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Technology and COVID-19

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Introduction

This year of COVID has changed the technology landscape in some unexpected ways. It has accelerated some trends and put others on hold. This article will look at some of the trends that have emerged as a result of people staying close to home, maintaining social distance and worrying about infectious diseases.

Online Shopping Takes Over

The big COVID lottery winner is Amazon. Their sales have skyrocketed as either physical stores are closed due to COVID or people don’t want to risk going out and being exposed. Amazon isn’t the only winner here, Shopify, eBay and a number of others are doing great as well. This trend from physical stores to online has been in the works for years, but COVID has suddenly accelerated it. Quite a few retailers that were slow to transition to have an online component have failed this year, sadly including Vancouver’s favorite MEC.

Outdoor Recreation is Hot

If you already bike or kayak, you have probably noticed that getting parts or repairs is difficult. Sales of anything that can get you outside, but physically distanced have exploded. Bikes, kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards and hiking equipment have exploded and many items are on backorder for months. It’s good to see people taking up all these healthy activities, but a lot of people feel there are going to be some great deals on resales of these once COVID goes away. The big technology winner here is electric bikes where the technology has become good enough to make these usable and affordable. Combined with route tracking apps, people are using these more and more. They get you outside and are far better for the environment than driving around.

Computer Sales

Pundits have been predicting the death of the desktop and laptop computer for years now. In recent years PC sales have been starting to fade. COVID reversed that trend completely. People suddenly need good computers at home to work and sales are way up this year. This isn’t only for low end systems either, many companies are subsidizing employees upgrading their home systems, allowing them to buy better gaming computers with the benefit that they are more productive on higher performance computers.

Games and Gaming Systems

Games and gaming systems are selling great. There have been some games like Microsoft Flight Simulator that hit the market just right. With Flight Simulator you can virtually fly anywhere in the world at a time when COVID has pretty well shut down real flying and vacationing. Microsoft and Sony are really hoping COVID will be around for XMas as they release their next generation gaming consoles and are expecting great sales. Speaking of Flight Simulator, and related accessories like plane yolks are sold out and won’t be available again for months. Meanwhile AMD and nVidia are in the process of releasing their next generation graphics cards ready to be incorporated in new high-end gaming computers.

The Cloud

With everyone suddenly working at home, companies that already had their internal systems running in the cloud found themselves with an advantage since employees could easily access these systems easily from anywhere. Companies with their business systems running internally were suddenly challenged with the online demands and a sudden surge in hacking aimed at them as hackers exploited companies opening systems to at-home use without putting all the necessary security measures in place. The growth of cloud usage has continued to explode with Amazon (which just can’t lose), Microsoft and Google getting the most benefit.

The End of Manual Systems

People working at home can’t access physical paper filing systems or access manual systems like whiteboards. People can’t just pop in back to check on the availability of an inventory item. Anyone that hasn’t automated all their business systems suddenly ran into huge problems as all their employees had to struggle as they worked from home, but didn’t have access to all the information they needed to do their jobs. All the ERP type vendors are having a good year as these companies scury to automate all these manual processes. This isn’t easy as most of these types of transformations can take years. This is one of the leading causes for all the bankruptcies we are seeing.

Online Training

With COVID, people can’t attend training classes. Working at home people had to suddenly switch from older versions of MS Office to Office 365 or Google Apps to effectively work from home while keeping their work available to the company. All these people needed to update their skills and online training became the only option. Even my amateur radio club had to transition from in-person ham radio courses to online courses. A lot of the reviews of these courses are quite negative, but out of necessity they have been improving. More people are learning to offer YouTube channels and PodCasts. Sales of home broadcasting equipment like microphones, good cameras and software have been strong. Popular tools like Zoom only go so far and managing a class online takes skill and practice. Expect that once the bugs are worked out, that this change will be permanent.

Summary

This article looked at a few of the effects COVID has had on technology and people’s lives. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last or how long before we hit the next pandemic. It will be interesting to see how many of these trends stick, accelerate or die out. A lot of people have suffered during the pandemic, but as this article shows, others have prospered.

Written by smist08

October 2, 2020 at 11:34 am

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