It will come as little surprise to anyone today, but Covid-19 has changed things. Nevertheless, a recent media analysis of Covid-19 tech solutions by the Boston Consulting Group for the World Economic Forum revealed just how much the pandemic has impacted the technology sector.
One of the report’s major findings was that the wider media and public are interested in how technology can be leveraged to fight Covid-19 – but is less interested in how that tech is deployed.
Little-to-No Mention of Cloud in Media
Following analysis of over 150 million English language media articles from 30 countries published between December 2019 and May 2020, The Boston Consulting Group found that Data Analytics experienced a dramatic rise in coverage. It took 9.2% of all articles, with 5G (7.5%) and Telemedicine (7.3%) following closely in second and third places.
In fourth place was Delivery Drones with 7.2% of coverage. Surprisingly, AI & Machine Learning dropped from 10% of coverage pre-Covid-19 to 7% during Covid-19. Distance Learning (5.4%), BioTech (5.3%) and Personal Protective Equipment (4.9%) were all newcomers to the ten most discussed tech topics list.
But for all its insights, the report has one glaring omission: the role of cloud. As the report focused on media articles, it only reflects the shift in tech interests, not in the actual developments occurring within the sector. Less than 5% of all articles featured a focus on cloud, with many choosing to highlight the end-product as opposed to the infrastructure that makes it possible.
In June, CEO.digital reported that in “Q1 2020, spending on cloud infrastructure services reached $29 billion – a 37% increase year-on-year.” While this fell in line with expected market growth, the figure was telling because of the sector’s ability to maintain growth as other areas of the global economy flatlined. And further evidence of cloud growth came from Gartner, where growth predictions of 6.3% for 2020 takes total revenue to $258 billion a year.
Growth predictions of 6.3% for 2020 will take total cloud revenue to $258 billion a year.
Top Covid-19 Tech Solutions in 2020
The Boston Consulting Group went on to list a variety of tech solutions aimed at combatting Covid-19 as mentioned in the media. These spanned several topic areas, including:
- Information Management
- Detection and Containment
- Healthcare Provider Enablement
- Treatment Acceleration
- Economic Resilience
- Social Cohesion
Examples of technological innovation in the face of the coronavirus pandemic came from all around the world. Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba is creating an Intelligent Robot that’s tailored to pandemic-related requests, while many other countries developed Covid-19 information, tracing or warning apps, including Germany, Pakistan, Iceland, India, Singapore and Australia.
Elsewhere, tech companies have attempted to empower healthcare providers with AI-assisted X-ray imaging analysis, a $5 million bung from Amazon to healthcare providers to buy connectivity devices, and myriad examples of telehealth services to help maintain social distancing while still providing care.
But it’s in data analytics that the real solutions arise. Here, organisations have been adopting tech to help find a reliable treatment for Covid-19 and to monitor infection rates throughout the world. AI-assisted drug screening, like that powered by Exscientia and Healx, is helping to identify possible vaccine candidates. In other areas, real-time data on clinical trials is aiding health officials to ratify the safety and viability of vaccines.
Not only is cloud technology helping to combat Covid-19, it is maintaining some semblance of economic resilience by enabling remote working.
Cloud Technology Is Underpinning the Covid-19 Fightback
What most of these technology solutions have in common is, of course, cloud technology. Either by hosting services or by providing the additional computing power required to process vast amounts of data quickly, the cloud is helping to identify real solutions to Covid-19.
Not only that, but cloud technology is helping to maintain some semblance of economic resilience in the world today. Namely, it is empowering organisations by enabling them to shift to a remote working operation. Many organisations that were hesitant to transfer core functions to the cloud were forced to do so at the start of the global lockdown, with cultural hurdles cast aside in favour of enterprise agility.
However, the dramatic embrace of cloud technology has created new problems. IT teams that lack cloud knowledge and expertise are introducing cloud-based solutions to maintain business operations, but are unwittingly opening backdoors to threats. For instance, Netskope found that there has been a 63% increase in cloud-based malware delivery this year.
To power recovery – both against the virus itself and against its economic impact – we must promote a wider understanding of the infrastructure that enables these technologies. We must also work to ensure IT teams and organisations that have turned to cloud since Covid-19 are building secure ecosystems. Otherwise, we won’t realise technology’s full potential to aid the fight against the coronavirus.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be addressing cloud security today, discussing how IT teams can maintain security as they transition major functions to the cloud in response to coronavirus. In particular, we’ll show you how to keep the system secure with a remote workforce. Watch this space!