TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES DURING COVID-19

The dawn of 2020 witnessed a deadly virus setting its traps globally. Within two months if 2020 to begin our earth went under complete lockdown. People imprisoned in their houses, schools, and universities shut down, shops closed, offices shut. Who would have predicted in late 2019 a part of the globe would be under a voluntary lockdown for the first five months of the upcoming decade?

COVID-19 posed a threat not only to human lives but also to the economy of the nation. The tourism industry is suffering due to the pandemic situation for the past five months. Railways have incurred a huge loss in these months lacking daily and seasonal passengers. The normal day-to-day lifestyle underwent drastic changes in these five months. Social gatherings are prohibited, areas prone to the deadly virus are isolated, production and sales of sanitizers and masks have increased.

The “new-normal” norm has introduced online classes and work from home facilities all around the world. New jobs are slowly coming up. The world is witnessing new modes and applications in different fields like education, shopping, banking, jobs, etc. Like the traditional institutes, technology is undergoing several challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY DURING COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a few main technological trends, including digital payments, telehealth, and robotics. During COVID-19 technology plays a crucial role in keeping our society functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. These technologies may have a long-lasting impact beyond COVID-19.

  1. Online shopping and robotic deliveries: COVID-19 has transformed online shopping from a nice-to-have to a must-have feature around the world. Online shopping needs to be supported by a robust logistics system. Many delivery companies and restaurants in the US and China are launching contactless delivery services where goods are picked up and dropped off at a designated location instead of from or into the hands of the person.
  2. Digital contactless payment: Cash might carry the virus, so Central Banks in China, the US, and South Korea have implemented various measures to ensure that banknotes are clean before they go into circulation. Now contactless digital payments either in the form of cards or e-wallets are the recommended payment method to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Digital payments enable people to make online purchases and payment of goods and utility payments as well as to receive stimulus funds faster.
  3. Remote Work: Many companies have asked their employees to work from home. Remote work is enabled by technologies including Virtual Private Network(VPN), Voice over Internet Protocols(VoIP), virtual meetings, cloud technology, work collaboration tools, and even facial recognition technologies that enable a person to appear before virtual background to preserve the privacy at home.
  4. Distance Learning: By mid-April, almost 191 countries announced schools or university closures impacting 1.57 billion students. Many educational institutions started offering courses online to ensure education was not disrupted by quarantine measures. Technologies involved in distance learning are similar to those for remote work and also include virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and AI-enabled robot teachers.

CHALLENGES FACED BY TECHNOLOGIES AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC

With COVID-19 spreading around the globe at a rapid rate, hundreds of millions of people have started telecommuting leading to heavy internet traffic. The global bandwidth demand is a test of the internet itself, and it is a cause for trouble for high-tech companies offering remote conferencing services, video-streaming providers, online gaming, etc.

Zoom an application that provides remote conferencing solutions has been receiving tons of negative publicity because of some privacy and security issues uncovered since the world went into quarantine. The demands for streaming platforms have increased too. Youtube had no other option from shifting the default video quality to standard definition amidst the sudden increase in traffic by millions of people thirsty for entertainment. The sudden increase in traffic in social media led to an outspread of misinformation and rumors that continue to spread like wild-fire. The Facebook-owned Whatsapp messenger had to limit message forwarding to counter coronavirus misinformation.

Many companies have struggled for the past few days of the lockdown wrestling with remote employees’ hardware configurations for those offices that primarily use a desktop to get their work done, their need to supply employees with company-owned laptops, or relying on those employees’ ones has become key stress-point. Slow shipping times and unavailability had only made this search for hardware more difficult.

Connecting employees to their office network is one thing while making sure that they have access to the data for them to work fluently is another. For system admins, project managers, and others it is important that the team knows where to find the information they need and that they can access it easily. “The digital workplace is dependent upon easy access to information and enterprise search is a critical component to any digital workspace,” says Alexander Bilger, CEO of Sinequa which has built a platform for hosting, retrieving, and analyzing internal data.

CONCLUSION

2020 has revealed to the world the real definition of the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention”. While it is difficult to predict what this current situation will mean long term, it will force most manufacturers to seriously rethink their operations. It will take some time for the operators to get accustomed to the “new normal” in the tech world and its inventions. “CIOs will have to go for tools to manage social distancing in companies. The AI-enhanced solution will have to be adapted to cater to the change in personal behavior” said Sanjay Narkar, Cheif Technology Officer, IDFC First Bank.

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