has also worked as a telecom contract negotiator, expert witness in dark fiber matters, and technology journalist.

Camille won a research fellowship in Russian Area Studies from Georgetown University and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Russian from Northwestern University.


Alexandra Rehak
Associate Director, Technology Strategy
Cambridge Consultants

Alexandra is a senior member of the Technology Strategy team within the Wireless and Digital Services division at Cambridge Consultants. Her role is supporting clients from the tech and enterprise sectors with strategic and technical advice on digital transformation and innovation. Her current focus areas include digital services business models, connected roadways and autonomy, and private networks. She was previously Chief Analyst and Head of IoT at Omdia/Ovum, and prior to that was Partner and Head of Research at telecoms consultancy Analysys Mason. She spent a significant portion of her career in Asia, where she ran her own consultancy in China and also held senior roles at PA Consulting Group, Motorola Corporate Strategy, and start-up