The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the world economy, laying whole industries to waste and likely prompting a global recession on a similar scale to that which we saw in 2008. One thing, however, that is different from 2008, is the dominance of the technology industry worldwide.
Technology companies now make up many of the world’s most valuable organisations, employ vast numbers of workers and provide products and services to nearly every person and every organisation in the world. This, combined with the fact that with access to the outside world restricted, a large part of how we interface with the world is now through a screen, makes these companies more important than ever.
There are few things as reliable as the resourceful nature of the human race, and with every crisis comes new opportunities, as well as good news stories about people and organisations pulling together to tackle a common enemy. With that in mind, and with the world’s future looking a little grim, the big and important technology industry can provide some glimmers of hope.
Bucking the trend
For technology workers and organisations, some of the hopeful signs are clearer than others. There are, for example, a number of technology companies that have seen huge booms come out of the crisis. A commonly-cited example is video conferencing company Zoom, which has become a cultural phenomenon given how quickly it has become ubiquitous.
Zoom has faced some of the common issues that come with sudden, rapid expansion – things like extra scrutiny from governments, regulators and lawyers, as well as the technological challenges involved with suddenly being used by orders of magnitude more people.
Other technology outfits have seen booms: e-commerce providers, most notably of course Amazon, are doing well. This makes sense given that people still want or need to buy products, but aren’t able to get to physical shops. Another tech giant to see a benefit is Microsoft, whose Teams instant messaging product has seen a similar usage spike to Zoom, now that face-to-face contact is largely out of the question.
And on the non-professional front, companies like Netflix have witnessed growth too. Entertainment is now almost entirely indoors and screen-based, and Netflix – arguably the king of streaming – has seen a corresponding uplift. Disney+ has done well, too, meaning it’s not just technology companies, but companies which can utilise modern technology solutions, that will do well.
Although the increased usage and business is certainly good for those companies – and for the technology workers they employ – profit-making clearly is still not the primary concern. That, of course, is health and safety and beating the virus.
Technology outfits have helped here, too – most notably with their contributions towards solutions that can help track and trace the virus. Governments all over the world have been in conversation with Google and Apple about possible “contact-tracing” apps they can put into production. Given that these types of solutions appear to have had a positive effect in countries like Germany and South Korea, the work these companies are doing is clearly hugely important.
It’s also notable the extent to which these companies and the folks they employ have considered privacy when developing these apps. It’s come to the fore to such an extent that it’s a really serious consideration, even among the health crisis – suggesting that technology companies have finally got to the point where they consider privacy a number one priority.
There are others, too. Facebook, for instance, has upped its game on misinformation tracking and tackling services, doing its best to make sure its users only see verified, accurate information from authorities, rather than the false information that can so easily circulate on its platforms.
As lockdowns are likely to continue, companies that can offer services remotely are also likely to do better. That’s clear from the way in which e-commerce and streaming companies have seen such an explosion in use and – in some cases – profit.
And as technology companies are generally doing better than those in other industries, they may also recover more quickly and start hiring again more quickly. RedCat will be there, as it has been for nearly two decades, to help companies and staff find their right people and roles.