By Stefano Giuliani
Covid 19 has generated a profound “crisis” throughout the world, even in the most etymological sense of “rupture”, deeply involving politics, economics and sociality. A “rupture” with the past that is creating a new global scenario and, in some ways, a marked change in globalization itself, which is exposing its failure. From the socio-political point of view, the considerations are truly manifold and deserve a separate study. Here I limit myself to some reflections on the present and future impact on the work world and everyday life, which are obviously not disconnected from the social and political situation.
A look at the present
In today’s scenario, where perhaps people thought more about protecting themselves from computer viruses, physical social distancing was necessary to contain this pandemic. This situation has led, among other things, to the deprivation of personal freedom and to the almost total paralysis of many productive activities, with consequent economic and financial disasters that have already resulted and above all will derive from it. The lockdown, like an inexorable watershed, has also created a profound diversity in businesses and commercial activities. Many activities have found themselves with decimated turnover, almost without the possibility of recovery and, in some cases, at risk of survival. We think of hotels, transport, shops, restaurants, bars, the auto sector, etc … everything that involved mobility or close physical contact.
A planet paralyzed and closed inside the house, for months, without knowing how to move, in fear, subjected to the restrictions resulting from a new possible epidemic peak and with the specter of a new lockdown. Other activities instead, for the same identical reason, have found themselves with increased turnover and profits, such as companies in the IT, food or pharmaceutical sector.
This diversity has also been created in the world of online service platforms. Think of online sales platforms such as Amazon, Alibaba, Deliveroo, IT and logistics infrastructures organized for home delivery, or streaming platforms of audiovisual content such as Netflix and Spotify, which have seen a growth in their business. Facebook has announced the launch of Shops, a platform that will allow millions of businesses to offer goods and services online free of charge, starting from the American market, bouncing their shares by 50%, only after having reached its historical lows in March, due to the negative effects of major advertising losses. Same losses in the advertising sector for Twitter at the beginning of the year, and in the sector of mobility or tourism services for Uber, Lyft, Booking and Airbnb, which found itself having to lay off 600 employees. And the effects in the medium to long term are still unclear.
A proper reflection must be made for those who in this period have seen only an exponential growth in their profits: the video communication sector, whose diffusion and greater use allow moreover to only imagine positive effects in the medium-long term.
Many companies have activated work in smart working mode, a way that in several cases could remain definitive over time, and integrated video conferencing systems for business collaboration increasingly necessary.
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Zoom and the Video Explosion
In this sector there is a reality that stands out above all, not known to most, at least until recently. It’s about Zoom, a company that provides video conferencing services through a platform that allows free connections for up to 100 simultaneous participants. During the lockdown period, many workers, students, managers began to use it to take lessons, webinars, speak with colleagues or with the company. The platform went from “just” 10 million users connected per day in December, to the stratospheric figure of 300 million users connected per day in April.
Born in 2011, headquartered in San Jose, California, listed in 2019 for 16 billion dollars, with Coronavirus it literally took off in a few months, overshadowing competitors such as Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Apple Facetime and Google Meet. It has become the most popular meeting place in the world for those whom Coronavirus prevented from meeting in person.
And so in a few months Zoom achieved an incredible performance, becoming a company worth $48 billion on Wall Street today, whose shares went from $36 a year last year to $171 today, surpassing in worth a giant like General Motors.
At the same time, many airlines are likely to go bankrupt without the help of governments. Completely different sectors that the same crisis has put in completely different situations.
Facebook, realizing that the use of its video calling services via Messenger and WhatsApp, more than doubled, of the direct live on Facebook and Instagram, has decided to launch Messenger Rooms, a new group video calling service, in an attempt to counter Zoom.
And even if after the Coronavirus the number of connections will certainly decrease, the app has now been downloaded and used by millions of users, who didn’t even know it, and who will continue to use it more than it had been used before. It is however certain that this pandemic, in an already digital world, forcing billions of people at home for months, has made the use of videoconferencing systems even more necessary.
A “New World”
A “new world” of work, education, music, entertainment, remote activities in general, which, on several occasions, could remain so forever. We think of the activities that previously only insiders had been carrying out for some time without moving, saving time and money, and which have now become common use for all. Thanks to the use of these video communication systems, simple to use, available anywhere and by anyone via the Internet, thanks to increasingly effective new technologies, a network and increasingly performing devices, many activities, in many areas of application, could remain definitely “virtual”.
It must be said that the world of digital communication, especially of the management and interactive distribution of audio and video content, both in the consumer and in the business world, had already been for some time now the attention of the most visionary and innovative companies in the IT panorama of the new century.