Technology is coming to the rescue in a major way for workers and schoolkids – whose lives have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. With millions of school aged children at home – fortunately various tech applications from Zoom video conferencing to Google Classroom/Google Meet and other online Apps – are playing a pivotal role in keeping schools functioning online.
Technology has transformed the workplace in the last 20 years. Similar global mass closures just a decade ago would have led to far more severe shutdowns in economic productivity.
Many of the companies owned in the HAN-GINS tech themed ETFs are at the forefront of cushioning the economic impact of the Coronavirus, allowing many businesses/enterprises to continue to function. These include a wide variety of technology and healthcare innovations – from cloud computing, social media, future cars and gene therapy to robotics, automation, medical devices and wearables.
These disruptive technologies are already changing the dynamic of how work and services are performed. Increasingly more workers will be able to work remotely. The Coronavirus may indeed nudge this change up a notch – ensuring that many office workers demand more flexibility to work remotely.
As companies upgrade their remote links and improve virtual meetings – it is likely such services will remain in place well after this crisis.
Zoom, in response to the widespread recent school closures, is providing free basic accounts for schools in 16 countries. A wide variety of Education Apps and mobile technology is ensuring millions of pupils are able to remain in direct communication with teachers and access new homework or tasks. My daughter is currently completing some demanding virtual lab testing – as part of a Los Angeles high school science class.
Cloud and online based technology ensures that most workers can easily access their office computers remotely – via such Apps as LogMeIn, Dropbox and many others. The use of cloud technology, means enterprises now require fewer IT staff to be physically present on their premises – as companies increasingly use remote servers and related third-party provided IT functions. Cloud infrastructure has spread globally – via the likes of giants Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google Cloud. This is ensuring that cloud-based software services (SaaS) run by the likes of SAP, Salesforce and Oracle are becoming increasingly accessible globally – including for many smaller enterprises.
The explosion in Social Media ensures friends, families and work colleagues can remain in touch easily. Key discoveries, projects or challenges are now communicated at an instant globally – often free of charge. It also allows for social distancing without the threat of people feeling completely cutoff. Online deliveries of food (Deliveroo, Costco, Uber Eats) – makes life much easier today during such a pandemic.
In the medical space clearly telemedicine, robots, chatbots, AI diagnostic machines and wearables are playing an ever increasing role in assisting healthcare professionals – and reducing the need for human contact. This will help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus – by ensuring fewer patients need to physically visit hospitals during this pandemic. Meanwhile the advancement in Gene Sequencing/Editing – has led to numerous Biotech and Genomics companies playing leading roles in fast tracking the search and testing for a Coronavirus vaccine. Within weeks of the discovery of the virus – the genetic sequence was known. This has already led to human trials beign approved by the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and underway in Seattle, the epicenter of US deaths due to the virus. Moderna Inc a biotech company is amongst those being fast tracked.
Our Healthcare Innovation ETF’s single largest holding – Biotech giant Regeneron (6.5% weighting) – also expects to have a potential drug for COVID-19 ready to start human clinical trials within 2-3 months.
Meanwhile data-mining (AI) firm Palantir Inc., is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to model the virus outbreak. Companies that analyse (scrape) public social-media data are also helping the CDC and the US National Institutes of Health.
Big Tech players are on the front lines helping the public. Amazon just hired another 100,000 warehouse workers, while Google has set up a special Coronavirus website allowing the public to access information and services more easily. Tech groups are able to assist the public sector in tracking which hospitals still have capacity regarding spare beds, ICUs and ventilators. They are also helping small businesses (including restaurants and bars) gravitate online – via various Apps.
In the US tech firms are helping the White House track the virus – via Surveillance Tools, including, geolocation and facial-recognition systems – that can locate vectors of infections.
Anthony Ginsberg, Managing Director
(Co Founder HAN-GINS Healthcare Innovation ETF, listed on London, Frankfurt & Milan Exchanges)