Posted 27 Apr 2020

How the technology sector has been impacted by COVID-19 and its future.

Andrew Robinson blog profile image

By Andrew Robinson

It’s predicted that during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic the pace of digital transformation would have progressed by 10 years. So, what does that mean for the tech industry and how badly has it been affected by the global crisis?

What we can determine so far is that this unique set of circumstances has dramatically driven the use of new and innovative technology. Without it the ability to do any kind of business wouldn’t be sustainable. Companies globally have been forced to adapt to different ways of working and transition their employees, where possible, to remote working therefore rapidly advancing the requirements for hardware, software, cybersecurity, and other cloud-based services.   

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have clearly benefited as market leaders. Video conferencing providers, such as Microsoft Teams have experienced an increase in active daily users by 12 million, and Zoom’s share price has rocketed by 130% since the start of the year, with its brand name now a commonly used verb. These tech platforms have not only ensured that business meetings can still proceed as planned but also that families and friends are able to stay in touch.  

What has also now become apparent is the critical importance of health tech. Funding for scale-ups has always been consistently strong in this area, however, the global health crisis has pushed investment forward in just a few weeks by what in normal circumstances would have taken years.

However, it’s certainly not all been business as usual for many parts of the sector. Even telehealth, unicorn, Babylon, has had to furlough 5% of its workforce in response to the crisis despite the launch of Covid-19 Care Assistant in the UK, which is also set to be rolled out to wider worldwide users.  

For fintech, and e-commerce the use of digital currency has become king, with many stores refusing to take cash and contactless payment limits increasing from £35 to £45. Even though the overall number of transactions has decreased, longer-term it’s accelerated the use of instore cards and online payments. A move that’s set to benefit many businesses in the sector, especially those transacting Amazon purchases, who have been reportedly making £9k a second while lockdown measures have been in place.  

It’s worth noting that last year the UK was third after the US and China for inward tech investment and second globally for fintech investment, with £4.1billion raised. Although this year it’s seen a drop in investment by £1billion compared to March 2019. In a recent survey completed by Tech Nation, 57% of their fintech survey respondents advised that they were intending to access the government's CBILS or job retention scheme to help support their businesses through the epidemic.

Streaming and gaming platforms have seen unprecedented upturns in subscriptions, with all forms of entertainment now only available indoors, YouTube, Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation, Netflix, Apple, and the new Disney+ are where many are going to stay sane. Netflix doubled the number of subscribers is expected to sign up for its service over the last three months to reach 16 million. However, this increased interest in streaming services has bought with it the creation of more than 700 fake websites pretending to be sign up pages for Netflix and the new Disney+.

With Covid-19 related phishing emails and spam, vulnerable remote working practices, more time spent online, hackers going all out to trick internet users into providing them with data. The threat in this virtual working and social landscape is great and will significantly influence the need for tighter and more cybersecurity than we’ve ever seen before.  

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this crisis it will have certainly had a major impact on the technology industry for the foreseeable future. With many tech companies rising to the challenge to assist with global efforts to help save lives, protect people’s personal data, and keep everyone online and connected, tech is likely to come out of this in better shape than many other industries and on course for an interesting future.