The pandemic outbreak has challenged the existing status quo, demanding a colossal shift in trade culture. In light of it, we spoke to Devang Mundhra, CTPO, KredX about the role of technology in combatting the pandemic outbreak and its impact on organisational level. Here’s an in-depth article co-authored by Devang Mundhra & the KredX Editorial team.
The line between fact and fiction started to appear blur as the news of a deadly virus outbreak in China hit the international headlines. Within a matter of weeks, the rapid spread and aggravation of the contagion took the entire world by surprise – just like a chronicle of a pandemic outbreak unfolding in a fiction movie.
Mass quarantines, stringent lockdowns, food shortages, and deserted towns – it became almost astonishing to believe that what seemed to be only a fictional concept appears to be a real-life threat. Amidst this perfect storm situation, what seems to be different is the accessibility and use of innovative technology that can, and in a lot of ways are, proving to be instrumental in combating the pandemic outbreak. It is a known fact that technology plays a pivotal part during crisis and emergencies.
Technology – A Game Changer In Combatting The Pandemic
The pandemic outbreak has impacted nearly all sectors, exposing the vulnerabilities of many nations. Several countries are collapsing due to the rapid spread and aggravation of COVID-19, whereas on the other hand, countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and China successfully curb the outbreak. One thing, however, common between countries that quickly controlled the pandemic is the use of cutting-edge technology combined with data and algorithms.
A critical element in their countermeasure has been the widespread collection and use of data like location, health records, social circle, contact tracing, telecom data to ensure the safety of its citizens at low cost and large scale. These data are used in conjunction with algorithms developed by either private companies, government research labs, or both to allow them to follow different kinds of strategies. And, it’s only a matter of time that this strategy will become a case study for other countries to follow and replicate. Hence a lot of focus will be towards the data collection and processing capabilities of the government. There might be additional capacities added to collect data like putting up more and varied sensors at different places to feed into a common data repository.
Data Collection & Security Challenges
Contrarily, the massive data collection will raise privacy concerns with debates around tradeoffs leading to questions on security, for instance, privacy vs health, privacy vs safety, and such. It is because this pool of data that is getting built will become a lucrative resource for private companies. On the home grounds, India is already on the path to consent-based data sharing for financial data, and that framework might get leveraged for others.
The ripples of the pandemic outbreak are being felt across industries and markets. Despite the aggressive measures and collective endeavours initiated by authorities, COVID-19 continues to challenge the global ecosystem, triggering massive health crisis and hitting businesses across industries. The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of the business ecosystem. However, this isn’t the first time that the business ecosystem has been subjected to downturns. The dotcom burst in 2001, the financial crisis of 2008, demonetization in 2016, and COVID-19 in 2020 along with many domestic and international natural disasters will compel businesses to plan for much longer. Businesses will get affected by the whole new norm of remote working; however, many of the issues pertaining to it will get addressed in the short term.
The Functional Impact Of The Pandemic In Organisations
Post the pandemic world will wake up to a new trade culture. Companies will be required to think about risk management much more acutely. They will begin looking at uncertainty with a different lens given the accelerating trends of black swan events – whether financial, political, biological, or natural. On the domestic front, the nationwide lockdown and exodus of migrant workers will have a long-term consequence on the economy, and India will lose its edge of low labour cost. Hence, companies will have to start relying a lot on automation – starting from factories to processes.
In the near future, business continuity plans will get tested in different scenarios. Hybrid remote working will become prevalent and several companies will be seen charting out ways to keep the team productive and motivated during such an environment. This outbreak has just tested companies when physical movement was restricted, but companies will test their resilience against different scenarios or networks being down, or borders getting closed, and such. Many productivity technology products will see newer growth opportunities as more businesses adopt such tools in response to changing workplace culture and business requirements. These products might get further refined to be a niche for specific verticals or workflows.
On the other hand, products will also need to adapt to seamless movement of data between different data stores which might evolve into standardized interfaces for certain kinds of data. The rapid spread of information via messaging mediums has proven yet again the level of adoption of basic technologies even at the bottom of the pyramid and many companies will leverage that to create business opportunities whether in payments, education, gaming etc. Security will become a key issue as many new to digital users will face an onslaught of hackers trying to take advantage of their unfamiliarity with the digital landscape. In such an ecosystem, the tech companies will need to be even more aware and take proactive steps not to only protect their own systems but also their users from malicious activity.
Going forward, companies will need to become more responsive to situations given the speed at which information starts to spread and impact their markets and supply chain. The post-coronavirus world will wake up to a different trade culture and experience a surge of digital tools in the workplace to manage remote working scenarios and improving responsiveness to fast-changing external circumstances.