The Tech challenges brought by COVID-19

The tech challenges brought by COVID-19

  • Tech is a fundamental part of modern society and as such, it is one of the first to suffer from the fallout Covid-19 has brought
  • From mass hysteria over 5G infrastructures to the propagation of fake news
  • While tech sales drop, questions are being asked about the privacy we enjoyed pre-corona.
  • Most affected are startups and small businesses.

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    In just a few months, the world has been turned inside out. The COVID-19 pandemic, with over a million people infected worldwide and a number of deaths close to 200,000 as of mid-May, has shut the world down.

    The full impact of the pandemic is yet to be known, but it’s quite clear it will ignite major changes in the technology industry. An industry that’s been called on the most as more people have relied on it to continue working from home, socialize with family and friends and entertain themselves.

    Here are some tech challenges that we should watch out for due to the pandemic:

    Privacy


    Healthcare and security will trump privacy as more and more governments are now monitoring and tracking people who test positive for the virus to speed up recovery and prevent future outbreaks. The use of smartphones and location data will be critical. Tech companies are looking for ways to innovate location-tracking tech and share anonymized location data with state and federal governments.

    Privacy won’t be totally destroyed though. Researchers and digital privacy advocates are working on technologies that will secure the user's data while actively tracking them. What amount of data is too much for the government to know? What amount of it can be shared? Those are questions new laws and regulations will have to answer as we navigate our lives around the effects of the pandemic.


    Fake news


    After fighting and winning against COVID-19, the next threat governments and the tech industry has to face will be the fight against fake news.

    As the virus spread globally, fake news and misinformation spread faster, which may sometimes be more dangerous than the virus itself. As the era where most people get their news from social media sites is upon us, more and more people rely on these sites or apps for the latest news. Memes, photos and videos now spread like wildfire from phone to phone, spreading panic in the minds of the uninfected.

    Heard about how 5G causes the virus? Heard about how the virus was man-made in a lab in Wuhan? That’s the work of fake news.

    Several measures have been put in place to control the spread of fake news. The WHO has launched a health alert on Whatsapp and a Chatbot on Facebook Messenger to provide accurate information about the virus. Google has removed all misleading information about the coronavirus from its apps and development platforms.

    Twitter is checking accounts that spread information about COVID-19 and monitoring their conversations.


    Deployment of 5G


    The shift to next-generation 5G networks will be delayed across the world. The supply chain of telecom gear, mostly based in China, has been disrupted. Equipment vendors like Huawei will see much lower sales than were projected just months ago.

    Network operators that have bought 5G gear will be retrenching and dealing with reduced demand.

    The rumors and fake news about 5G causing the coronavirus hasn’t helped either as individuals and some societies losing confidence in the technology. 5G device sales will also be adversely affected. 2020 was supposed to be the year where 5G networks and mobile devices would be fully deployed. With the advent of the coronavirus, all plans for deployment and usage have been put on the back burner. At least till society goes back to a semblance of normalcy.

    The same goes for 5Gs debut in factories and, warehouses and shipping ports. This is a massive blow for businesses that were hoping to improve productivity through upgrades to their wireless network. The development of global standards has been halted, freezing updates for connecting thousands of sensors and building private cellular networks that can be customized for individual users usage.


    Smartphone sales will drop


    The global smartphone market will flounder, at least till the middle of 2021. The spread of the virus had disrupted demand and supply chains and made forecasting of sales a giant uncertainty.

    To lure buyers, manufacturers will drop prices and include deals that will see smartphones bundled with smartwatches or earbuds.

    Manufacturers will look harder for manufacturing alternatives to china. Over the past couple of years, Samsung had withdrawn their production from China to India and Vietnam and apple may soon follow suit. They may even eye countries outside Asia; Africa being the best bet.

    Loss of income of most consumers will also be a factor in the drop in phone sales. The fewer people have to spend, the less they will want to spend on items like smartphones that many people still consider a luxury. Food and shelter will take the place of luxuries in most people’s minds post-corona.


    The death of many startups


    The tech industry, with its pivotal role as a frontrunner in advancing civilization, has not been immune to the devastating effects of COVID-19. Many tech startups may be in for a rougher ride as proven by the obstacles that this coronavirus outbreak has sprung up to block paths of many budding companies going forward, companies that already suffer from low earnings and factory shutdowns.

    Startups, still at their growth stages, get the shorter end of the stick as drastic measures listed above have a domino effect that can topple many companies' production.

    Many startups that have mostly corporate clients will see their earnings drop as most of their client is shut down with the rest of the world. Tech startups may also suffer, in particular, from delays in soft supply chains that can lead to poor performance in fundamental aspects such as contracting, data acquisition, among others. Companies who rely more on outsourcing may also see vulnerabilities in properly rendering crucial tasks, not least of which is customer service.

    The biggest issue most startups face now is cash management. , many estimates suggest that its likely to take 12 to 18 months until a vaccine is found and approved, although the post-crisis effects may continue for longer. Such thoughts give a ride to a fundamental question: how can startups survive during this period?

    Market investments have shifted. Valuations are down significantly, so getting money into the business is, and will be, increasingly difficult. Even for companies operating in sectors with high demand, if the product-market fit is likely to be more than one year away, investors will be more cautious. Additionally, certain opportunities for generating cash short term have frozen up.


    Conclusion


    While the global pandemic has brought most technological innovation and development to a grounding halt, this is not to say that there are no new technological advancements taking place. Instead, we see more focus being given to the areas of technology that can help fight and combat Covid-19.

    An as simple example of this would be the large increase of computing power now dedicated to medical research, with projects like Folding at Home, there has been an unprecedented increase of computing power being pooled together for a singular task.

    Just as we have done in the past, we as a species tend to focus on the crisis in front of us and focus all our available resources on that problem. And, as we have found in the past, there is always a silver lining within every crisis. The rapid development of technologies in the medical sector might just be it in this case.

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written by NEWCruitment Switzerland, the Leading Technology Talent Agency Specializing in Senior IT Architects and IT Engineers in Switzerland

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