The impact of the corona virus is being felt throughout the world. The initial outbreak affected global supply chains but as it grows into a global pandemic the consequences are even less predictable and more far reaching.
The first among a string of industry conferences and keynotes to be cancelled as part of containment efforts was the Mobile World Congress, a seminal conference in the telecommunications industry. With more and more employees being asked to work from the industry faces the dilemma of delayed initiatives and missed opportunities. Unfortunately, the effect is going to be long lasting or at least over the coming year.
- What has been the immediate business impact is a major disruption to supply chains. Partial and full shutdowns of plants and factories resulted as people contracted the disease and others were forced into quarantine. Many of these plants and factories were being used by prominent technology companies to manufacture their goods and products. Apple is definitely going to see reduced iPhone shipments with a fall of at least 10%. The problem is that even if it did have a contingency plan to ramp up production in unaffected areas that is not going to happen in this scenario.
- Several of the most important tech conferences had to be called off due to the pandemic and this will result in missed partnership opportunities. Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is a cornerstone event in the connectivity industry and scheduled on February 24-27 in Barcelona, was called off. MWC brings together the most important companies to share innovations and forge new business partnerships. Other events to be cancelled were Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference; Google shifted their event to online as did IBM. These cancellations have caused massive economic losses in spite of online alternatives. The latter option does provide attendees similar opportunities to network.
- The growing importance of remote interactions especially in two important areas like telehealth and teleconferencing has highlighted a need for 5G technology because of its lightning-fast speeds and almost instantaneous communications. Success in remote consultations for patients during this period using 5G will probably result in more health care facilities take advantage of the benefits. Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and Zoom have employees switched to remote work and it is expected that the dependence on these tools during this period will strengthen the case for 5G connectivity in the home.
- The corona virus will encourage companies to use VR (Virtual Reality) as a tool to improve employee training. While the bigger companies have recommended that their employees work from home and delivery portals have limited non essential travel but it does inhibit collaborative effort and practical training. It is expected therefore that several business respondents will use VR.
- As governments have recommended office closures companies have decided to implement or expand employee work-from-home programs. Though they allow business continuity, but they also create increased cyber security risks. The recommended steps are to review and step up the cyber security controls to stay safe.
It is important for the Technology Industry to take immediate and adequate steps in order to mitigate the risk of suffering negative impacts from the corona virus.