It came. It spread. It conquered.
Ever since Wuhan reported its patient zero for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in November, 2019, the world has not been able to heave a sigh of relief. The virus has penetrated and continues to penetrate into receptacles of almost every country you can name – the burden being distributed asymmetrically. The streets have been deserted, flights and trains have been suspended, companies have come to a standstill, and the common man has been trapped inside the four walls of his own house – for a period of time that even the highest authorities are unable to state. Quarantine and social distancing have taken the role of those uninvited guests in our day-to-day life, who barge inside without a knock. Hygiene and sanitisation practices have taken birth as a new religion, while people all around are going frenzy over immunity boosting techniques. As healthcare and pharma giants worldwide struggle to find a potential cure, SMEs and start-ups are also joining forces and working round-the-clock amid this invisible battle – or rather microscopically-visible battle. Albeit, keeping the possibility of mass commercial availability of a viable vaccine at bay, let us break down and scrutinise the consequences of this pandemic on businesses – sector by sector.
As we speak, the domino effect of coronavirus continues to propagate all around the world at a rapid pace. India’s giant IT services companies see a significant slowdown in growth during this fiscal year as they grapple with the upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Top software solution providers – Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Larsen and Toubro Infotech (LTI), Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) Technologies, Course 5 Intelligence, Infosys, Atos, and Wipro – will be impacted by reduced technology spending by clients in the US and Europe following lockdowns across the globe. IT Firm Accenture lowered its growth forecast to three to six per cent from earlier proclaimed six to eight per cent, due to business impact. Brokerage HDFC securities expects revenue of the IT sector to reduce by two to seven per cent due to a slowdown in decision making in the next six months while businesses evaluate the impact of the virus that is disrupting the economy globally. In the near future, IT companies could feel the heat of pricing pressure, revenue loss due to lockdown (in India and many countries globally), client bankruptcy, and slower client decision making led by lower discretionary spends.
Work-from-home (WFH) is becoming the new norm. Indian IT industry made employees WFH as per government’s mandate. The IT industry transitioned to WFH model rather smoothly providing business continuity to clients without lowering quality or productivity, much to the surprise of industry leaders and customers alike. Although it was rough during the initial few weeks, handling office tasks amidst the household chores; right now, industries and employees have adapted themselves to this new lifestyle completely, and feel more comfortable working from home now, rather than on-premise. Two reasons for this smooth transition were IT industry’s strict adherence to quality processes and availability of communication bandwidth both in metros and in small towns. Most of the tech firms are embracing this pattern happily, keeping in mind the safety of employees, with Amazon extending its WFH upto October 2, Google and Facebook upto December 31, and Twitter’s Square for an indefinite period of time even after corona.Add alt text
Microsoft Teams, a communication platform provider, saw an unprecedented 775 per cent rise in users because of COVID-19, as more and more people make use of online video conferences. Zoom, another modern enterprise video communications platform provider, had only 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019. The numbers surpassed 200 million in January 2020, and more than 300 million in February 2020. However, of late, Zoom has become questionable for a growing number of security and privacy concerns as activities such as Zoom-bombing and leakage recorded meetings. Schools in NYC banned Zoom for their online lectures, where as Google no longer allows its user to access Zoom.