When the coronavirus first broke out in China, there was a disruption to global supply chains. However, as this outbreak has developed into a worldwide pandemic, with more than 125,000 confirmed cases in 118 countries, there have been even less predictable and more far-reaching consequences.
Mobile World Congress, an influential telecommunications industry conference, was one of the first in a series of industry keynotes and conferences to be canceled as part of the efforts to contain the virus. With an increasing number of employees working remotely these days in communications companies such as Cybermo, the industry is faced with the possibility of missed partnership opportunities and delayed initiatives.
However, the technology and telecommunications industries also have found ways to help keep people healthy and safe – by making videoconferencing technology more widely available to scrambling companies, helping governments transmit accurate information about the virus to citizens, and finding ways for smart city technologies to fight the pandemic.
1. The most immediate and clearest business impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had was significantly disrupting the supply chains. China was hit hard due to the coronavirus originating there, as many citizens contracted the virus and were forced to go into quarantine. That led to full and partial shutdowns of factories and plants, with some of them being used by leading technology companies to produce their products and goods. Apple, for example, experienced iPhone supply shortages due to the fact that Foxconn, the company’s main manufacturer, having to shut down a lot of its production occurring in China.
2. Several important tech conferences have had to be cancelled due to the spread of coronavirus, which will most likely result in many missed partnership opportunities.
Mobile World Congress (MSC), most notably, was scheduled to occur in Barcelona on February 24-27. However, concerns about the virus caused it to be cancelled. Within the connectivity industry, the MWC is one of the cornerstone events since it brings together the industry’s leading companies to form new business partnerships, share innovations, and network. Several companies have rescheduled their planned MWC events. However, others have entirely cancelled them due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
3. The increased need for remote interactions due to the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the necessity for 5G technology, which over the long term could potentially accelerate its adoption.
The increased connection density, near-instantaneous communications, and lightning-fast speeds of 5G make is ideal for remote interaction, which for many enterprises and organisations have become top of mind as caution continues to increase due to the spread of the coronavirus.
4. The coronavirus may highlight potential virtual reality (VR) use cases in enterprises to boost the uptake of the technology. Coronavirus outbreaks have caused large tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple to mandate or recommend that their employees work from home. Also, companies such as Amazon have placed limits on nonessential employee travel to areas that are affected, including within the US, Italy, and China. Although during this pandemic it is the safest course to take, it does inhibit hands-on training and collaborative effort opportunities. As those disadvantages become clearer, many enterprises are searching for ways to smooth over these disruptions for their employees. Virtual reality will likely be one option they use.
5. Investing in smart city solutions is going to continue to increase as technology has proven to be an invaluable crisis management tool. Cities all over the world have used smart city technology to try to mitigate impacts from the coronavirus. Drones that have thermal sensors are being used by the police in China to identify individuals in public who are running a fever. A smartphone app has been developed by South Korea’s government that gets self-quarantined people in contact with caseworkers, which allows them to ask questions and report their progress. A chat box has been launched by the Australian government to limit the spread of disinformation and to address questions from citizens.