This guest post was written by Casey Christopher.
The pandemic has changed the world forever. Aside from challenging the entire world by unleashing an unrelenting virus, COVID-19 has also simultaneously served as a catalyst for the 5th Industrial Revolution. Not only has it changed the way we function as societies, but it also sped up the adoption of new technology across all industries, leading the IoT into a more mature state.
It’s also becoming clearer that tech will help the world recover from the economic effects of the virus, too.
How the pandemic has affected the global and local economy
There’s no overstating just how much COVID-19 has devastated economies across the world. The virus has pushed New Zealand into its worst recession in years, with the country’s GDP shrinking by 12.2 percent between April and June 2020 as the lockdown and border closures were implemented. Reports show that it was New Zealand’s first recession since the global financial crisis and its worst since 1987, back when the current system of measurement began.
The same thing happened in many other countries, driving the world to experience the deepest global recession in decades, despite the efforts of governments to counter the downturn. The World Bank notes that there was a 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP, and the pandemic is expected to leave lasting scars through lower investment, depletion of human capital through lost jobs and schooling, and fragmentation of global trade and supply linkages.
Emerging tech that is helping economies recover
Now that the world is trying to recover from the devastating impacts the economy has previously thrown us, the silver lining is that there are emerging technologies that will help speed up recovery.
Online retail driving spending
Since the pandemic necessitated the need for lockdowns and stringent social distancing measures, online sales skyrocketed. People resorted to buying goods and services over the internet, making it a win-win for retailers that have solid online platforms. It’s evident in nations like China where online retail grew exponentially.
Despite experiencing a 1.1 percent dip in overall retail sales, the share of physical consumer goods sold online in China climbed from about 19 percent last year to 25 percent. This is mainly due to live stream-driven online shopping. This new method of interactive streaming is being used on sites like Alibaba’s Taobao Live, Kuaishou, and ByteDance’s Douyin. Pre-pandemic, live streaming only accounted for about 7 percent of China’s online sales, but it doubled since retail has primarily moved online. Additionally, China’s broad logistics network and back-end technology have enabled them to offer better customer service to consumers, driving growth even further.
Connected vehicles improving the supply chain
The impact of connected vehicles on the supply chain is far-reaching. These types of vehicles include cars equipped with tech like computer navigation, GPS technology, camera technology, and sensor technology. They have made current transportation methods more effective, resulting in the supply chain becoming more streamlined.
In Australia in particular, connected vehicles are becoming more prevalent. These cars have an internet connection, allowing them to “talk” to other vehicles. A Verizon Connect feature on connected vehicles details how the technology can help drivers become more efficient in avoiding traffic congestion, improve safety by getting data alerts from other drivers regarding dangers on the road, ensure they are comply with road regulations, and so much more. With this type of smart vehicle used in a supply chain, economic recovery will be accelerated thanks to the significant boost in efficiency. Businesses will also be able to better serve their customers and manage a more reliable return on assets and vehicles, and drivers will get to maintain safer driving habits.
Investment in ICT
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is something that shouldn’t be seen as a frivolity, but a necessity, especially in these trying times. Considering how technology is embraced in all aspects of life, investing in ICT can have massive economic significance. It can pave the way for better ways for people to communicate, network, gain access to important information, learn, and find help.
In an effort to quickly bounce back from COVID-19, Singapore has pledged to continue investing in innovation and technology to create new business and employment opportunities. Experts believe that this move will help revive the growth of the ICT market, accelerating digitalisation and promoting the wider adoption of technology across industries in the country. The country’s Ministry for Communications and Information is ramping up investments in high-quality infrastructure like the 5G network, which then provides the necessary foundation for the development of innovative applications and services, as well as their implementation by enterprises.
There’s no doubt about it—tech is at the heart of economic recovery. Even New Zealand, with its large collaborative tech ecosystem, is paving the way for a more productive and sustainable economy. For instance, fintech services in the country are leading the way to post-recovery as people start looking for newer and more convenient ways to work, earn, buy, account, and invest. The Digital Council is also urging the government to undergo a transition to a digital economy in order to aid industries badly hit by the pandemic.
Mitchell Pham, chair of the Digital Council, said it best: “New Zealand’s resounding entrepreneurial nature is one of our major assets, and with the right leadership by government, digital and data-driven innovation can revitalise the sectors hardest hit, such as tourism, hospitality and the primary industries, as well as create new industries and ways of working.”