The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Every kind of business and every profession had to upgrade them self and that has lead to the rapid digitalization in world. Big or small every enterprise had to adapt to the new online mode of survival. This proposed a great opportunity for the tech companies to enhance their reach, improve and spreading their wings in as many sectors as possible. Several companies have evaluated the risks and rewards and taken a leap to become leaders in tech areas. Prosus’ one such Amsterdam-based conglomerate which has e-commerce and classifieds owing to this situation has span its services to food delivery, fintech and more. The company is valued currently at $180 billion, making it names as one of Europe’s 10 largest companies. Bob van Dijk, chief executive of Prosus, has an advantage to predict or foresee the industries fortunes especially in countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China that are at the frontline as emerging markets for technology in pandemic.
There are several parameters in play here that may participate in the post pandemic future of tech companies.
Some changes are here to stay:
Prosus is one of the companies that sustained well in fact the latest available numbers, its revenue and profit spiked by around 30%. Post pandemic world will still be adjusting to new normal’s, how to governments are able to manage the situations, how is the availability and administration of vaccine, as well as any new surprises that variants’ of virus might bring. This global situation has led to change in customer behaviour and analysts around the world predict that will stay even after things settle down.
Trends like work from home (WFH) are another culture that may last longer than expected. Although this may be highly inconvenient to some but most of the IT companies has got adjusted to this new norm. Companies that are equipped to provide the infrastructure for WFH will prefer it rather than as an option. Employees are also adjusted to these work conditions and would prefer to work from the safety of their homes.
Education is one more such area that has seen a drastic shift from physical classrooms to virtual classrooms. Since the lockdown of schools, colleges and universities have shifted to video conferencing using platforms like Zoom and Google Meet apart from these platforms like edX and Coursera have also seen an increased in enrollment.
Many institutes are shifting entirely to online mode for the upcoming academic year. This is also supported by digital transformations like Cloud, Internet-of-Things (IoT), Blockchain (BC), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) which are rapidly gaining up gradations.
AI was already a rising trend even before the pandemic and technology world had seen a boom. During this entire period it has been booming as all industries try to automate and enhance their business. AI has the ability to process the data that we are generating at a very fast rate. This has been crucial in biomedical sciences especially owing to the Covid 19 situation. AI has now progressed not only to read but also to write, see and speak.
E-commerce has seen the use of AI in companies like Alibaba for generating product descriptions or Dimono’s using AI’s machine vision to scan pizza’s for quality control. In healthcare, machine learning can evaluate scans or X-rays of patients lungs to understand the extent of corona virus and extent of its damage.
Chatbots were always an integral part of regular customer service. In recent times Siri, Alexa Google home are all common names in many households. This is how AI has entered almost all aspects of our life. Future for AI was already bright the pandemic and technology seems to have accelerated it ascend.
Fluctuating market trends:
The lockdowns initiated by governments in an attempt to avert the crisis has actually led to an economic upheaval. “Market valuations for technology during pandemic have become quite full,” van Dijk said. “There’s a lot of money looking for a return.”
Companies will slow down hiring, that can affect availability of skilled workforce.
The production-supply change is disrupted leading to a gap in economy. Companies are looking for expanding businesses by seeking solutions for remote working, data security, need for in store alternatives, increase in demand for skilled developers and engineers. Varying global situations affect overseas delivery leading to delay or damage. Unstable economy markets will lead the companies to make budget cuts and curtail discretionary spending. The tech industries on the other hand will boom in demand as we continue remote working, online education and need for social distancing. This can create greater opportunities for acquisitions bigger fish that have been waiting on side lines for opportunities.
Technology support needs to be enhanced as customer’s demands are inclined towards needs of applications.
Lockdown and social distancing norms have led the shoppers to be confined at home and the shopkeepers to go online. This is where extended reality like augmented, visual and mixed reality has helped expand the experience for the customers as well as businesses. Several businesses are offering try and buy that creates a unique experience for the customer. VR headsets are now being used to test eyes and generate a prescription. These stores also allow trying different types of frames on your face through augmented reality. Or IKEA Place app that helps place virtual furniture to see how it looks, or Dulux Visualizer that helps to choose the right color for your house.
Increased Network and Availability of 5G:
WFH has shown some positive results for many companies and they might continue the trend even in the post pandemic times. With this trend the devices needed for wireless connectivity and increased network availability will be much in demand. The fifth generation of internet can transform things drastically.
The adaptability to technology in pandemic period can get better with connectivity, speed and reliability of 5G internet. There is example of technology like the one used at Cermaq, fish farming giant that uses facial recognition technology and live feed to monitor its fishes. The system makes use of 3D scanning to identify different fishes in order to monitor the health and population dynamics of the reared fishes. But this required uninterrupted mobile network connectivity in order to handle the large amount of data generated. Also availability of 5G will open doors for the gaming industry which have gained immense popularity in the past year owing to the stay at home situation.
Data security and surveillance:
With so much data streaming on the web and all the businesses shifting online the concerns for data security and privacy are ever so rising. Yuval Harari, Commentators, have written about the potential for state surveillance as governments rely on digital means to monitor the spread of the pandemic. Several governments have developed apps on smart phones to monitor infected persons and trace their contact history. This has greatly increased privacy and state surveillance concerns among people of all walks of life. If these measures continue even after the pandemic, as a way to measures of monitoring populations for epidemiological reasons with digital surveillance, data threat could still be prevalent. These digital platforms are proving to be most efficient way of checking the spread of disease, even if it raises security and privacy concerns.
This visible surge in the use of digital technologies, it is leaving us vulnerable for rise in cases like online fraud, scams, intrusions, and security breaches, identify thefts etc. The pandemic has created a scenario of insecurity that has become breeding ground for fraudsters to exploit the crisis situation by extracting money or information or by creating vulnerabilities. Today as users we heavily rely on digital resources, especially the first time users, and are becoming targets for fraud and scams. Organizations and governments are aware of this threat and are taking countermeasures for example when many governments took a strong stand against Zoom sessions for education, forcing the platform provider to upgrade security options.
Along with security and surveillance, privacy especially with those mobile apps video conferences, online classes also processes intrusion of personal space. Online classes, for example during the pandemic lockdowns have suffered issues of ‘intrusion of privacy’ as students and teachers are on camera exposing their private spaces in their homes.
Privacy has also been considered by researchers, as privacy risk is a dominant and recurring factor in studies with respect to mobile payments, location-based mobile services and social networking sites. It has led to different privacy concerns of users while adapting both Covid-19 tracking apps, and online classroom applications and many more. The risks involved in the breach of privacy by these are unalike and must be investigated with adequate contextual references.
In the light of these threats organizations and governments will implement massive security arrangements, along with extensive information campaigns. There will be a significant surge in security innovations and firms that offer security services. These will primarily focus on managing security; assess the causes of breaches, and the economic and social loss from them.
As these concerns are raised it will be increasingly difficult for tech gaits to stay away from the tax regulations evoked by various governments.
It is clear that the pandemic has posed a positive and negative scale on future of technology. And that the changes that the world has witnessed this year, many of them will be here to stay including changing the political contour of the world, shift in power, and creating new normal for all of us. The pandemic has envisaged a dramatic shift in digital usage with impacts on almost all aspects of work and personal life. The trends set today in terms of business approaches; market strategies as well as customer behaviour will change the pace of growth for information technology for years to come.
Like all scenarios tech industries will also have to measure the risks and rewards. Take and enhance the requirement of the businesses at the same time use appropriate safety measure to secure data and privacy of the users.
The coming days will definitely look at solution oriented tech industries on a rise as the demand for digitalization will continue to grow.
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