A year of resilience, excellence, and new trends. 2020 caught us by surprise but left us with new lessons. See how stay-at-home entertainment, remote work, and financial instability changed the way we used to do things.
An Unprecedented Take-off
It surely didn’t look like much back then but the political tensions started bubbling back in January 2020 when the Iranian hackers breached foolproof security of a US federal site. They besmirched the page with pro-Iranian messages after US did a precision airstrike and killed Iran’s top military leader.
It was also the month where first case of the novel coronavirus was reported in United States of America, who knew that by the end of year it will be giving a doomsday feel to rest of the world?
E-commerce and Robots
As COVID cases began to rise around the world and it became unsafe to go out for shopping and food takeaways, eCommerce i.e. online shopping took hold of people. The newer method was deemed as the safer alternative by millions around the globe to tackle government imposed lockdowns and stay at home orders.
Some companies in China and US even upped it a bit by thinking of contactless delivery that could be done by robots. Though contactless delivery was launched by food delivery services around the globe but truer narrative wasn’t achieved as humans still had to hand deliver food and other essentials. Only US consumers spent a whopping $709.78 bn on ecommerce in 2020, something to think about.
In Pakistan, according to Google insights, decline in footfall to stores was evident. Conversely, there was an increase in interest for brands with online presence. Brand search interest growth grew for the following brands by hundreds of Percent denoting a significant new trend for this year.
The Virus Spreads Further
It was on February 15th that first European death from COVID 19 was reported along with a documented total of 67000 cases. The ferocious clutches of contagious virus were now gripping other continents and people could do nothing except wait in horror and fear.
An air of horror blew as epicenters shifted from Wuhan to Italy to New York. It struck at an unprecedented pace and spew dreadful consequences
On February 29th, the first death in US was reported in Washington DC as virus ravaged through populations around the globe prominently in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
Starting march 4, Japan announced that it would quarantine people travelling from South Korea and China in an effort to curb the spread of virus. By March 6th the total tally of people affected by coronavirus around the globe had reached 100,000 compelling governments to impose strict restrictions on free movement and closing down of schools such as in Italy.
As situation worsened, consumers in Pakistan turned towards online delivery services as a safe alternative to restock their grocery and other essentials. Still, food delivery comprises a large percentage of total searches conducted for delivery. Below are few delivery search terms that Pakistani’s searched for:
This justifies the resultant increase in interest for Foodpanda, Cheetay, Daraz.pk, HumMart, and other ecommerce stores.
How can we overlook the “hygiene products” though which are now considered as essentials because of COVID?
- There was an increase of more than 956% MoM for Dettol products
- There was an increase of more than 1249% MoM for Cool&Cool products
Work from Home (WFH) & Online Education
In order to ensure social distancing to curb the spread of virus, employees all around the world were asked to work from home and it was all possible by using technologies such as Virtual private networks (VPN), cloud technology, Voice over Internet protocols (VOIPS), remote collaboration tools, and AI.
In Pakistan, Implementation of precautions by companies drove a 225% Week over Week (WoW) increase in “Work from Home” and related terms.
Growing Interest in Web Conferencing
Incorporation of internet miracles into our daily lives was tested on another level when distance learning came into effect with learners taking classes from their homes and teachers giving lectures via the same medium. Software such as Google meet, zoom, and Skype were used for exchanging knowledge throughout the world and helped businesses perform steadily in a human deprived world.
In Pakistan, remote working and online classes drove a significant increase in web conferencing applications. About 46% YoY increase was reported in terms such as VPN. It can be seen in below graphs that applications such as Zoom and Skype saw a multifold increase in downloads as government imposed lockdown in March.
The Year that Earth Stood Still
However, challenges to information security, personal error, privacy laws, and other cross channels came to light as pandemic resulted in complete cut-off of face to face interaction. Remote work also led to a disturbed work-life balance as people started working round the clock because frankly, they had nowhere to go. A lot of employees were either furloughed or let go because of the devastating economic figures that denoted financial blow on international level.
“Fear of the pandemic challenged our belief in known science and made advancements in health sector doubtable”
From freight to cargo and from air to sea, all sorts of transport and travel came to a halt as countries started to close border, both air and land to ensure that their citizens remained safe. Because all sorts of businesses were closed in the initial phases of lockdown all around the globe, economies started to crumble and the world saw black Mondays after black Mondays after black Mondays or the coronavirus crash of stock market.
Pakistani’s, same as other nations, tried to cut down on their expenses to counter financial burden and tried to stay aware of recession as financial conditions worsened.
New Trends Emerging
A study rolled out soon after the virus was characterized as a pandemic in March 2020 that the virus can stay alive on different surfaces for specific number of hours or even days. This worked like a nail in the coffin for people who were already on the verge of emotional meltdown due to the constant fear of contracting COVID and literally drove people to the edge of insanity.
The non-Contact Revolution
In order to counter the surface contamination, methods of handling cash and food and packaging, all changed and instead contactless delivery, contactless payment, and digital transactions took over.
