The global COVID-19 pandemic has already caused the most overwhelming world crisis in many dozens of years – maybe a century. It spreads violently and has already infected more than a million and a half people in more than 200 countries. The world has used extreme and unprecedented measures to suppress the pandemic.
Still, no matter how trite, the statement about the crisis as the time of opportunities remains true. Global world crises always led to giant leaps in scientific and social development. We can already state that the IT-sphere will get a significant boost.
But it won’t be as easy. This sphere is not untouchable – it suffered from the COVID-19 crisis as well. The prospects of the industry depend on how well it can respond to the social and business demands. No predictions work without considering all factors, both positive and negative.
The Coronavirus Hardware Troubles
The major blow from the COVID-19 crisis concerned the hardware production. The world’s most influential IT brands depend on Chinese plants, but China was the first victim of coronavirus. The Chinese government introduced the first severe quarantine to tame the infection. It results in “shutdowns” of plants and whole cities.
In the global world, the ruining of supply chains does the most damage. Apple suppliers can’t fulfill their duties due to the quarantine. Thus, the new iPhone won’t enter the market as planned. But Apple is not the only example. All brands relying on Chinese manufacturers are in the same boat.
Two more problems cause a headache. First – people forcedly staying at home want more devices to entertain themselves, but many warehouses are empty. Did you ever think of the iPad shortage? At the same time, brands doubt if they should increase production. The new financial crisis will reduce people’s possibilities to buy new devices. We have additional problems in logistics, as many ports can’t accept and process the deliveries.
The way coronavirus is spreading the world makes it senseless to move production to other regions. The USA has already got more damage than China. All countries are affected. The only solution for the world is to wait until the end of the pandemic.
With software development, the situation seems to be better.
Professional events cancelation and the ways to compensate it
Together with the big movies’ premiers and sports tournaments, major IT-related events got in limbo too. International congresses and summits always attracted many thousands of visitors. Companies representatives received excellent opportunities to network, make agreements, and share experiences.
Now, major players like Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft, had to reset their priorities. The giant Mobile World Congress (MWC) has been canceled, and many other events were closed, postponed, or moved online. The necessity to keep the people safe was the reason, no matter the direct economic losses (approximately $1 billion so far).
Currently, we have the Microsoft Build, Apple’s WWDC, and many cybersport tournaments in the “online-only” format. This format lacks the possibility of in-person communication with the industry’s experts, but it makes these events more accessible. All those people who never had a chance to visit them, can watch the conferences and join the online discussions. The virtual format can become regular when the quarantine is over.
Digital Healthcare in time of pandemic
The tendency to involve more digital remote means in healthcare is not anything new. It is beneficial for all participants. Consumers get access to quality consultations, while hospitals can focus on more urgent and complicated cases.
The coronavirus outbreak made the need for remote consultations even more burning. The number of people infected by COVID-19 in the USA is continually growing, and they need professional help. Thus, medics need reliable means of RPM – remote patient monitoring. Most infected people are in mild conditions, and medical assistance can come in the form of consultations.
The thing in demand is tracking the patients’ vitals online. It is possible – there are digital biosensors to provide the most relevant data. Then AI-based analytical tools will process these data. Many of them were in the design stage. Some elements were in usage. But the healthcare field needs them all, as many as possible.
One more actual trend is instant access to the latest updates on medical issues. The world fights the coronavirus pandemic together, and specialists need the newest information about the disease and ways of treatment. These measures are necessary now, and they will remain required after the end of the crisis.
Remote Work: How to work from home and remain productive
When the coronavirus crisis erupted, many IT companies had to consider remote works. The technical means were there before, but the remote model was never favored. Then COVID-19 conquered more areas and infected more people. The business owners faced a new choice – either to close their businesses and claim bankruptcy or to change the working modes. Not all of them could switch to online, but those that could – did it.
Google, Twitter, and even Apple abandoned the usual requirements of office work. Now they all demand their employees to work from home. Fortunately, flexibility and innovative approaches were always the IT cup of tea.
The primary needs of today are reliable means of remote communication and the mighty Internet. While the latter depends on the 5G providers, most of the IT leaders have already offered a variety of tools.
But another thing is more interesting. The pandemic will end. What will happen with the remote work after that? Many IT teams work this way now, could it become the turning point? We witness the first global pandemic of the IT age. It is a colossal experiment that will later bring more data for analysis.
