• Sarita Agarwal

My Musings on A Year Gone By

Reflecting on a world transformed by the novel coronavirus pandemic


Great Reset of Human Life and Industry

While the immediate psycho-socio-economic disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating and shocking with a sudden loss of human lives worldwide, lockdowns throwing the businesses into turmoil and paralyzing commercial activities, overwhelmed healthcare systems, loss of jobs and livelihoods; and presented unprecedented challenges for public health and safety, global economy, food systems and the world of work; the human race has been able to survive, sustain and adapt to the transformed natural world.


The threat and challenges are by no means over, what with the new strains of the virus threatening another wave of the spread and forcing a fresh set of restrictions. Moreover, scientists say, new, equally destructive diseases could paralyse humanity in the future, just as the coronavirus has done in 2020. Even now with the promise of a vaccine, complete recovery could be years away for some sectors. However, we are also witnessing transforming human relationships with nature at multiple levels and across a wide range of contexts.


Another side of the coin: A Digital-Borderless-World

We have a rare window of opportunity to reimagine and rest our world, and digital technology is demonstrating the successful alternatives. Sectors that rethink and redesign their operations will be best equipped to perform and drive growth in the next normal.


While on one hand stay-at-home advisory has sharply reduced demand for travel, the growing penchant for internet-based services is making up for the losses. 'Virtual' business models and push for cashless transactions is propelling the e-commerce industry with consumers buying daily necessities, web & mobile based investment and trading platforms driving the global trading communities, viewership for videos and sports events, and videoconferences on social media are on the rise.


Companies of all sizes are trying to radically change their business models and the ways their employees work, by encouraging their staff to work remotely from home using digital tools and solutions for seamless connectivity. Larger companies are leveraging cloud-based corporate information management services and pushing even more aggressively for telecommuting by their employees. Events, seminars and lecture sessions are increasingly held online. Conventional brick-and-mortar businesses are leveraging digital marketing solutions to extend their reach beyond local markets and try to unlock the huge potential of the hitherto untapped broader international markets.


The rapid adoption of digital governance and business model is also providing avenues for social and economic well-being. For instance, not only can substantial savings be achieved in fixed overheads brought on by a reduced need of large office spaces, "rethink" of having 'physical' branch offices, local and global travel by corporate employees; but also, better work-life balance and reduced density of already over-crowded urban centres.


Acceleration of Digital Learning Ecosystem

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation in education like never before, shifting from important to essential in a very short span of time. It also exposed the brutal gap between the "digital haves" and the "digital have-nots" in the education sector. In a bid to address the problem and speed up digital transformation in education, some local and regional governments have been distributing laptops and tablets to children from low-income homes, along with 4G wireless routers to help boost internet access. Though many schools, colleges and universities have been left playing catch-up, digital learning platforms on web and mobile are helping all educational organization types.


Drawing upon our insights from having successfully executed a few cloud-based e-learning solutions for start-ups and enterprises, these "live-streamed learning experiences" are helping students to get full access to course content. Students are also interacting with the teachers through online classrooms.


Other e-learning possibilities for businesses comprise solutions such as web portals which serve as a one-stop-shop wherein customers can browse through a series of high-quality on-demand videos ranging from product demos, industry-wide best practices, optimum utilization use cases of tools and services, and even topical deep dives led by solution experts and evangelists.



Still, we have a long way to go for the benefits of online learning to be available for a larger population of children and diverse user segments. This presents both an enormous challenge and a great opportunity. Together, as all governments seek to build a strong recovery from the pandemic, the power of the digital technology can be harnessed as a true equalizer and enabler in a manner that is affordable, safe and inclusive.


Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the references made to various articles, white papers, scientific studies and research work for the compilation of this essay.


Gratitude

Thank you to all the healthcare workers but also the human beings behind the PPE for your relentless and selfless service and dedication, want to encourage you to continue;

To all our clients who supported us and continued with us, we want to continue to add value;

To all our team members, vendors and service providers who have ensured continuity;

To our families and friends for your endless love and support.


This is the first of a mini-series of short essays.