BY RASHI LOHAAN
Let’s face it, one of the biggest boons to come from COVID-19 has been that we as humans can finally be lazy in our own homes all day long and there will be no questions asked. While on one hand, humanity is constantly looking for comfort, on the other hand, there is a whole sector with the massive increase in the field of e-commerce and digital marketing.
While the entire world is in a slump because of restricted lockdowns, social distancing and other restraints, economies of many countries and companies are facing recession-like situations with substantial financial setbacks, prompting them to rebrand and re-establish themselves with a different perspective as compared to what has gotten them so far, and has also provided them with so much success already. For such businesses COVID-19 has been the biggest problem they have ever had to or will ever face.
While on the other side of this we can observe a registered growth of over 500% in all digital-based companies, with millions of start-ups across the globe getting the recognition that they have been worthy of but were ignored because of offline competitions given by conventional and established economy. These small companies with their fresh perspectives and remarkable adaptability for any given situation have gained themselves an upper hand in the situation of today’s lockdown periods; they have developed various tools to grow in such odd times as well. Developing customized user experience while enabling customers at home and at simply the click of a few buttons they can get anything and everything delivered at their doorstep, reducing the risk of unwanted contact while not compromising their lifestyles. Experts are expecting elevated consumer demands in the near future. This means that companies that have been conducting business as per their conditions will be left far behind as compared to businesses who are changing every day and increasing their reach.
There are many sections of the society, especially in the context of India, who have benefitted in various ways due to digitization of the market space. Not only companies of e-learning, e-pharmacy and e-grocery shopping, but also small businesses like farming and trading. These modest trades that weren’t legally allowed to have their brand and were always in debt of middlemen, who needless to say always took their cut out of their produce, can now directly sell to their customers via online markets with the help of Agricultural Produce Market Committee and get the true value of their products.
While the market space continues to grow, the government has shown its unconditional support to the digital market space by providing them with unrestricted movements across the nation. Policies like demonetisation and the JAM trinity were once announced with a completely different perspective in mind have now proved themselves to be very useful and handy for customers ranging across diverse social and economic backgrounds.
But an undeniable aspect of this global pandemic has been the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs of skilled employees. With over 6 lakh companies being forced to close shops in India, over 12 crore people have lost their jobs, and hence their source of income in this lockdown period, many more are expected to soon. Such a tremendous loss of livelihood has led to an increase in the number of cases of not only financially struggling households but also loss of mental health amongst people. The announcement of the digital health ID for every Indian under the National Digital Health Mission on 15th August aims to create a digital ecosystem for healthcare can be seen as a step forward in digitising healthcare for the economy helping it reach the inaccessible corners of the country today and also in the future.
While digitization promises to create 150 million jobs by 2025, the digital divide in the world possesses a new threat in the world. Technological giants like China and US have provided their citizens with sufficient technical skills to avail these employment opportunities while in developing countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, only 32% of the population have the basic digital skills. Every crisis displaces jobs while new jobs require higher cognitive skills, COVID-19 accelerates this trend by putting the less developed economies at a higher rate of unemployment and increased difficulties to remain competitive.
While the pandemic poses new challenges to people individually and also to nations as a whole, the need of the hour has become for the entire world to come together and grow their digital capabilities at an equal platform with a shared employment criterion which is fair to all. Local government should act now to educate their citizens and adapt their people for the global economy of tomorrow.