It’s an interesting paradigm that although the technology industry was one of the first to suffer as a result of COVID-19, yet it is through technology that the world of business has been able to find a new path of continuance. I decided to write the below article, highlighting the impact COVID-19 has had and will have on the technology industry based on the conversations I have had with senior technology leaders in the GCC region.
Approximate read time: 5 minutes.
The coronavirus, or COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in China, has infected over 2 million people worldwide as of April 2020 and counting. Among concerns about the health of the population, fears of a severe economic disaster are in the air as well; with cities in lockdown, travel restrictions in place, not to mention global trade, commerce, tourism, investment and supply chains in a confused and uncertain state. While all industries are undoubtedly feeling the effects of the pandemic, this article will hone in on the impact this virus has had and will have on the global Information technology industry.
Digital technologies have a crucial role to play during this phase of disruption and reorientation. How? Well, it is undeniable that in the current climate, more people are working from home than ever before. Communication and collaboration tools are a vital part of the effort to keep teamwork and partnerships running efficiently. The use of technologies (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business etc.) has been available before but may not have been frequently utilised are now seen as a crucial means of daily communication. Companies that have already undergone a phase of digital transformation are now reaping the rewards from such a decision during this pandemic and those who have not are fast-tracking their plans to implement such changes to their organisation.
It is interesting to consider both the short and long-term implications of this crisis in the digital world. Most decision-makers within the Technology space are currently faced with critical and undesirable effects of the coronavirus. However, from my recent conversations with senior technology leaders in the market, the general consensus from these parties is this situation should contribute to technological progress moving forward. While not guaranteed, it is believed that this pandemic could allow for the digital economy to emerge from this in better and stronger shape than ever before.
Technology Events & Launches
The spread of the coronavirus has caused the cancellation of the most anticipated tech conferences, likely resulting in numerous missed partnership opportunities. According to Business Insider, Mobile World Congress, a leading and popular conference within the telecommunications sector, was one of the first in a string of industry seminars to be cancelled or postponed in an effort to contain and prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Dubai Expo 2020 followed suit and announced that after 7 years of planning, the organisation has decided to postpone this event by one full year as “the health and well-being of everyone living in and visiting the UAE is their top priority”. The decision had not been made lightly, and the team remain firm in their communal goal to deliver an Expo that is “true to its time”. However, it is clear that this is not the right time.
The world has witnessed a rise in online conferencing substitutes in an attempt to limit the consequences of the cancelled seminars. However, it is likely that the technology sector will still see a fall in innovation and collaboration opportunities from the lack of sufficient, face-to-face networking opportunities that take place at seminars and conferences such as these. Huawei was one of the many technology giants who decided to shelve its plans to hold a launch event for its forthcoming flagship smartphones, the P40 and P40 Pro, due to be announced on the 26th of March in Paris, France. Instead, the next-gen flagship smartphone was introduced via a live stream.
Cities all over the world have directed their focus towards Smart City technology and tools such as drones, IOT, sensors and surveillance are now being used in an attempt to moderate the effects of the pandemic. The Chinese police force has begun using drones with thermal sensors to detect individuals in public places who are running a fever. Similarly, the UAE has introduced drones to disinfect the streets during lockdown and curfew periods. In addition to this, Gulf News has recently reported that Etihad Airways will be the first airline to trial a new technology which will allow for the identification of medical conditions, including early stages of COVID-19, using self-service devices in airports.
Disruptions to the Supply Chain
Manufacturing plant closures are among a number of the side effects that COVID-19 has had on the Supply Chain industry. When we look at China, for example, being the origin of the virus, the region was the first to implement quarantine due to the rapid rise in numbers of cases. This led first to partial and then subsequently full closure of factories and plants, several which were run by global technology players to produce their products. Apple, for example, has witnessed notable shortages on its iPhone and Airpod supply as a result of the organisation’s prime manufacturer closing the majority of its production in China. It is advised to postpone any intended smartphone purchases in the coming months due to the disturbance to the Supply Chain caused by said closures, prompting delays in new product launches and dampening production in the high-tech manufacturing industry.
It’s an interesting paradigm that although the technology industry was one of the first to suffer as a result of COVID-19, yet it is through technology that the world of business has been able to find a new path of continuance. While it’s vital for this sector to take additional steps to alleviate the risk of negative implications from the coronavirus, it cannot be denied that this pandemic has propelled new technology implementations and opportunities across all aspects of professional and everyday life.
My speciality has been recruitment within the technology industry for the last 4 years, and I currently support national and multinational organizations and groups in the GCC region; in areas such as Data Analytics, PMO and Infrastructure. I wrote this article based on my conversations with market leaders in these organisations. If you are looking for advice during these unprecedented and ambiguous times, please feel free to reach out to me as I would be more than happy to shed some light on the steps that we have taken to deal with the current climate.
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