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COVID-19 Catalyst for Change

Updated: May 18, 2020

This century seems like a cold, dispassionate march of advancing silicon chips. The solution to every problem seems to lie in the realm of technology. With a pandemic currently ravaging the world, we are in the midst of a transformation, one so unpredictable that no one can fathom whether its long-term outcomes will be beneficial or detrimental.

Covid-19 has come as a catalyst to further digitisation in areas earlier unimaginable. India, with a population once dependent on neighbourhood ‘kirana’ stores, now orders groceries online. Students, used to submitting notebooks on the teachers’ desks, are submitting homework online. Office and administrative work has all shifted online and there is a sudden spike in demand of household cleaning bots. Companies like Ola and Uber, with enormous projected market potential, are now struggling as social distancing norms obliterate their cab-sharing services. The film industry, having to quickly shift content online, suffers losses in ticket sales, and may eventually even have to reduce film production budgets. Countries dependent on tourism have their economies upended. Travel and any sort of social congregation seems like a distant dream, destroying the airline and hospitality businesses.

Lifestyles are changing at a speed which was inconceivable even until late last year. But that’s what makes the post-Covid era exciting, albeit uncertain. However, Covid-19 is a catalyst, for all those entrepreneurs whose vision for digitisation had earlier been rejected. Today, an idea for a digital school will definitely receive funding as investors realise its profitability. Schools, as we know, may now be extinct, reduced to mere activity centres, where students gather only for specific occasions. Platforms such as Unacademy, with their entire course material being taught online, are now seeing a surge in the number of users.

Online courses are cheaper and students may even feel empowered to pursue subjects of their interest, decentralising education and reducing the need for traditional schools. With employers now focusing on skill sets instead of degrees for recruitment and selection purposes, traditional education may soon be entirely revamped. Although criticised for being undisciplined, online education enables students to learn only what they want to, in the style that suits them. The rigours of traditional examinations may be a thing of the past. Unsystematic, yet original. Learning, in its pristine and true sense. Good or bad; it is for the future to tell.

In a collapsing traditional economy, with unemployment rates projected to reach almost 33%, it is up to digital solutions and tech-savvy entrepreneurs to become key drivers of product development, weeding out all the inefficiencies of the current industry set-up. Entrepreneurs must now aim to provide products or services that, like a well-crafted story, elicit a visceral response in the target audience, permeating a human experience that is both unforgettable and addicting.

The sudden shift in lifestyles gives entrepreneurs the power to step back from being mesmerised with those gleaming computer screens and getting to the grassroots of a problem. The human aspect of the problem. Transforming lives involves the ability to visualise technology as a tool to bring forth the answer, and refraining from making technology THE answer.

It is of primordial importance that entrepreneurs of today and the future be ready for interdisciplinary work, especially when technology-based solutions are to be implemented in the fields of medicine and education. The future is interdisciplinary.

Author : Maanini Singhvi

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