Since Monday after the President’s announcement of the lockdown, I’ve worked from home — had a video call meeting with business executives from nine Asian countries, conducted my graduate school class using an online collaboration tool, and electronically met with some clients and partners.
Business and life will never be the same after COVID-19. For 30 days from the start of the Luzon lockdown in Philippines, residents of the largest island of the country as well in key cities will be living their lives and conducting their business differently. We’re already seeing how this dire situation is affecting the way we work, communicate, worship, buy, bank, learn, play, and even consult with doctors.
Digital means are obviously the way to go to conduct our lives during these times. Tech companies are leading the way, offering free use of their applications for several months. For a limited period, companies like Microsoft, Zoom, Google, and Cisco are giving away the use of their communication and collaboration tools for workers and employees working from home to still conduct their job functions. Social media is rife with posts showing managers and employees meeting online.
FB Live and IG Live have already witnessed a two-fold increase in usage over the last few days, as told by Mark Zuckerberg in his recent IG Live. He said that health care workers are using FB Live to communicate with patients, doctors, and love-ones of patients.
Technology has also caught up with the way people worship. Catholic bishops responded to the government policy by deciding to set up a live stream of Holy Mass celebrations instead of opening churches’ doors until April 14.
In financial services, local banks have been heavily promoting their digital banking apps in social media. In my company, we have deployed GCash to all of our remote workers for ease of money transfers.
In the area of learning, companies and institutions have stepped up to provide free elearning content and access to learning management systems. US-based elearning firm, Cypher Learning, is making its platform free for 30 to 60 days locally to schools and organizations wanting to convert their traditional face-to-face learning to digital. Another US-based online learning platform, Coursera, is making its 3,800 courses available globally at no cost to any university impacted by COVID-19. More than 700 textbooks have been made freely available online by Cambridge University Press until the end of May this year to help affected students.
Apps for entertainment are likewise seeing huge jumps. First-time installs of Netflix’s app were up more than 50% across the globe according to reports. Other entertainment apps are also seeing tremendous growths in usage.
But the multifold jump in the use of digital platforms and apps all over the world has resulted in the clogging of the internet and telecommunications networks, which are not ready in the crisis we’re facing. This has worsened the already-sorry-state of internet in the country.
But technology itself has its way of addressing such limitations through innovation. One such innovation is from global tech firm, NetFoundry, which renders the slow and tradition virtual private network (VPN) obsolete, by optimizing how work-from-home workers use apps over the internet and cloud. This will usher the world to a new and faster way of communication and collaboration in the age of remote work and elearning.
With improvement in connectivity, lies increased demand and faster improvements in others. Advancements in augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) will accelerate to make virtual meetings and online learning richer and more effective. Organizations will likewise accelerate their move to the cloud to enhance their business continuity plans and access to apps for remote workers. Digital banking, online shopping, and last-mile logistics will become more ubiquitous
In the coming months, people and organizations will forced to adopt digital technologies to conduct their businesses and everyday lives. This will be the new normal.
Reynaldo C. Lugtu, Jr. is CEO of Hungry Workhorse Consulting, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the Country Representative of the Institute of Change and Transformation Professionals Asia (ICTPA) and Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He is the Chairman of the Information and Communications Technology Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines. He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be e-mailed at email@example.com