The world that Covid is building..
A mime about a year ago in May 2020, (when we were all lamenting the outset of a lost generation), joked about which individual/entity in a corporation was actually driving digital strategy — the CEO, CTO or Covid!!
At the outset of a month-long lockdown due to covid, a Video’s started circulating on whatsapp showing pictures taken from the skies of a few cities. We saw empty streets with undisturbed flora alongside and with the occasional fauna in some cases prancing on roads. The skies were clear, pollution dropped for a few months — we held out hope for a brief passing moment about the fact that — just maybe this was the silver lining.
Soon after though, we went back to our daily routines of clogging up the streets with our garbage and puffing the skies with our fumes. Had the moment of change passed us by? Quite a few things had changed though, thanks to the world that covid continues to build today: -
When I heard the word “Digitization” for the first time I asked myself what had I had been doing all these years? Wasn’t automation a part of what we consider to be Information Technology (I.T.)? Wasn’t it already speeding up things and eliminating wasteful expenses and cutting down response times?
Well, apparently NOT fast enough. These days digitization is driven by apps, people want apps for everything — right from gaming, grocery ordering, dating, investing to even helping them recognize faces in the crowd. This consumer driven rush for apps is pushing automation further down this path of no return. This has spawned a new line of tech from microservices, dev-ops, serverless, etc .. In due time, all the chatbots being piloted today would have enough data to be able to replace a large portion of the helpdesk.
They talk about Neobanks today — banks with no branches, central offices or any kind of infrastructure of their own? Then you have warehouses like Amazon’s where robots do most of the heavy lifting. Digitization just got more extreme. That’s where we’re headed, whether we accept it or not.
The Cloud Descends
The first vertical to benefit from covid-19, needless to say was the public cloud. Of course the public cloud has been growing over the last few years steadily with behemoths like AWS leading the pack. Back then, it was those nimble studio-apartment startups which were buying into the cloud story more due to the cost savings on infrastructure.
The pandemic actually pushed middle to large size companies to consider certain types of workloads on the public cloud. Since then, most cloud players have released private cloud extensions, targeted specially at these large behemoths with huge data centers. The more applications migrating to the cloud, the more cloud skilled professionals are needed that can bridge the gap between the cloud and the on-premise world. Today you have more certified cloud professionals than actual practitioners themselves as can be easily observed on linkedin postings.
The Global Chip Winter
Ever since the onset of covid, certain Industries experienced an unnatural increase in demand for chips — gaming systems (the kind that could keep the family peace at home) and Cryptocurrencies (suddenly in overdrive). It must be said that not all cryptocurrencies are as compute intensive as bitcoin (proof of stake) but they all need some manner of GPU’s all the same. The Crypto revolution also meant more private blockchains which in turn relied upon more horsepower to power these networks. Oh wait — did I not say that even Networks need specialized chips of their own?
Simultaneously, almost due to some freak act of God, a whirlwind blew across Texas in early 2021 year cutting power supply to big cities for weeks and hitting chip production severely. Elsewhere across the world in Taiwan a drought hit T.S.M.C.’s production output. To make things even worse, a tit-for-tat trade war between Trump and Xi Peng was reaching its zenith with restrictions being imposed on US firms purchasing chips from China. This was indeed a perfect storm in the making.
Since then governments across the world have spoken out in favor of localizing the production of such critical components to avoid these dependencies. Among all the covid disruptions, this may take the longest to recover to post pandemic levels, factoring that the demand is just getting higher. Intel has recently announced plans for setting up more fabrication units in the US. Expect a few more giants to follow suit in this regard. The chip shortage is far from over.
Yes, so we’re finally here. It was the pandemic that denied the 2nd term to Donald Trump. The Trump Tax cut down to 21% did boost the domestic economy and business owners give him full credit, though the congressional budget office (CBO) later admitted that the gains were minimal it did add to the overall debt. Depending upon which media channel you watch, Trump is either demonized or hero-worshipped.
In retrospect, it was the Trade war with China that was one of Trump’s biggest knockout punches. Never before had any country taken China on head-on, preferring not to side-step delicate issues due to trade benefits. For all Trump’s idiosyncrasies (to put it mildly), he had critical support in Asia too. After all, for most Asian countries, China is their enemy at the gates.
However it was his completely nonchalant and non-scientific approach to handling the pandemic that did him in. He had medical experts on his team but never heeded them. At one point, they seemed to be showcases for his re-election campaign. At the peak of the pandemic spread, he never imposed masks (even when it was spreading rapidly then), and himself travelled the country without one.
Covid may be through with Trump, but Trump seems far from over.