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COVID-19: Impact and Opportunities in IT Sector

By: Dr. Parminder Kaur
Head Training & Placement (placements@jnec.ac.in)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been declared the global health crisis of this era. The situation is still grim as the virus is spreading with rise in number of cases. According to WHO, countries across the globe are implementing different control measures to slow down the spread. Government of India (GoI) is also taking all necessary steps to ensure that we effectively face the challenge and threat posed by the growing pandemic of COVID-19. India implemented a proactive nationwide lockdown, with the goal of flattening the curve and using the time to plan and resource responses adequately.

India has launched two apps in this regard: Aarogya Setu, a mobile application developed by the GoI to connect essential health services with the people of India and ‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ mobile application to educate people in usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures. As you must have noticed, I just explained the importance and usage of Information Technology at this tough time of COVID pandemic. Without these important IT based initiatives our fight with corona would have been even more difficult. The Top Technology Trends in IT Sector are in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), 3D Printing and Cybersecurity. Cybersecurity might not seem like emerging technology, given that it has been around for a while, but it is evolving just as other technologies are. That’s in part because threats are constantly new. The Top technology trends are also called as Disruptive technology trends as these are the new way of doing things that disrupt or overturn traditional methods. It creates a new market and eventually disrupts an existing market. Some of the disruptive products are Uber, NETFLIX and Tesla Motors. Technology is now evolving at a very rapid pace enabling faster changes and progress.


Image Courtesy: PwC

If we look at technology-based careers in IT sector, they do not change at the same speed, but they do evolve resulting in change in roles of IT professionals. So, an IT professional of the 21st century will constantly be learning out of necessity, if not desire. Now, what does this mean for us? It means staying up-to-date with technology trends. And it also means keeping our eyes on the future, to know which skills we will need to know and what types of jobs we want to be qualified to do. In the near future, the eight emerging technologies, as mentioned by Pwc are the areas that would be creating the majority of the jobs in the IT sector. Even as most of the other industrial sectors are going through a rough phase, the IT industry is expected to benefit the most from the current situation as majority of the firms are deploying digital technology at a rapid pace. The information technology industry has positive prospects in the long term, however performance in the next one year is expected to be dampened by the widespread effects of Covid-19, as per reports coming in from different sources. In addition, the severe effect of this pandemic in the markets of advanced nations such as the US, and those in the European Union, the spillovers can be felt by the Indian IT industry as well. Biggest hit is the hotel & tourism industry. As we move towards getting a cure for the virus, the jobs are going to remain sluggish in this sector. Other industries directly impacted by the virus would remain slow as well. There may be no or less impact on IT services in banking & finance and healthcare services, moderate impact on IT services related to manufacturing, retail, telecom and hi-tech and large impact on IT services related to travel, hospitality and aviation.


Healthcare Opportunities in IT Sector

As people adopt better personal hygiene practices in the post-COVID-19 world, the consumption of nutrition and wellness products is expected to see a rise. Fitness products like fitness tracking gadgets and apps are also seeing a rise in demand. Furthermore, as people turn towards the online medium, online medicine delivery and teleconsulting – which is already seeing astronomical growth owing to the lockdown – will rise even further in the future. As per 2020 Global Health Care Outlook report published by Deloitte, “DIGITAL is the new “NOW” and is shaping the health care systems of the Future”. Despite numerous challenges, there has been considerable progress in digital transformation of health care, which we expect will continue in 2020 and beyond. There is acceptance of new monitoring techniques. The significant humanitarian impact due to COVID-19 is likely to make digital monitoring techniques for temperature recording more accepted to prevent and control pandemics. The challenges coordinating across multiple layers of government (local, state, national and global health) will cause governments to rethink how crises are managed to enable faster, more consistent decision making. As virtual healthcare increases in capability and popularity, organizations will likely need to continue investing in security tools and services to identify risks and keep them at bay. Back home in India, an initiative of the Government of Uttarakhand, the telemedicine services were rolled out at two of the most challenging rural locations near the Himalayas; Betalghat and Kapkot. KareXpert Technologies signed a 5-year MoU with Nainital district administration in November 2019 to connect the 45,000 strong rural population of Betalghat and Kapkot with the primary health centers and multispecialty hospitals. Using this e-health telemedicine facility, the diagnosis of patients is being done directly by the specialist physicians of multispecialty hospital and medicines are prescribed.


