Tech industry and Corona Virus: The bad, the good and the hope
Covid 19 or Corona Virus is perhaps the most used word in the first quarter of 2020 worldwide. The deadly virus which originated from mainland China has put the world to a state of virtual standstill. According to forecasts, the pandemic will cost a staggering $1Tn to the world economy as per its current condition.
As the Novel Coronavirus is creating havoc for industries globally, the IT industry has also taken a significant hit due to the disruption in supply chain management. Many major conferences such as Google I/O 2020 have been cancelled entirely due to coronavirus threat. Tech giant Apple, on the other hand, is coming with an all-new online format to kick start the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2020.
Many companies have asked their employees to work remotely. The industry is facing delayed initiatives and is missing partnership opportunities. Moreover, the companies are facing consumer hysteria as an added hurdle as fear has spread fast amongst the consumers throughout the globe. With the demand and supply side affected equally, the supply chain management system gets hampered.
Most prominent impacts of Corona Virus on the IT Industry.
Big conferences cancelled, partnerships missed
Several companies have rescheduled their plans for holding conferences, which has led to significant business losses. One of the notable events, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) which was scheduled to take place in Barcelona from February 24-27. MWC holds major significance as it is the cornerstone event in the mobile and web connectivity industry that provides a massive platform for companies to share innovations and build new business partnerships.
The global presence of coronavirus has made companies reschedule their entire plan and halted their business expansion process. Apart from MWC, Facebook cancelled its F8 developer conference, and like Apple, Google shifted its Google Cloud Next event to online only. The cancellation of these major events made a big hole in the purse of the tech companies as they have incurred a loss of over $1 Billion.
While the option of going online has helped to limit the fallout from the cancelled events, tech companies will suffer the repercussions due to the loss of 'in-person' business opportunities. For example, marketers will find it very difficult to share their best practices over a live-streamed Facebook Global marketing summit event, than to do it on a person- in-person basis.
Disrupted Supply Chain management
As the coronavirus pandemic originated from mainland China, the supply chain management system got a significant hit as partial to the full shutdown were practised in plants and factories based in China. This led to shortages in supply for goods and products. For instance, Apple faced shortages in iPhone supply as Foxconn, the tech giant's leading manufacturer shut down its production in China. It has been difficult for companies to revive the supply process as due to the rapid spread of the virus, it is tough to pinpoint and find the least affected areas. Also, it is challenging to replicate the ‘Made in China’ initiatives for many companies as China has one of the best supply chain management system in the world and companies globally have invested billions of dollars in it.
As we know, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Coronavirus has impacted the tech industry in a hazardous manner. Thus, tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, Google, etc. have pitted their hands up and are taking steps to curtail the havoc caused by the pandemic.
How are the tech moguls responding to these dire circumstances?
With the F8 Developer Conference cancelled, Facebook has decided to replace in-person conferences with locally hosted and live-streamed content, videos, etc. The company has purposely curtailed the visit of its employees to China over the novel coronavirus. In addition to this, Facebook is providing ads for free to WHO. Thus, helping to create awareness about the pandemic using their platform. Moreover, they have banned the advertisements that ensure the cure to Corona Virus to curtail the spread of fake news.
The company has encouraged its employees to work from home. For employees who can’t work remotely, the company is paying them on an hourly basis.
Google has cancelled all its in-person interviews apart from cancelling the annual I/O developer’s conference which was supposed to held in California. The company has closed down its offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China and has instructed its employees to work from home whose relatives have returned from China for atleast 14 days. Google has also announced to give their staff sick leave if they have to take time off due to the novel coronavirus. Apart from North America, the organization has instructed its employees from Europe, Middle East and Africa to work from home and practice social distancing.
As an initiative to public service, Apple has doubled its previously announced donations for public health services against the disease. The company is fiercely focussed on the health of its workers and contractors. It has asked its employees to work from home. Moreover, tech giant believes that apart from China, the demand chain remains in line and is very strong according to their expectations. The company has also stated that the disruption is temporary, and the organization is fundamentally solid to handle it. The company has made sure to deep clean all its offices to maintain the health of its employees.
Tata Consultancy Services
Indian IT spearhead Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has taken formidable actions amidst the pandemic and imposed travel restrictions and urged the employees to work from home. In addition to this, the company is taking proactive measures through the amplification of the technology landscape. The company is obtaining productive work from its employees, even from remote locations. The company has launched a program for borderless workspace infrastructure to ensure business continuity even with a minimal workforce from office.
TCS has pioneered in proactively deploying cloud-based infrastructure and practice robust security measures to deal with this unprecedented situation. The company also continues to power the healthcare and financial services of government and private institutions to sustain the well-being under these trying circumstances.
SAP has ensured a 90-day no-layoff pledge amidst the tumultuous times due to coronavirus to safeguard the job and well-being of their employees. As the global pandemic is having a sizable impact in India, this initiative from SAP has come as a sign of relief and happiness for its Indian employees. SAP India has shut down its offices in Mumbai, Gurugram and Bengaluru has urged its employees to work from home. The company is also doing its best to educate its employees about the spread of the virus and take preventive measures in a very proactive manner.
What’s way forward for the IT companies?
The pandemic situation will compel the tech industry to come up with innovative ideas to keep their performance and credibility up even after working from remote locations. One such method can be the high scale utilization of Virtual Reality. An elite tech organization will always see this as a very viable option.
Technology Advances in VR
The outbreak has led major tech giants to ask their employees to work from home, and this could be the beginning of some significant technology disruption in the future. 'Need is the mother of invention' and with companies looking for more collaborative work, moving towards virtual reality can solve their problem.
Companies are already aware that VR is a vital tool to improve employee training. Almost half of the companies worldwide are looking for tools that could mirror real-world conditions. VR would help the employees to keep their skills sharp by providing hands-on tutorials that would have been available in their actual workplace. Moreover, the meeting can be held more smoothly with VR, and the workers can share ideas sharply, even with a remote work setup.
The Silver Lining
Covid-19 can hurt the tech industry, but there is a hint of silver lining in it. The software products like Zoom and Zoho have the ability to provide services to work remotely; they can see a spike in their business endeavours. As millions of people are staying at home, Internet publishing and broadcasting companies will see a massive rise in their business and thus expand by leaps and bounces.