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WORLD AFFAIRS Digital solace during social distancing – Beginning to a new India

Apr 21, 2020

During this period of COVID-19 crisis, where the entire world is under the much-advocated social distancing phase, it also simultaneously facing trillions of losses. This opinion editorial explains how modern-day technologies can become the ultimate ‘thing’ that saves many companies from going down the rug.

From an endemic to an epidemic to now a pandemic, COVID-19 has affected close to 384,527 (according to March 20, 2020) people globally. While the IMF is forecasting a global recession, the UN has predicted a $2 trillion shortfall in the global income.

India, monitoring the present global and local situation, has declared itself under lockdown and has advised social distancing. This translates for the corporates & industries as shutting down its daily operations and billions and trillions of losses. What the corporate giants cease to understand is this period doesn’t necessarily have to bring in trillions of losses. In fact, this could possibly be a start to a much profitable future. If one asks how? Digitalisation is the answer. The country’s turtle paced adoption of digitalisation, if accelerated now, could help it match the global standards. To understand in what way it is possible, let’s reiterate the situation at hand.

Due to the unavoidable lockdown, various Indian organisations are complied to give a work-from-home (WFH) to their employees. Instead of worrying about productivity, communication, monitoring, etc, managers could view this as a golden chance to equip their employees with the tools for a WFH set-up and track productivity and implement it in the long run. According to a research report by Harvard, letting employees work from anywhere could add $1.3 billion of value to the US economy each year. Besides, it can help save $38.2m in office costs and save travel-time and help reduce the global footprint. If such is the data for the US, imagine the economic and environmental benefits it can bring to a country with a population of 133.92 cr. Technologies such as Google Hangouts, Zoom.us, GoToMeeting, Slack, etc. can help in enabling a smooth functioning virtual office set-up.

Not just the corporates, the Indian events & exhibitions industry, which has incurred losses of over ₹3000 crores since the pandemic, can actually start to monetise on this opportunity. By taking baby steps and following countries like the US and UK, the industry could introduce the concept of virtual exhibitions and conferences in India. A survey by Cisco suggests, 82% of all the internet traffic by 2022 will be consuming videos. Giants like Apple, who brought in an online format of its conference WWDC, received traction of 1.9 million viewers during its first run in 2019. With hyper-personalisation becoming the norm, virtual conferences and exhibitions can prove to be an effective, low-cost strategy. Though a novel concept for India, alternative real-time conferences could become a norm as it retains the crucial benefits of on-site conferences/exhibitions, like learning opportunities, sharing ideas and networking.

Technology, the major difference between the Spanish Flu that hit in 1918 and the coronavirus today, could help the
government and companies remain functional even during this period of adversity. India is presently in a better position to act on the implementation of digitalisation throughout the country due to the early implemented cautionary manoeuvres. If reckoned with slight optimism, this period of quarantine for India could conceivably be the beginning of a new, digitally advanced environment for various organisations.

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