When I sit down to write these columns once a month, even if the topic I decide to write about is not all sunshine and roses, I always try and look for a silver lining. I’m simply not able to do that on this occasion.
Besides personally losing a close family member during the countrywide April lockdown, Technews Publishing lost its CEO. The obituary written by the Technews directors on the page opposite says it all; the only thing I have to add is I will always remember Vivienne for her grace under pressure, her enormous courage and the respect she showed towards her employees under all circumstances.
This comes amidst the continuing global tragedy that every reader will be able to relate to – I know we’re all sick of the coronavirus word, but COVID-19 is really the most important issue facing the world right now and might, in fact, be one of the most devastating, life-changing threats humankind has ever faced. There is no doubt that it will change the way we live and interact – possibly forever.
Besides the disruptions that have already shaken global supply chains, the demand for most electronic goods is unlikely to recover quickly. I just can’t imagine that getting the latest smartphone from our favourite brand is going to be all that important for most people for the foreseeable future.
Consumer, industrial and automotive electronics are expected to be hardest hit and the article Electronics industry tackling the coronavirus digs into some other aspects, but it is also interesting to think about the role that technology is playing and will continue to play in the recovery.
In a recent CNN interview, Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, said one of the dominant themes of our times is the conjunction of data and digitalisation and it is interesting to consider the fact that modern technologies are playing a vital part in enabling us to survive this crisis. I just have to think about all the electronics that enable me to write (or rather, type) these words, upload the finished document, have it formatted by our production department, and all the other things that have to come together for you to be reading these words.
Business owners and executives the world over are trying to imagine ways to do things differently, or change tack entirely to keep their businesses afloat, but the brutal truth is some types of companies, by their very nature, are better suited to the new reality than others – think of a brick-and-mortar store versus an online retailer. Which brings me right back around to all those technologies that make it possible for people to order from those online retailers in the first place and have their orders delivered to their doors, even during lockdown in some cases.
The world’s leading epidemiologists are saying COVID-19 will be around until the end of 2021 at the most optimistic end of the scale. Until someone comes up with a vaccine – which usually takes several years of research, trials and red tape to achieve – social distancing, working from home and other preventative measures are going to be a fact of life. Even as industries scramble to find ways to keep running and reimagine what the ‘new normal’ will look like, there is no silver-bullet solution to this problem and disruptions will continue for many months to come.
Some companies will survive this and some will not. Some jobs will survive, some will not. Some people will survive, some will not. Those are the realities we’ve been confronted with and had to come to terms with in a very short time. Things will never be the same again.
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