Netflix allowed you to binge watch Money Heist Season 4 with a poor internet connection. Zoom let your professor have an online class longer than 40 minutes. Houseparty is adding new games to its already existing deck. Nobody ever wondered why, but the precursor behind all of them is ‘You Know Who’.
You must have read up articles suggesting how your family is the only constant thing in your life. Well, correct me if I am wrong, but the only aspect that will emerge unscathed from the global pandemic is Technology. Infact all the digital trends across the globe that were already ‘in-motion’, have now hit the fast-forward button. Further we will talk about which industries have turned the pandemic to its advantage, and their attempts to stay relevant once it subsides.
In 2019, India witnessed the emergence of co-working spaces along with the Wework fiasco grabbing eyeballs. The sudden shift to digital workplaces will act as the harbinger of Work From Home being the new normal. Slack, Trello, Zoom, Tomates are some of the tools that came to rescue the MSMEs (Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises) that never tried to culture in the idea of remote working. The panic is such that Zoom has become the second most downloaded application, but only for TikTok that still holds its ground. Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year, and are unproductive for 27 minutes per day on an average which is 10 minutes less than that of an in-office employee. But to transform this utopia into reality, digital workplaces must be incorporated in the era of close interaction and cooperation.
Moving on to the next predictable fallout, which is the cancellation of international tournaments and sports events including The Championships also known as Wimbledon. But, worry not! Esports have rushed in to the fill the void, and the audience has shifted from ESPN to COD. Esports is basically an umbrella term for multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. Growth of esports in India was already picking up pace, and the lockdown has only acted as an unexpected catalyst to it. People are tuning in to everything from Counter-Strike to League of Legends. Viewership on Twitch, the go-to site for game streamers, was up 31% with total amount of hours watched jumping from 33 million to 43 million in a fortnight.
Online streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video are among the other gainers in this crisis, because their only competition in the industry is the revival of Ramayana lol. On March 24, 2020, users on netflix.com were up by 16% from the average on January 21, a report by The New York Times suggests. However, they have not tried to exploit their users, instead they extended a helping hand to its peer Telecom industry. They have adopted a system called an adaptive bitrate streaming, that adjusts the quality of the video in accordance with the bandwidth. This allows the user to watch an unbuffered video in inferior quality rather than watch the circular loading animation. Netflix has been doing this in the past as well, and has made it more intense during the crisis. Amazon, YouTube and other giants followed suit. This will help the telecos effectively handle the increased demand.
Surprisingly, this crisis has made the multinational corporates introspect their values. From video-streaming companies making content available early, to online education providers granting free access to classes, to Microsoft allowing corporates to use its cloud for storage and brewers switching production from beer to hand sanitizer to be given away, many companies are taking actions that bring them closer to customers and exhibit admirable corporate values.
The charts have risen or fallen tremendously in the span of a few weeks. Some of these trends are novel. Masses avoiding crowded restaurants will encourage food delivery, taxis will be deemed safer than crowded public transport, home grocery delivery will be seen as less risky than crowded supermarkets. This also implies a need for more gig economy workers. But are these trends promising enough to sustain for long after the pandemic? There’s the cliffhanger and my cue to leave.