Image Courtesy: Deloitte Global Health Care Outlook Report 2020

Smart Farming opportunities in IT Sector

The farming industry is becoming more important than ever before. Technological innovation in farming is nothing new as the intelligent farms are making use of technology. A large amount of data related to farms are generated, stored and analyzed using data analytic tools for decision making and predictions. This analysis can be used for estimating crop yields, monitoring agricultural land and soil-mapping etc. Sensors are also used for scanning of soil, water, humidity and temperature management. Telecommunications technologies such as advanced networking and GPS are used in smart tractors. This enables farmers to keep track of their tractors and other farm equipment to automatically plough their fields. Agrobots are also being used for weeding, fertilizing and to speed up harvesting as they can pick a fruit every 2 to 3 seconds. These robots are cheap to build making them significantly cheaper than human labor. Survey drones are also employed for surveying farms. These drones are equipped with multi-spectral and photo cameras that can monitor crop stress, plant growth and predict yields. I have made use of Machine learning and Deep learning technologies to carry out my PhD research work in Smart Farming. In simple terms, satellite image of say 5 km X 5 Km agricultural land area is analyzed and output shows sugarcane crops present in different parts of the area in harvest stage and growing stage. This is useful for decision making for government agencies. It also gives an estimate in terms of acres of farms where sugarcane crop is at harvest stage.

E-Commerce opportunities in IT Sector

While most Indian households still rely on their neighborhood stores for grocery, many of us are switching to online retail platforms like Grofers, Milkbasket and BigBasket etc. What is the reason? This is to ensure compliance with social distancing!

And players in E-Commerce space are moving in and taking strategic advantage of this trend to establish themselves as an integral part of the grocery fulfilment value chain. In a way, the lockdown is gradually changing the mindsets of consumers and encouraging them to switch to online shopping. This indicates that online grocery will be a sunrise sector in the long term, even after the COVID-19 chapter comes to a close. AI powered software is helping retailers to integrate improved product sizing and outfit building tools into their web sites. Chat-Bots are helping shoppers to make purchases in conversational text format. Mira, Flipkart’s artificial intelligence-run virtual shopping assistant, learns from each customer interaction to improve the brand experience for shoppers.

The ultimate goal of E-commerce businesses is to reach out to prospective customers from smaller towns who may be less proficient in English. Looking at Indian scenario, this is important as ninety percent of new internet users from India speak only an Indian language.


Industry 4.0 opportunities in IT Sector

A large number of applications of Internet of Things (IoT) exists in various domains like traffic management, smart homes, smart buildings, intelligent transportation systems, fitness bands and smart appliances. Amalgamation of Industry 4.0 with IoT is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It mainly refers to an industrial framework where a number of instruments or machines are connected and synchronized using software tools and different platform technologies. IIoT makes use of smart sensors and actuators to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes. IIoT follows the underlying principle that smart machines work better than humans to capture and analyze data in real time and communicates accurate information for faster business decisions. Connected components of industrial framework enables faster detection of inefficiencies and problems saving time and money. In manufacturing industry, IIoT finds large applications in quality control, sustainable and green practices, supply chain management.

In a nutshell, products for essential sectors like healthcare, agriculture, education will come up strongly attracting more investment in near future. Products related to AI / ML / DL technologies dealing with data science will be in focus and products and services on cloud computing will increase. There is bound to be increased focus on IoT (Internet of Things) and Industrial IoT. Another sunrise sector is E-commerce industry moving into its next growth phase.


FUTURE IS BRIGHT- when you stay focused, optimistic and confident.


(Author is Head, Training & Placement Cell of Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College which is constituent part of MGM University, Aurangabad)