COVID-19: Business and technology in a global pandemic

The COVID-19 global pandemic has reshaped the new normal for businesses. And, we aren’t talking only about sending many employees to work from home and closing the doors of many companies. It is also about driving the acceleration of technological adoption. 

Since its outbreak, the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has affected, in a way or another, every business, no matter the industry. It has caused widespread concern and economic hardship for both businesses and their customers around the globe. And, it has made governments worldwide allocate more than $13 trillion to stabilize their economies and restart growth. 

But one thing that we’ve all learned is the importance of technology to keep things going during uncertain times. Businesses all around the world have used technology more than ever before to keep their operations running. Employees worked from home, customers ordered from home, and manual processes have been automated. In fact, technology has been used so intensely over the last few months to keep the virus from spreading while allowing businesses to stay open that a few key technology trends have been accelerated worldwide.  

Here are the 5 tech trends that play a crucial role in keeping our world functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. 

1. Online shopping

Have you purchased goods and services online over the last three months? You’ve most likely shopped online, and you aren’t the only one. 

According to the US census bureau, there was a 17.7% rise in US consumer spending in the retail industry during May compared to April. Moreover, data shows that during March, April, and May, online retailers in the US have experienced a 126% rise in online revenue. Compared with the same period last year. 

Unsurprisingly, businesses must adapt to this new normal in order to meet their customers’ expectations. For example, bars in Beijing offer happy hours through online orders and delivery. Amazon has announced that it is hiring 100,000 warehouse workers in order to meet the surging demand in online orders. 

But meeting demand isn’t the only thing that matters right now. What truly matters is meeting demand while still keeping employees and customers safe. Thus, with in-person delivery not being virus-proof, many businesses have launched contactless delivery services where goods are picked up from a destination and dropped off at another without any in-person interaction. Plus, e-commerce giants in China are also accelerating their development of robot deliveries which are set to minimize the risk of potential infections caused by face-to-face human contact. 

2. Digital and contactless payments

Cash goes from hand to hand and can easily carry the virus from one person to another. Thus, digital and contactless payments have become more critical than ever before to protect both customers and retailers. In the US, China, and South Korea, central banks have taken various steps to make sure that banknotes are clean before they go into circulation. 

But, contactless digital payments, including cards or e-wallets, remain the recommended payment method to avoid the spread of the virus. Contactless digital payment methods allow customers to purchase goods online or make payments safely without using banknotes that may carry the virus. 

Yet, according to the World Bank, more than 1.7 billion people worldwide are unbanked and may not have access to digital payments. In the future, we will see a rise of fintech players who offer financial services to people who don’t have access to traditional financial players. 

3. Remote work

Remote work has become the new norm for many employees. And, while remote work was a measure imposed by employers to protect their employees and customers from the virus during these uncertain times, it seems that it may continue to be the norm even after the pandemic is over. 

To be more precise, 43% of full-time American workers claim that they would like working remotely more often even after the US economy has reopened. Plus, 20% of the 1200 employees surveyed in the same study said that their employers are actively looking for solutions to make remote work more of an option in the future. 

Cloud technology, VPNs, work collaboration tools, voice over internet protocols, and virtual meetings are all technologies used these days more than ever before to enable remote work. However, such a sudden switch from office work to remote work has taken employers by surprise, imposing various challenges, including information security, privacy. 

Employees, on the other hand, have also had to deal with different challenges while working remotely, such as loneliness or lack of work-life balance. Yet, according to a report from Buffer, when asked about the biggest struggle of employees with working remotely, 20% of them reported collaboration and communication. The good news is that a bespoke software development company can develop collaborative software with tailored tools for every company’s needs and requirements. This way, teams can work together on projects and communicate more efficiently, making remote work the new normal for many companies. 

4. Robotics and drones

One thing that the ongoing global pandemic has made the world realize is how much we rely on human interactions to keep things running. And, labor intensive businesses, including food, retail, logistics, and manufacturing, have learned this lesson faster than everyone else since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Now, like always, humanity responds to challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic with solutions. So, to minimize human contact and the risk of spreading the virus, robots and drones are being used to perform various tasks, including disinfecting areas, delivering food and other goods, and even walking dogs. 

5. 5G

Technology relies on stable and high-speed Internet connection. In fact, 53% of people in the US believe that the Internet has been essential during the coronavirus outbreak. So, as technology has become essential in the last few months, the demand for better internet connections has also increased. 

5G has proved its worth in remote monitoring and healthcare consultation before. Today, the adoption of 5G is still delayed in many parts of the world. Yet, as a stable and high-speed Internet connection is essential for tech devices to work, and also contributes to the search for a solution for the virus, the adoption of 5G worldwide is likely to become a priority as well.