The challenges of online education in 2020
School quarantines are regular things as well. During the previous pandemics where the diseases were less violent, schools and universities introduced temporary quarantines for a week or two. Students, as a rule, enjoyed them sincerely. But the situation is entirely different now. Quarantines will last for more than a couple of weeks. That’s why all institutions try their best to keep the educational process active.
We have the same case here: the capacities for the distant education were available long ago, but not used. As a result, people experiment in real-time with them all. For instance, the Google Classroom service developed for educational purposes could not cope with the load.
It was the same as with the remote work – people did not have time to get prepared and test everything. The good news is that both the providers and IT companies try to meet the consumers halfway. There are Internet spots for free, as well as free access to advanced solutions like G Suite for Education. Of course, it is a part of the general marketing strategy, but it is the right time for it. Many new users need reliable services for remote activities. Now they can test their capabilities, and later they can return and become regular clients. In any case, this marketing approach is commendable.
There have been talks about online education for many years, but the breakthrough did not happen. The current situation that forces people to go for virtual schooling will help that breakthrough. There are many other nuances, but the essence is the same: we are taking part in one colossal experiment.
Most likely, the IT projects in distant education will be platforms with dedicated channels for communication with teachers. There will be online courses with all source materials and quizzes online. Of course, some academic studies aren’t suitable for the virtual format, but if the essential processes can go digital – it will resolve many problems.
The IT sphere is in a unique situation now. It can respond with working solutions to almost all social and business demands. Moreover, it can test them all under any conditions and develop optimal ways of work.
It does not mean that one solution will beat all its rivals and take the lead. More likely, there will be many parallel products, each with its advantages covering its target audience. It happened to instant messengers and video conferencing services, and this model will work again.
Smart city solution for pandemic and its consequences
Modern cities have structures sophisticated as much that they must become smart to cope with daily challenges. Speaking of the latest issues brought by COVID-19, we have two main problems. First, we need to identify people by some markers, and second – we need to provide them the reliable information. The need for such solutions during the pandemic is clear: they have to find infected people and let all people get help.
Drones, mobile apps, and chat-bots already do these tasks. Their primary consumers are the citizens’ communication and surveillance areas. If they prove themselves efficient in taming the pandemic, governments may invest more in their development. Informed people make more responsible citizens.
Business Opportunities and IT solutions
- The new reality of living in the global pandemic has shaken the buying patterns as well. Offline shops struggle all over the world – in most areas, they are closed, except for the large franchises. At the same time, courier delivery got a tremendous boost. The “online” approach is successful for the offline business. We talk about contactless payments and dedicated deliveries of all things. It may happen that the consumers will get used to these comfortable means and won’t wish to waste time going to shops when things get back to normal.
- The sphere of entertainment will undoubtedly need to re-configure itself. Traditional places like cinemas, theaters, and concert halls don’t work. The most optimistic prognoses claim they won’t open their doors earlier than Autumn 2020. People stay at home and want entertaining content. It’s not any surprise that they turn to online gaming and video services. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube, and the rest of the kind will gain more audience.
Speaking of the tools to deliver the contents, it looks like mobile apps will have to give way to web apps. The model of consuming video content on the road on smartphones and tablets was excellent for working people. When they stay at home, they tend to explore the capacities of large displays. Most of the services have already noted the mobile apps usage decline, but their websites are under tremendous load.
- Social networks are also among the potential winners. People in self-isolation want to connect with their friends and relatives. Social networks give these possibilities. Besides, in addition to personal and group chats, social networks add video-chats.
- Banks and payment systems were always at the forefront of technical progress. Cashless payments are daily routine in many countries, and their number will grow. It does not concern traditional payment cards only. There are alternative payment means in smartphones, and they will become more functional.
Most bank operations don’t demand personal presence. There are all reasons to consider that this trend will develop further. Mobile banking apps will include more analytical and consulting options. Eventually, it will be possible to do all operations online.
No matter how this first global crisis of the digital era ends, it has already opened the window of opportunities for us all. More people will understand the prospects and benefits of digitalization better. Some companies will introduce remote work as a standard model and combine it with office work.
Sometimes, we need a crisis to think out of the box and find new approaches to the usual things. The IT sphere is in the vanguard, so let’s not waste the chances.