Everyone is touching how the coronavirus pandemic has a profound impact on social life and the economy. How are digital companies getting along during this crisis?
The social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are difficult to predict at this point of time. Along with concerns about the health of the population, fears of a serious economic crisis are in the air as well. Due to the initial restrictions, the existence of some firms is already endangered just a few weeks into the new measures; others need to fundamentally retool their approaches and develop a different culture of work.
Digital technologies have a key role to play during this phase of reorientation. How does the global spread of the coronavirus affect digitalization? Will the crisis bring new and unexpected potential for the digital industry?
In the current situation, there are more people working from home than ever before. Communication and collaboration tools are an essential part of the effort to keep collaboration running smoothly. Therefore those countries that are most digitized will be less affected by the onslaught of the virus. For example if countries had a central bank digital currency on the block chain, then people would have no need to use cash ( which could be infected) or go to a bank ATM or even touch a card. The CBDC would be sitting in their wallet on their phone and could be used to make payments and purchase goods and services, as well as finalize any transaction with the government without the need of stamps or face to face paper pushing but with a click of a button and a digital signature or QR Code or just the fact that it is on the block chain and cannot be undone.
If economies and governments were truly digitized they would be using technologies such as Block chain, Artificial Intelligence, and the data that is analyzed to most probably quarantine the population with the highest percentage of risk and then just allow the virus to reap havoc among the strong and create the so called herd immunity.
If countries were more digitized manufacturing would not have stopped because robots would be doing the job, Artificial Intelligence would be ensuring it was done right and productively. Block chain would be allowing the supply chain, and trade finance chain and finally ecommerce chain to run smoothly and automatically without the need for human intervention. Internet of things would ensure that all these sectors and would be connected and communicating with each other without the need of any human intervention. One machine could request spare parts from a factory which would be sent, and installed by drones and robots.
With self-driving vehicles for example people would be able to go and come without putting themselves or others such as the driver at risk. With flying delivery drones as well, quarantine families and individuals would be able to receive groceries and food deliveries without fearing putting at risk the deliverer or themselves.
More importantly in the healthcare sector, robotic nurses and doctors could actually be caring for the sick ensuring that no doctor catches the virus, such as today you have robotic arms that carry out surgeries with doctors sitting across the globe in a comfortable room with a computer and simulation screen in front of them.
Even student and teachers could still be learning and teaching through online means instead of having to take a halt and wait out the pandemic. Even most employees, if their companies were truly digitized, and their networks and communication tools were efficient enough could be working from home.
But with all this talk about Corona, and the benefits of digitization, we have come to a cross road of sorts. The true question that this pandemic has posed is what we will do with our time when the world becomes truly digitized, when we no longer are needed for all these jobs, not because Corona is in the air but because digitization has taken over most of the functions and jobs that people used to do.