Predicting the unpredictable: COVID-19 is changing the IT devices business

The devices business is sensitive to how and where people work, communicate and play

The COVID-19 crisis is changing how and where people work and how they spend their free time, all of which directly affects the PC business, adjacent devices and services businesses, in addition to networks, data centers and cloud businesses. Many of these changes are opportunities for device vendors, but the global recession, and buyers’ conservatism in the face of uncertainty, will negatively impact vendors until a recovery is underway. The novel coronavirus illness and consequent control measures are influencing the supply and delivery chains as well as sales and servicing processes. Even after recovery from both the pandemic and the recession, some of the changes in working patterns are likely to be permanent as institutions and people find benefits in remote work, accelerating and institutionalizing a growing trend. Similarly, the movement toward using technology to improve health and healthcare is being greatly accelerated by the crisis.

The global crisis has many moving parts, all affecting devices and how they are used

There are several different components to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The illness itself is changing the lives of many people and directly affecting the global workforce as people become ill and others are caring for them.
  • The measures taken to slow the spread of the disease are drastically reducing economic activity, and devices sales are closely tied to economic activity.
  • Most importantly for the devices business, many more people are working remotely and many are relying more heavily on home-based communication and entertainment.
  • The implosion of the travel and hospitality businesses, as well as other personal services and retail businesses, is causing a rapid decrease in global economic activity, exacerbated by the downstream consequences of direct impacts to business.
  • It is possible that the virus and its mutations will impose a long-lasting threat, resulting in long-term changes to patterns of living and working.
  • Some of the changes brought about by the pandemic are accelerations of existing trends, such as working remotely, adoption of cloud-based solutions, and telemedicine; as such, these will remain in place after the crisis subsides.
  • The severity and the duration of the current crisis is indeterminate, undoubtedly leading to long-term consequences.
  • It is likely that as some geographic areas recover, other areas, especially rural areas, will experience new pandemic-based limitations on social interaction.
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