How will the coronavirus pandemic affect the world of tech? That’s the question of the week. And here’s your tech provider’s roundup on the best info from leading market watchers.
What HR pros say
Working from home this week? You’re far from alone. Nearly 9 in 10 organizations have either encouraged or required employees to work from home, finds a survey of HR executives worldwide fielded this past Tuesday.
The survey, conducted by Gartner, also found that nearly all (97%) of organizations have canceled work-related travel. That’s up by more than 80% since March 3 — further evidence (as if you needed it) that the pandemic’s impact has become extremely fast-moving.
Most organizations are also responding to the coronavirus pandemic by trying to cut costs, Gartner found. Seven in 10 say their main cost-cutting measure will be making more effective use of their technology.
That sounds like good news for tech providers. But hold on: One in 5 of those surveyed also say they plan to stop or limit their spending on consultants and other external partners.
Tech hardware sales could take a tumble from the coronavirus too. Market watcher IDC this week downgraded its sales estimates for both augmented and virtual reality headsets and microprocessors.
Specifically, IDC expects worldwide AR/VR headset revenue to drop 10.5% in this year’s first quarter, and then by 24% in the second quarter.
That will be the result of 2 main factors, IDC believes: slumping consumer demand and constrained supplies. “Much of the supply chain for AR/VR headsets is shared with smartphones and PCs,” explains IDC researcher Jitesh Ubrani. “Many of these products are facing supply constraints, as factories operate at much lower capacity.”
Semiconductor sales could get hurt too. IDC estimates there’s an 80% chance worldwide semiconductor revenue will undergo what it calls a “severe contraction” this year. Previously, the market watcher had been expecting a much smaller drop in worldwide semiconductor sales of just 2%.
Chinese cloud suppliers chip in
The coronavirus pandemic got started in China, and now Chinese cloud suppliers are stepping up to help. As a new report from Canalys details, China’s 3 biggest cloud suppliers have been helping government departments, researchers and students by providing access to their cloud-based services:
> Alibaba Cloud made its AI platform available for free to researchers working to accelerate gene sequencing, protein screening and other work related to preventing and treating COVID-19.
> Tencent Cloud launched a cloud office portfolio to support remote working with tools including voice and video chat software.
> Baidu AI Cloud has made its online physician-consultation service available for free. The service has already handled more than 15 million interactions.
Time to rethink?
Perhaps the boldest forecast came this week from ABI Research. It says the coronavirus pandemic will “force companies to radically rethink how they operate and embrace technological investment.”
Facing this pandemic, companies must “make bold decisions to survive,” says ABI chief research officer Stuart Carlaw.
Carlaw expects these bold moves to include more use of lights-out manufacturing, autonomous materials-handling and virtual workspaces. He’s also predicting bigger investments in smart cities to support community resilience, as well as a shift to more integrated and diverse supply chains.