Different ways the tech and services industry could be transformed post COVID19 Pandemic

Shiwani Prakash

Remember the good old days of 2019, when the biggest concerns were geopolitical tensions, tariff, trade wars and so on? When unemployment rates were at all-time lows and stock markets were at all-time highs? COVID-19 whooshed us into a different world this year. As, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020, there have been more than 187,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in more than 7,400 deaths (at that time). The coronavirus outbreak is undoubtedly a story of human tragedy, but it will cause significant harm to the economy, too – and the true scale of this cost has only just started to emerge.

The global pandemic brought an abrupt halt to many of our rising trajectories by the end of the first quarter of 2020. Work-from-home mandates, social-distancing requirements and government-ordered closing of non-essential businesses all took their toll. The spread of the virus is impacting countries at different rates, with each appearing to go through a similar pattern of disease phases. Governments around the world are having to act quickly and decisively to protect vulnerable citizens and limit the damage to their economies.

For now, we have to hold tight and isolate in our homes. Sitting at home all day long, reading the daily news grind, as well as the technology trades, I have had some time to think about what the potential long-term impacts of this watershed event

will have on our industry and also society as a whole. Here are the things which will be transformed post COVID19 pandemic.

5G on pause - Yes, the nation's wireless and broadband infrastructure needs to be modernized. Almost certainly, the 4G LTE infrastructure we had for supporting a heavily mobile workforce and society was approaching its limits in its ability to handle increased capacity and the demands of modern mobile applications. However, whatever grand plans we thought telecom giants had for rolling out national 5G infrastructure is almost certainly now on indefinite hold given the substantial economic slowdown that is going to occur.

Cloud as critical supporting infrastructure for the crisis and beyond - Cloud capacity, especially from the hyperscale vendors -- Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, and IBM Cloud -- is what is going to get us through this storm. With a remote, home-based workforce, remote desktop technologies will be essential until native born-in-the-cloud applications can run core business functions. Legacy vertical industry Windows client-server apps are problematic and will need to be refactored and rewritten entirely for PaaS, or SaaS. This will occur using enabling technologies such as containerization and microservices because VMs and IaaS are computationally very expensive.

Rethinking priorities in the personal and business computing form factor - If more people are spending time at home, then the notion of smartphones as primary content consumption and communications device also needs to be re-evaluated. Additionally, expensive laptops and convertibles no longer make sense for the majority of end-users if the workforce is no longer mobile and commuting to work. In essence, desk work is better accomplished with a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Microsoft should also be shifting its priorities from the Surface line of products -- especially the expensive Surface Duo and Surface Neo which few organizations and end-users will be able to afford -- to an Azure-optimized, cloud-provisioned terminal device that can be connected to any monitor(s), mouse, and keyboard. An Azure desktop service should be priced accordingly with the device for both consumers as well as corporations with volume commercial cloud agreements.

The decade of the 2020s is certainly off to a dramatic start. We don’t know what lies ahead as the pandemic rocks our global economy. Will we discover effective treatment to make the virus less lethal, or develop a vaccine in time to protect against a possible second wave? Will customer behaviour change permanently? What’s clear is COVID-19 will impact the technology and business services industry dramatically in the nearer term.

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