The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the social lives of people around the world. It has also resulted in the worst-hit the global economy has taken in decades. We know that the Coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on the future of our economy and even our social lives but the degree of its social and economic effects is tough to predict in the current stage. People are not only concerned about the severe economic crisis caused by the virus, they also fear for the health of the global population. Due to the restrictions placed by governments around the world, many companies are already facing the risk of having to shut down businesses completely. Several companies are also restructuring their business operations entirely and adapting their work culture to suit the current global scenario. Currently, due to the restrictions on movement, more people are working from home than ever before.
The coronavirus crisis also poses a challenging economic situation for various digital companies. According to the DMEXCO Trend Survey, about 60% of digital decision-makers have reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on their company. However, some European companies have started to report a reversal of adverse effects. Over 70% of respondents (DMEXCO) have agreed that they think the pandemic will significantly accelerate the pace of digital transformation globally.33% (DMEXCO) of international digital entrepreneurs believe that the industry will gain economic benefits after the threat of the pandemic comes to an end. However, 25% (DMEXCO) of companies believe that some businesses will shut down entirely. They also believe that the companies that will survive this crisis will be stronger than ever before. However, only 19% (DMEXCO) of respondents expect COVID-19 to impact the long-term economy negatively.
How COVID-19 has accelerated digitization?
Since, the evolution of the digital era, the benefits of digitization across various industries have been discussed in great detail. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the advantages of digital transformation in real-time. Furthermore, the pandemic has accelerated both the adoption and pace of digitization exponentially. Following are some trends that have helped accelerate the pace of digitization in these time:
Remote Working: The advent of COVID-19 has created sudden shifts in the work environment for employees. Many companies had to adopt telecommuting to stay functional amidst the COVID-19 chaos. This has resulted in an uptrending demand for data centres and the adoption of cloud services. Telecommuting in the phase of lockdowns has created a high demand for collaborative tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.
Ed-Tech: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a grave impact on the education sector as well. Educational institutions came to a screeching halt owing to lockdowns with over 1.2 billion children out of the classroom around the globe.In such circumstances, teaching and learning has to transition to the online space. Though global ed-tech investments reached nearly US $18.66 billion in 2019 and was expected to reach $350 billion by 2025, the pandemic has catalyzed the evolution rather unexpectedly. COVID-19 has spiked the usage of virtual tutoring, online learning software, language apps, clearly exhibiting the advanced capabilities of technology in the education market. Ed-tech players such as UpGrad, Vedantu, CL Educate, Toppr, Simplilearn etc. have seen a sharp rise in new users.
Ecommerce: Market research during the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus reveal abrupt changes in consumer behaviours. The contagion has compelled consumers from all age groups to shop online, thus forcing e-commerce into the spotlight.
Additionally, lockdowns and restricted living have reduced store footfall causing an upsurge in eCommerce sales, particularly in grocery-related eCommerce. According to the Global Shopping Index, retailers saw a spike of 16% in digital traffic between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 (CIO). In the US, mobile activity grew by 28% and mobile phones represented 56% of total order share for Q1 2020 (CIO). The next economy is already taking shape and the absence of a drug for the Novel Coronavirus will continue to skyrocket the digital customer journey and eCommerce sales.
Telehealth: Telehealth is playing a vital role in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the pandemic has increased the reliance on telemedicine. Telehealth has made it plausible to deliver healthcare remotely, reducing pressure on medical staff. The virtual triage program powered by chatbots and video conferencing has enabled healthcare professionals to improvise and innovate their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 11% of American ICU beds are under telemonitoring. The adoption of telehealth in the US has saved the American hospital from getting overwhelmed during the crisis (Weforum).
How Will Coronavirus Change the Future of Digital Technology?
COVID-19 has already caused a massive disruption across most industries. Many businesses and organizations have already taken action to curb the spread of the virus. These actions could potentially play a significant role in the process of the transition of our society to a more digital society.
Here are the norms that can help speed up the process of adoption of digital technology:
- Reducing Disinformation – Social media companies are showing a lot of cooperation when it comes to tackling false information about the Coronavirus outbreak. Any search for “Coronavirus” on Facebook, Google, or Twitter, will direct one to the official sources of information. These companies are actively monitoring their sites and removing fake news. Such cooperation between social media companies and authorities can lead to other initiatives that can help us create healthy and safe digital societies.
- Virtualising Major Events – By virtualising major events like the World Bank meeting, the adoption of remote working technologies will significantly increase in the coming months. For companies that have employees working internationally, the cost of ensuring that their staff has reliable internet connections is far less than the cost of flying them out regularly. The applications that allow employees to participate in virtual meetings are more widely available.
- Data Transparency – The actions that have been taken recently by prominent tech companies show how data transparency can be beneficial for society. Singapore’s open government data has allowed them to map the outbreak and prevent its spread. Data Governance may come into action way sooner than expected.
- Artificial Intelligence in Science – The scientific response to COVID-19 has been extremely fast in recent weeks. This response was a result of advances in the artificial intelligence-based genome sequencing technology. Though there is limited information about the use of artificial intelligence to diagnose patients, countries such as China have already started using it.
- Driving Innovation – Many new innovations are emerging and providing technological solutions to problems faced by the public. A new smartphone application in Korea is alerting users when they are in an area where Coronavirus cases have been identified. Such innovations can be used to keep the public safe.
In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, the push towards the digitisation of clinical research has significantly increased. By implementing digital technologies such as remote monitoring of patients and databases to collect data from hospitals, we can prevent problems such as the one we are currently facing. It will also contribute to the conservation of the environment. Our highly connected digital economy has significantly helped many enterprises, workers, and consumers. They have been able to interact and carry on with their businesses, even as the pandemic continues to spread. The need for the digitisation of our society is more now than ever.
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