Tech Is Not Only Surviving — It’s Thriving in the Coronavirus Crisis

March 26, 2020 - 7 minutes read

medical app developerAlthough the world is freaking out over the coronavirus, self-quarantining, and the effects of the virus on the global economy, there are some businesses that are poised to come out of the dust stronger than ever.

San Francisco and Seattle tech giants, like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, are doing particularly well during this pandemic. Amazon recently announced its intention to hire 100,000 new warehouse workers to meet the greatly increased demand the platform is experiencing. Facebook says its video calling traffic and private messaging have soared. And Microsoft’s Teams software, an online collaboration tool, spiked tremendously in the past week.

It looks like we may need to worry about small businesses and startups more than the big tech companies.

Doubling Down on Digital Services

In self-isolation, many Amazon customers are ordering grocery and over-the-counter medicine delivery.

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Netflix and YouTube’s streaming numbers have seen a considerable bump recently, to the point where European officials asked both companies to reduce their video quality for streaming for 30 days so they don’t hog up the bandwidth throughout the continent.

Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were the strong contenders in cloud computing for enterprises, and they’ve continued to grow with more and more companies utilizing their data centers as employees shift to remote work.

According to Microsoft executives, this sudden, global shift to remote work will completely change “how we work and learn.”

Facebook’s WhatsApp app is mediating more voice calls than ever. Although the app and Facebook see a large spike in user engagement on New Year’s Eve, the coronavirus spike is well beyond the typical New Year’s Eve traffic.

Daniel Ives is managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities. He says, “The largest tech companies could emerge on the other side of this much stronger.”

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One Step Forward & Two Steps Back?

But that’s not to say the same large tech companies and many others aren’t floundering due to the self-isolation mandates. Combined, the stocks of Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have lost $1 trillion in market value since the recent U.S. stock market crashes.

Uber and Lyft are experiencing major slumps due to people socializing less. Airbnb’s customer base has essentially vanished as users shelter in place, only leaving their home for groceries or restaurant take-out.

Globally, the world economy (which was at $3.9 trillion last year) is expected to suffer greatly this year. It’s not certain how badly the economy will be hurt, but we’ll likely not experience any overall growth globally.

What’s also unknown is how long this war against the virus will last. If people don’t follow self-isolation guidelines well enough, we may be experiencing virus-related problems until the end of the year. However, when life returns to normal for most people, the tech giants will benefit from users who changed their consuming habits during the quarantine.

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Michael Crowe, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., ordered groceries from Amazon a few days ago for the first time ever to avoid going out to the local supermarket. “I could see myself doing it longer-term when this is over,” Crowe said.

Indeed, when most of the tech giants post their final numbers at the end of the year, they’ll likely be the ones showing a profit, while many other companies, large and small, will declare bankruptcy.

Problems With Medical Applications

One major part of the coronavirus pandemic is the lack of access to adequate medical services, resources, and facilities. With Trump declaring a national emergency, the red tape has been peeled off of many medical rules and regulations.

And because the major tech giants have their hands in almost every single new and emerging technology, they’re able to provide high-quality tools and resources as part of the medical development effort.

For example, previously, privacy rules prevented health care companies and providers from using video chat features created by Apple and Facebook. Now, even though the tech giants all have a problem with data privacy, encryption, and security, it’s easier for doctors and patients to get in touch with each other without having to jump through a lot of hoops.

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Congressmen and congresswomen hope that the new way of telehealth conferencing and remote monitoring during this crisis will carry over as the new and normal way of managing health. And it’s not as easy as turning on the webcam for a patient consultation: telehealth providers will need to be current on federal rules and guidelines for screening and treating coronavirus. Providers will also need to be trained on patient comfort, using the technology, and troubleshooting the software.

Privacy advocates fear that these lax guidelines will increase the risk for leaks and hacks of private and sensitive health data. These experts fear that the health system will rely on telehealth much more after the pandemic, and there are not enough laws and regulations governing the use of these conferencing systems and the data they generate.

An Era of Uncertainty for Business

It’s extremely uncertain how the next few days, weeks, and months are going to go. We will definitely see many businesses shutter their doors, while bigger companies thrive throughout and after the pandemic.

One thing is clear: the better a business can adapt to the changing times, the better its chances for making it out alive.

What do you think of how the coronavirus has changed the tides of business? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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