TECHNOLOGY: THE “NEW NORMAL” FOR BUSINESSES & INDIVIDUALS IN A COVID-19 ERA

TECHNOLOGY: THE “NEW NORMAL” FOR BUSINESSES & INDIVIDUALS IN A COVID-19 ERA

It is safe to say that telecommunication companies in Ghana are cashing in big time as data has become a staple cash cow.

It all started with grapevine hearings of budding cases in China, all hope was that it will be nipped in the bud before it becomes a global contagion. Fears and apprehension rose as pockets of positive cases seeped out of the hotspot and originator zone, crossed borders on foot and by air from positive carriers who were equally panicky by the sinister invasion of the virus on its hosts.

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What seemed like a passing dusty wind which will soon clear became a permanent blot and stain too difficult to wipe off. The faceless and mysterious nature of the virus with no imminent vaccine and panacea caused enough agitation to wipe people out just by being afraid. There’s the school of thought that, what has killed such proportionate number of people isn’t the virus but the fear of it.

The plummeting of global oil prices, depreciation of stock value, and steep decline of economies with superpower countries not being spared either, further proves the dearth and lack of preparedness for the virus and its accompanying loss of lives.

Interestingly, there’s always been a safe haven with such stories in the past, where an individual can hop on a plane and move to a safe zone. Currently however, every place is a trouble spot with no imminent refuge from this harrowing ordeal. The pandemic hasn’t spared businesses and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Down here in Ghana, life has always been a safe bubble and its inhabitants being totally inoculated from any ‘global virus’ and its damning implication on the economy and its human resources, but that bubble has gradually been losing air and getting deflated by a pandemic no one was ever prepared for. Apprehension grew when the first case was recorded, and as it gathered momentum, borders were closed, and schools were suspended indefinitely, planes grounded and fears escalated.

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As positive cases spiked with comprehensive coverage of events by the media and regular updates on pervading matters and sanction imposition by the president in ensuing days, caution was the buzzword, contact tracing and testing punctuated each sentence and precautionary measures became thematic and constant sing-along by all and sundry. The gravitas of the huge and irreversible loss of jobs, closure of businesses, price gouging, panic buying associated with COVID-19 necessitated the lockdown imposition as counteractive measure, with human lives and activities being belatedly halted and or truncated.

Candidly, ignorance and poverty has been a propagator of the pandemic, rudely revealing and exposing most of the long-term illness of economies and countries. Universal remedy to return countries seemingly closer to normalcy lay at the corridor of technology. In order to salvage what is left from the progressive debris and rubble of COVID-19, which is grimly impacting entire industries, manufacturing companies and startups, and causing them to sporadically move in unpredictable ways, technology seems the apparent savior.

Albeit there have been some stimulus packages set aside by the president to mitigate the closure of businesses, avert insolvency and employee layoffs, these overtures are meaningless without an outlet for productivity to convert activities to actual profits, and that’s where technology proffers solutions, as palliative as it may seem.

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Today’s CEOs are faced with overpowering and contending challenges as they continue to plot a route from the impact of the pandemic. With much prioritization on supporting their employees, clients and staying above water, they are rapidly evolving in ferreting out ways for a possible recovery from this health conundrum which is impacting negatively on economies and businesses. They are presented with the prospects of being more digitally inclined and data-driven for greater mileage in operation and automation of services.

Technological advancement and innovation is gradually shedding the trappings of conventions and laborious culture of business operations. Regardless of the size of an enterprise, technological infrastructure has been proven to affect the civilization, competence and relationships of businesses. It has invariably altered business transactions and changed the business game in the evolution of converting profits at ultra-speed, gaining more clients and traction, and serving global purposes online and beyond borders and human limitations.

Companies and organizations are being prodded in addressing the need to shift to a more remote workforce for sustainability of their current employees and also for the continuity of their businesses. Developing models to suit the pervading pandemic has brought to public light certain applications such as Zoom (whose creator has adopted a billionaire status due to the need for a virtual meeting place in this pandemic season), periscope and other meeting-holding apps where employers and employees working from home despite the lifting of the lockdown sanction can hold meetings, liaise with clients, pitch ideas and sign contract all in a bid to offset the debilitating impact of COVID-19 on their business while also practicing social distancing and staying safe. Most of the applications currently used were hitherto a nonessential commodity in the world of business but has gained preeminence due to the pandemic.

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Fit-for-purpose solutions and scalable plans for short and long-term purposes today as the global health and economic viability are morphing and have become imperative. Therefore, productivity in these uncertain times is achievable through an elastic digital workplace which can ameliorate and ratify foreboding gloom on businesses.

It is safe to say that telecommunication companies in Ghana are cashing in big time as data has become a staple cash cow. The educational system has had to look for alternative measures to bring continuity to class teachings. For this reason, online learning has become the norm and a fad to bring students a sense of normalcy. Although there are inherent challenges with these new models, like every new phenomenon people must adapt to suit it. The resultant effect has been huge data consumption in e-learning and online classes, which were previously ascribed to individuals clamoring for Ivy League and foreign certification and it has become a norm for regular students of all levels. 

Another data consuming lifestyle which most have grown accustomed to are applications like Tik Tok which affords some level of healthy mental conditioning as it humorously brings the creative elements of individuals out and has occupied them during the lockdown season.

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Similarly, cashless systems of payments and automation of services have gained ascendancy all in an effort to limit movement and propagate the “stay home campaign”. It has however, sparkled the profit vaults of telecommunication companies as individuals are erring on the side of caution and prefer to sit home, order for pizza or other essentials and MOMO payment to seal transactions rather than step out and get caught in the cross fire. 

Technology has come to stay with us, and a pandemic of such global proportions has unveiled the deficiency in our system and chartered a new course for us to not just be technologically savvy but be proactively intentional in developing and institutionalizing it in our economies as we have barely scratched the surface of the internet of things to come in our country.