As SARS-CoV-2 continues its rampage across the globe, businesses are hurting. Global markets have taken a hit. The U.S unemployment rate jumped to levels never seen before, and will likely get worse before it gets better. There’s no way to sugar coat this — the economic news looks bleak.
Unless you’re big tech.
Many tech companies find themselves in the eye of the coronavirus hurricane. Not just surviving but, in some cases, thriving. Amazon has announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse workers to meet growing demand. Facebook, Microsoft, and Zoom are seeing explosive growth in the use of their communication services. Digital online services, including Netflix, Disney+, and Twitch, have added new subscribers.
These services have been trending up for a while. But, while many other companies are struggling, the coronavirus may prove to be a tipping point for technological adoption. People who already used these tools will use them more often. And a whole new group of people who had never used them before will start. I can personally name dozens of friends who are channeling their inner Jane Jetson and trying video conferencing for the first time. My hunch is that it won’t be the last time.
Marketing historians credit Coca-Cola with creating the first ever consumer coupon. The idea is simple: if you can persuade a consumer to try something once, there’s a chance they’ll enjoy it enough to keep coming back for more (of course, this is much easier to do when your product includes an actual highly-addictive ingredient). In a way, quarantines and physical distancing are forcing a similar “try before you buy” behavior. And, similar to using a coupon, if we like the product, we’ll continue to use it. Even after the external forcing function is removed.
As hard as it might be to imagine now, the economy will recover. Eventually. Businesses of all types and sizes will rebound. And many tech companies — especially those that facilitate communication, connection, and commerce — will end up stronger than they were before.