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Tech Insights

Booming Opportunities in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Stephen Su
Vice President and General Director of ITRI’s Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center

Demand for online conferencing and remote learning technologies will see significant increases during the pandemic.

Demand for online conferencing and remote learning technologies will see significant increases during the pandemic.

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has dealt an enormous blow to the global economy and industry, but at the same time, is boosting some business opportunities. In response to the policies to halt virus spread such as quarantines, work-from-home and social distancing, industries associated with e-commerce, working remotely, smart marketing, digital finance, and digital learning will undoubtedly grow. The timeline to see more online learning, tele-healthcare, and a digital economy become more ubiquitous, which wasn’t expected until more towards 2030, will now be accelerated.

While people need to keep business/learning as usual during the pandemic, online conferencing and remote learning technology firms, including platform providers, device manufacturers, and learning material developers will be the first to reap benefits. Companies such as Zoom, Microsoft and Cisco will experience a significant growth in business with the increase in educational and corporate clients.

Since the end of January, Microsoft’s Teams has seen an over 5 times increase in its meetings, calls, and conference usage within ITRI. As ITRI’s internal statistics suggest, the daily usage of video software in February 2020 almost doubled compared with the previous half year. According to the IDC’s 2019 survey, about 23.6% of Taiwan enterprises purchased video conferencing software. With the development of 5G technology and the impact of COVID-19, we could see the portion potentially expand to more than 50% by 2030.

The Coronavirus may also drive major growth in online education. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) models will become more widely adopted, and the online coursework provided by educational institutions such as the Khan Academy will get more popular.

As the pandemic continues to surge across the world, the development of the digital economy will hasten. In an earlier IEK Consulting forecast, we predicted that the digital economy in 2020 would account for 25.2% of Taiwan’s GDP, with that number rising to 39.1% by 2030. Now, we anticipate that number to rise to 60%. The mobile payment penetration rate, which stands at 50% at present, could grow to 95% by 2030, higher than the original estimate of 90%.

The outbreak of COVID-19 could also help popularize tele-healthcare. In light of the large-scale isolation measures, the healthcare system may have no choice but to provide a large amount of assistance via teleservices. Consequently, AI and big data platforms will also come more into focus.

Given the fact that Taiwan will become an ultra-aging society by 2026, the demand for chronic care and health services will see significant increases. Combining solutions such as smart-care systems and personalized precision medicine will bring unlimited business opportunities for the emerging diagnosis and treatment markets. We believe the tele-healthcare services put into place to minimize the spread of the pandemic can urge Taiwan to be better prepared for the future needs of its aging population.

In summary, while the pandemic will undoubtedly have a major negative impact on the global economy and industry, there will be a booming opportunity for the “Zero-Touch and Zero-Distance Economy,” meaning online connections will allow users to be physically separated but virtually connected through innovative digital technologies, thus spurring new business models and services. Taiwan industries and startups should grasp these opportunities with proper government policy and incentives, even during the challenging period of health protection and business downturn.

About the Author

Stephen Su

Stephen Su is currently the Vice President and General Director of Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center at ITRI. He is in charge of market research in industry economic and technology trends over a wide range of high-tech and traditional industries. Prior to that, he was the General Director of Industrial Economic and Knowledge Center (IEK) at ITRI, a Principal in Roland Berger Strategy Consultants based in Shanghai, a Senior Director in charge of mobile phone accessory business division for Primax Electronics in Taipei, a Project Leader in Boston Consulting Group (BCG) based in Hong Kong, and an Applications Engineer in the Semiconductor Group of Motorola based in Phoenix. His professional specialties include Strategy, Performance Improvement, Organization Change Management, Reengineering, and Marketing.