Amid COVID-19, Technologically Adroit Reap Financial Benefits
Change is key for surviving coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has been a blessing for some. This year’s innovations, imposed by the pandemic’s restrictions, have led to a series of changes enabling medical, internet-based, software and other technologies to spring forward around the world.
Take, for instance, the BVP NASDAQ Emerging Cloud Index of 54 cloud-based companies providing cloud software and services. Last week, the index hit an all-time high of just under $2,400, coming from a low of around $990 per share in mid-March 2020.
“As an economic indicator, COVID[-19] has shown that with the advent of the internet and geolocation services, the world has become flat. We can communicate with people next door, in a nearby city, or in a different country and with video conferencing (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) and other cloud-based services (Dropbox, Google Docs/sheets/etc.). The experience is identical,” Chaim Tessler, general partner in charge of investments at OurCrowd equity crowdfunding platform, told The Media Line.
Agility, alongside creativity, is key to dealing with the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
For instance, physicians seeking to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 while making hospital rounds, have begun working with robots.
“We now have robotic platforms that we use instead of examining patients face-to-face, or mask-to-mask,” said Prof. Eliezer Schwartz of the Sheba Medical Center just outside Tel Aviv who is a coronavirus consultant to Israel’s Defense Ministry.
“Via remote control, the robot goes from room to room, saving the doctors and medical staff from exposure. The robot can take their vital signs and alert us. This is great in this corona pandemic,” he told The Media Line.
The COVID-19 is an impetus for bringing together biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, Schwartz said. “This will be the first time a vaccine based on mRNA technologies will be a reality.” Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines use this technology.
C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) is a technical military term that has become relevant for coronavirus first responders.
Ido Rosenblat, the chief information officer of Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA), the local emergency medical service affiliated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the organization was prepared for major traumas and medical situations, “but for a pandemic, it took us a bit more time.”
MDA’s 50-person research-and-development technology unit developed the software and set up a separate emergency call center for COVID-19 “in a matter of days,” he told The Media Line.
“We had to fashion a system, actually two systems, for our efforts to deal with the pandemic. We separated our emergency medical efforts from our COVID-response teams. This meant creating an Interactive Voice Response operation able to separate the needs and send calls and requests to two different sets of professionals.”
“We worked 24/7 for a number of days to make this happen. And we keep adding to it as situations arise,” Rosenblat said. “All of our technology solutions are created in-house.”
MDA created an interactive dashboard connecting the Health Ministry, nursing homes, laboratories, testing facilities and its own operations centers to pinpoint needs, emerging situations and to ensure that information flowed between the various agencies and workers.
“Our IT [information technology] systems upon which the dashboard is based, work around the clock. Our team is always looking ahead to be ahead of the curve,” he added
Serial entrepreneur Jeff Pulver told The Media Line that the pandemic has changed the world forever and “forced every company to have an online strategy.”
The pandemic has pushed almost every buying experience online. It is “finally time to drop the e of e-commerce; everything is just commerce,” Pulver said.
Tessler is of the same mind. Those who really benefited from the pandemic are “companies enabling physical objects to move around without the need for outdoor excursions … Doordash and Amazon.”
Food delivery has become more common, with streets increasingly filled with delivery people on scooters, bicycles, motorcycles and in vans.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen a single order for six people in the office become six separate orders for the same people, now working from home,” said Chaya Huisman, marketing chief of Israel’s 10bis, part of the JustEat Takeaway family of companies.
JustEat Takeaway, which purchased North America’s GrubHub for $7.3 billion in June 2020, has grown into the largest food-delivery service outside China.
Ordering food from an application or via the internet is the new normal, Huisman told The Media Line.
“A July 2020 survey in Israel by the global market-research firm, Ipsos, showed that 23.6% of respondents had ordered food via an app for the first time during the pandemic.”
“We are constantly changing our application’s UI [user interface] and UX [user experience] just as restaurants are being creative and changing their in-store experience to one based on take-away,” she said. “As a result of the pandemic restrictions, a lot of restaurants are offering all kinds of extra things on the menu, such as cocktails and picnic baskets.”
“For some reason, and I don’t know why, the most interesting trend we have seen is that ice-cream orders are up very significantly during the pandemic,” Huisman added.
More people who might have been employed in the past have switched to freelance work.
Fiverr, a company bringing together freelancers and businesses, had a 48% increase in the third quarter of 2020 in new US freelance registrations compared to the same period the previous year.
“Many people who have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs began looking for new ways to make money, and it’s become evident that many have turned to platforms such as Fiverr to help,” Gil Lev, head of Fiverr’s Global HR, told The Media Line.
“When the pandemic first hit and during the first wave of lockdowns, we saw an uptick (both buying and selling) in personal project-oriented services such as music and crafting lessons, fitness plans, video-game coaching and the like,” he said.
“However, after about a month, we began to see a jump in demand for business-related services, particularly ones linked to bringing traditionally offline businesses online, or those that help promote businesses online, like social media marketing,” Lev said.
During the pandemic, Pulver opened pulveREDU, an internet-based, interactive micro-education venture providing hour-long learning opportunities.
“This is our alpha launch, and we believe, a new way forward for internet education,” he said. ”There is no going back to what once was; only looking ahead and embracing the future.”