To slow down the spread of COVID-19, virtually every country has had to implement some form of quarantine measures. Limited movement and drastic drops in economic activity are putting businesses and entire industries under severe pressure. While many are struggling to even stay afloat, others are rising to the challenge by utilising digital technologies.
Digital platforms are empowering people and businesses to facilitate transactions without making physical, person-to-person contact. That gives us some opportunity to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19.
What can we learn from the specific applications of digital technologies during these challenging times?
E-commerce will continue to thrive
Widespread social distancing measures have not impeded companies like Amazon, Buyinvite and Popcherry from operating. While they have been consistently gaining market share in recent years, it’s likely that the pandemic will further bolster consumer confidence in using these e-commerce platforms.
These online services can serve as successful models for other companies (especially the ones that are mainly offline) to emulate and adapt to the new normal.
Online marketing will become a focal point in reaching customers. Whether it’s SEO services in Perth or pay-per-click advertising in New York, businesses can use innovative tools to effectively address customer needs and preferences through the digital landscape.
There is still a digital gap that needs to be bridged
Mobile broadband connections have been steadily improving throughout the years. With several major telecommunication companies developing 5G, the world is poised to benefit from faster connection speeds which will translate to more convenient online services.
However, there are still some regions and countries across the world that face several difficulties in going online, let alone accessing online services. This is especially true for low-income countries, where the mobile cellular subscription rate was 66 per 100 people in 2018, according to data from the World Bank.
Governments will need to find ways to better integrate its citizens into digital infrastructures. This will be important in ensuring everyone can take advantage of the burgeoning roster of online services.
Governments are embracing technology and revamping old systems
Digital platforms are not the exclusive domain of the private sector. Governments like Korea and Singapore have been using mobile devices to accurately track and identify people who have COVID-19.
In China, where the virus originated, the government has been using QR code technology to identify the individuals who are free to travel and the ones that should still remain in quarantine.
Many countries are looking to these examples to effectively contain the pandemic within their borders.
In addition, some basic government services can already be done online, such as filing of taxes, registering businesses and updating civil records. With the current situation, it’s likely that digital government services will further expand to other areas.
However, the issue of data privacy is expected to pervade the conversation long after COVID-19 has gone. Since it will be the first time for many countries to harness big data on its citizens, checks and balances should be in place to ensure proper handling of personal and sensitive information.
What lies ahead?
The future looks bright for digital, but in terms of the long-term effects on certain industries and workers, it’s not entirely clear at the moment. While embracing digital platforms is certainly the way to go, businesses and governments must also help in mitigating the harmful impact on some segments of the economy that cannot adapt as well as ot