COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are all now looking for the silver lining. Cloud services are an obvious one, with Microsoft reporting an eye watering 775% increase in use of its cloud services, and a related uplift in use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Virtual Desktop. And they seem to be keeping pace with demand.
Technology companies across the world are benefitting. Slack, the collaboration and work organisational application has added 9,000 new customers in the last couple of weeks. Zoom is booming and, along with Cisco WebEx has seen increased traffic force the FCC to intervene so that its main traffic carrier does not trigger an automatic increase in tariffs due to the increase.
This, of course, is no silver lining for many sectors that may never fully recover from COVID-19. The airline industry is an obvious casualty and now, in many countries, the horticultural industry is about to hit a major problem. The majority of a horticultural business’ balance sheet is tied up in plants. And plants will die if they cannot be sold and planted.
There are ‘softer’ areas where a silver lining can be seen and it is these that might stop us from going back to our previous lives, without delay. Carbon levels are dropping at a rate that would take Greta Thunberg by surprise. The canals in Venice are blue and full of fish (not dolphins, they were fake news). Other, climate based benefits are emerging.
The question will become – over the next weeks and months – to what extent use of cloud services will continue and to what extent we think before we travel. And, will we continue to drive the gaming sector ever upwards?
Gerd Leonhard, the futurist, wrote an interesting piece ‘looking back’ on 2020, from the end of the year. He believes that, while we will never replace human interaction (it is the one thing he craves), remote working and remote meetings will embed into our lives to a much greater extent. You can also imagine that finance and HR people will use the cost savings of cloud based services to maintain the restrictions on travel for the foreseeable future.
Whatever the next few weeks and months bring, it is pretty clear that various parts of the technology sector are being given a huge boost (although telecoms roaming revenues will take a big hit). One observer likened the moment to ‘much of the world being instrumented like an IoT trial’ and one that seems to be holding up well, for the moment.
It will be interesting to see how prescient Leonhard will prove at the end of the year, but if there is a silver lining to this thing, it will almost certainly be in the cloud.