It was found that the coronavirus can also be spread by cash; therefore, state banks in mainly developed countries implemented new measures for clean notes to curb the spread of virus.
In addition, most banks and shops simultaneously introduced dynamic QR code payments, e-wallets, and digital currency such as Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Bitcoin as safe alternatives.
However, Bitcoin remains the most innovative and popular digital currency used by millions of people each year. In this Bitcoin’s History blog, find out more about Bitcoin and its reign in the digital currency market.
However, billions of people around the globe don’t have access to banking, and for them, these alternatives aren’t exactly at the stretch of their hands.
“We aren’t all in the same boat. Some are in cruise ships, others are on Yachts, and some are only left with a plank of wood to hold on”
The non-contact revolution also led Pakistanis to search for “how to pay online”, “recharges”, and how to stay connected.
A home-alone population was yearning for ways that can help them survive this self-inflicted solitary confinement. This longing was fulfilled by OTT and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon prime video, HBO max, Disney +, mjunoon.tv and others.
In Pakistan, people turned to YouTube for learning new skills and coping with challenges at hand.
When you are restricted to your house, the only vacation that you can have is to move from one room to another and at such crucial times, streaming giants came to the rescue and literally helped people cope with this chaos.
Don’t Cut Out Mobile Gaming!
Online mobile games such PUBG, Freefire, and a ton of others have been offering shelter to gamers from the harsh world outside, since a long time. However, as lockdown was imposed people, from all walks of life turned to mobile gaming and consoles for entertainment.
Pakistani’s also strived to stay fit, eat new and healthy dishes, and parents tried to keep their children busy because it’s difficult to control these cute monsters turning the house upside down.
An Increase in Home Workout Searches:
5G – A Rumor
People started speculating around the globe that COVID-19 was spreading due to 5G and with that rumor, reports started coming in that people are trying to stop the installation of 5G towers. Authorities had to come forward and clear the issue that 5G and COVID19 has no links whatsoever. In truest of terms, 2020 has been a crazy year!
COVID & PSL
As sports events around the world were cancelled, PSL (Pakistan Super league) also had to bear the brunt of imposed restrictions. The cricket deprived nation of Pakistan was dying to see international players create some magic strokes on their soil but because of social distancing issues, PSL was postponed for an indefinite time. PSL came back to cricket stadiums later on but spectators still weren’t allowed so again everyone enjoyed those scintillating cricket moments on streaming platforms such as Mjunoon.tv.
A Step into the Future
This pandemic taught us many things and is still helping us focus on the basic principles to live because when we were stuck in homes, all we valued was human interaction that we often took for granted. With mobile technology, GPS time clock, E-wallets, mobility services, tracing algorithms, and a ton of other services, we have somehow endured this tough time but imagine the turmoil if we hadn’t have access to any of these developments?
“Let this pandemic serve as a reminder that technology can help us live better and safer lives”
This bolstered our confidence in use of technology for making our lives better and for improved protection of humanity from novel diseases of the future. No one knows what the future holds and that’s why it’s important to cling on to the basics.
Because we are talking about future, let us also talk about how Pakistani’s are looking to contribute and how they are trying to help others in need.
The search trends for helping out and contributing show that during this time, search interest for these words has grown by hundreds of percent.
We can abridge this gap by helping Pakistani’s stay connected and ensuring that we all stick together.
While we are on the topic let us remind you that the World Health Organization (WHO) and centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) marked washing hands as the best defence against this virus. You need to wash your hands with bar soap and water for 20 seconds to stop the spread of this virus and keep yourself and your loved ones protected.
“Let’s praise those who laid their lives and worked with scars to protect us and our loved ones. Doctors, paramedics, and all those associated with essential services deserve more than just respect”
Wearing masks is a must when in public places so keep your nose and mouth properly covered with a face mask and stay 6 feet apart from other people while in public. Most importantly, as recommended by health authorities, keep washing your hands multiple times in a day.
Vaccine Creation & Distribution
From sputnik V to moderna to AstraZeneca, all vaccines are coming to light aimed at protecting the world from Coronavirus. Vaccines that have cleared phase 3 trials and have now been approved for use by FDA are already being distributed but the problem is timely distribution. In third world countries or economically weak nations, it would be a big problem as wealthy countries have already acquired vaccine doses 3 times more than what is required. Now its high time that these countries show humanity and share the burden of underprivileged segments of society. Here too, technology serves as an aid to humanity because systemic vaccine distribution is impossible without proper planning.
Final Word & Luck
With that being said, we hope and pray that 2021 will be kind to us. We celebrated 2020 the same as 2019 but met with widespread disappointment. Let’s stay together and ensure that those who are in need of help in these tough times are getting help as and when needed. A comprehensive look back at 2020 was indispensable to realizing the importance of technology, efforts of health care workers, and significance of following guidelines.
If you still have any questions, you can ask us right away. Experts at Convex are always open to answering queries.