Technology, driver of the 'new normal' amid Covid-19 crisis

Doaa A.Moneim , Thursday 21 May 2020

Amid lockdown measures and social distancing, technology is playing a vital role in making life easier

Online education
Online education

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak crisis, lockdown measures and social distancing, technology is playing a vital role to make life, communication, working from home, and getting services and products easier.

Indeed, technology is fast becoming the driver of a “new normal” that the pandemic is anticipated to imprint on the post-Covid-19 phase.

According to a recent report issued by Forbes Middle East, about economic technology transformations in the post-Covid-19 era, the pandemic has made it very clear that the world can no longer sustain itself based on old models around health, education, business, food supplies, and economies.

In April, Microsoft’s remote work trend report revealed that it had experienced a new record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day, a 200 percent increase from 900 million in March. And as students and teachers turn to Microsoft Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 users in 175 countries using the tool for online education.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve been inspired by the ways our customers are connecting during meetings in Microsoft Teams. We’ve seen bosses show up to meetings as virtual potato heads and team stand-ups turn delightfully silly. From teams of workers sharing shift updates to students and teachers connecting in virtual classrooms and CEOs conducting town hall Q&As with thousands of employees, we’re all finding new ways to come together when we have to work and learn apart," according to the report.

ZOOM, a video conferencing service provider, is poster child of how technology is forming the backbone of a “new normal.” In its fourth quarter of FY2020 financial results report, ZOOM’s total revenues jumped to $188.3 million, up 78 percent (Y-o-Y) with full fiscal year total revenues of $622.7 million, up 88 percent (Y-o-Y).

ZOOM’s income from operations for the quarter recorded $10.6 million, up from $5.5 million in the fourth quarter of FY2019 while net income attributable to common stockholders for the quarter was $15.3 million, or $0.05 per share, up from $1.2 million, or $0.01 per share in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019, according to the report.

Further, net cash provided by operating activities doubled to $36.6 million for the quarter, up from $16 million in the fourth quarter of FY2019 with free cash flow of $26.6 million for the quarter, compared to $5.7 million in the fourth quarter of FY2019.

On 22 April, ZOOM disclosed that it saw a 50 percent surge in daily users, with 300 million daily meeting participants, up from 200 million recorded earlier in April. According to its first quarter of FY2021 financial outlook, ZOOM’s full year total revenues are expected to be between $905.0 million and $915.0 million.

“We strive to empower our customers to accomplish more with our video-first unified communications platform. This is evidenced by our strong performance in 2020’s fourth quarter. Our execution also drove 61 percent growth in the number of customers with 86 percent growth in the number of customers contributing more than $100K of TTM revenue,” founder and CEO of Zoom Eric Yuan said.

Forbes' report highlighted the pandemic’s impact on daily communication, saying that Covid-19 has transformed the conferences and events industry, which has now virtually gone. According to the report, the electronic communication sector is poised to witness immense competition and growth in an attempt to attract more customers through providing extra features and services.

The gaming sector also is witnessing a boom, benefiting from the challenges imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report released 15 May by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the global video game industry is thriving, despite widespread economic disruption caused by the pandemic, turning to a plus social distancing measures that are reducing consumer and business activities to a minimum.

Gaming offers an engaging distraction for people at home looking for social interaction, and initial data shows huge growth in playing time and sales since lockdowns began, according to the report. Accordingly, the WEF expected the global video game market to be worth $159 billion in 2020, around four times larger than box office revenues, which recorded $43 billion in 2019, and almost three times the size of music industry revenues, that recorded $57 billion in 2019.

For e-commerce and e-retailing, Forbes' report revealed a threefold increase in revenues and customer numbers during the Covid-19, as people turn to apps and online platforms to obtain commodities and services. The report expected these sector sales to surpass $4.2 trillion in 2020, with notable growth of Amazon.

Amid the pandemic, Amazon announced 30 April that total earnings for the three months ending 31 March were exceptionally strong, recording $33 million an hour in sales and $75.5 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2020.

According to Comparisun in a recent report, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is expected to be the world’s first trillionaire as early as 2026, on the back of his company’s significant growth. It also expected that Google will join fellow tech giants Apple and Microsoft in hitting the $1 trillion mark within 2021.

“The numbers suggest that they’ll soon be followed by the last of the Big Four tech companies, Facebook, whose market cap currently sits at around $665 billion, but has seen an average growth of 24 percent over the last five years, which, if continued, could see them join the trillion dollar club in 2022,” added the report.

Speaking to Ahram Online, CEO of Egypt's Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) Hala El-Gohary said that the coronavirus outbreak has forced most businesses to shift their norms and urge people to stay at home. Accordingly, technologies related to remote work and remote healthcare have witnessed unprecedented growth.

Digital and web technologies such as videoconferencing, virtual meetings and events, in addition to online games, have taken the lion’s share of the growth of usage, El-Gohary said. “The current situation has underscored the urgency to stay connected and the imperative of digital readiness has gone from important to absolutely critical," El-Gohary asserted.

She added that businesses with digital and technological tools were much more resilient than ordinary businesses, as in times of pandemic, consumers would prefer online shopping and digital and remote interaction to proximate and physical interactions, so technology has given an edge to both the consumer and businesses.

For ITIDA's efforts to entrench technology use in Egypt, El-Gohary indicated that the organisation has been focusing on carving a niche for Egypt to be a regional hub for technology and innovation. “We are nurturing innovation and talent development as a priority to support equipping Egypt’s young population with the qualifications and skills they need to participate in the industry’s development," El-Gohary said.

El-Gohary added that ITIDA is detailing its efforts with the tech community to support attempts to tackle the global coronavirus outbreak. This along with building the capacities of local companies, attracting multinational ICT companies and maintaining Egypt’s value proposition attractiveness to investors, and developing the entire IT ecosystem in Egypt.

ITIDA has mobilised resources to accelerate research and innovation collaboration that could help in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, supporting local tech initiatives, startups, and hackathons to help spur coronavirus-relevant innovations. “Internally, we were the first governmental entity to implement the working from home policy, availing our capabilities and tools so business continuity is not hindered. And we have shifted most of our services that were provided physically to online services,” El-Gohary added.

Touching upon ITIDA's future plans, El-Gohary told Ahram Online that the organisation will continue encouraging its employees to work remotely. She added that there will be more initiatives that focus on online training, remote work skills development, and other endeavours that help in accelerating the digitalisation of services.

Short link: