Wednesday, 11 March 2020 03:09

Coronavirus spurs business to undergo digital transformation, say researchers Featured


The spread of the coronavirus — COVID-19 — is prompting businesses to undergo digital transformations, adopting new technologies to allow employees to remain productive and effective during the epidemic, according to global technology research firm OMDIA.

OMDIA said on Tuesday that event cancellations and business travel suspensions had compelled companies in the Asia Pacific region to adopt digital-based marketing processes and “may prompt these businesses to embrace 5G-based services designed to promote remote work”.

“For many businesses in the wireless market, the Mobile World Congress represents the biggest in-person marketing opportunity of the year,” said Ramona Zhao, senior analyst at OMDIA.

“However, with the event cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, businesses were forced to compensate by embracing digital marketing – using Internet-based approaches. The outbreak may cause companies to accelerate their digital transformations, adopting innovations like remote diagnosis, remote education and 5G-connected robots in China.”

According to Zhao, this trend is likely to expand outside of China, as the coronavirus spreads to other nations.

“The coronavirus is compelling workplaces throughout China to take the digital plunge,” Zhao said.

“As this phenomenon spreads around the world, the urgent demand for solutions will represent a major opportunity — and a major test — for suppliers of digital workplace solutions.”

According to OMDIA, given the severe curtailing of travel and personal meetings on a global scale, the outbreak could serve as a catalyst for establishing and entrenching video calling and conferencing in consumers and employees daily lives.

OMDIA says that voice and video calling and conferencing and other types of online video-based services for consumers and enterprises — such as live-streaming webinars — are being used in place of person-to-person meetings.

“Live-streaming is already being used in China to enable house-bound students and teachers to continue lessons,” said Pamela Clark-Dickson, practice leader at OMDIA.

“Online consumers are increasingly comfortable with app-based video calling on mobiles and other devices.”

OMDIA cites its Consumer Insights Survey 2019 which found that more consumers use mobile-app-based video calling than app-based voice calling – indicating a high level of comfort that is also filtering through to the enterprise, via services like Microsoft Teams, as well as HTML- based services that use WebRTC.

And OMDIA says that app-based and online video calling and conferencing are now fairly reliable, easy-to-use and accessible services, and with millions of people working at home now, communication and collaboration
technologies and online workplace services play an integral role in connecting workforces and maintaining productivity.

“An emerging set of digital workspace services — including WeChat Work, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx or Alibaba’s DingTalk — are now ushering in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment; a large number of people now are working from home – organising client meetings and group discussions regardless of the threat of pandemic,” said Hwee- Xian Tan, senior analyst at OMDIA.

According to OMDIA’s Unified Communication Services Forecast, multitenant hosted unified communications and UC as a service in China will grow to a staggering US$125 million in 2020, rising at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 13% – “with the current spike of demand, the growth of UC services will ramp up and potentially two-fold from our earlier estimation”.

“The epidemic has certainly caused difficulties, but these challenges present new development opportunities, allowing companies to transform their workforces to participate in the digital economy,” OMDIA concluded.

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