There are a lot of similarities between the Spanish Influenza of the early 20th century and COVID-19 of 2019 and beyond. For one, they are both contagious illnesses, with the Spanish flu being caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus, and COVID-19 being caused by a new strain of coronavirus. For another, they have claimed the lives of so many people and have caused so much suffering all over the world.
But one thing that makes COVID-19 different from the Spanish flu is that it’s happening at a time when humanity has more tools and equipment to slow or stop its advancement. While there’s no denying that COVID-19 has been hard for modern-day humanity, especially in the area of business and the global economy, we have also been given weapons in our arsenal that people who battled the Spanish flu didn’t.
Here are some technological developments that are helping the business world win the fight against COVID-19.
Robotics and AI
Robotics and artificial intelligence have been at the forefront of making operations much more convenient for corporations around the globe. Cleaning robots are currently being used in many airports all over the world to sanitize and disinfect common and high-touch areas, allowing for the tourism industry to flourish despite the pandemic. Some companies have also employed the use of robots to deliver goods to consumers in an effort to eliminate face-to-face interaction between people.
Lunit, a South Korean medical software company, was able to develop an artificial intelligence program that is capable of diagnosing lung diseases through X-ray images. This software has allowed the country to flatten the curve, giving businesses and corporations the opportunity to operate the way they would without a pandemic. Lunit has made its tech available for free, giving hospitals in Brazil a fighting chance to detect lung diseases in patients early.
Delivery service software
Cargo X, a logistics technology company from Brazil, has helped keep the economy going by supporting the delivery of essential goods like medicines, hygiene products, and food at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. They have set up a substantial fund and software to allow drivers and carriers to be paid upfront—with 70% being sent to them before the transport, and the remaining 30% given when the delivery has been carried out. The software has allowed the costs to be spread in order to support the drivers and carriers when the flow of cash is tight.
Starling Bank, a fintech company based in the United Kingdom, has created a debit card that allows a trusted person to buy things on behalf of people who have to self-isolate. It has provided an extra layer of protection for the U.K.’s most vulnerable and high-risk individuals by removing the need for cash or checks, and most especially for the at-risk individuals to be able to avoid person-to-person contact. It has allowed essential businesses like grocery stores and supermarkets to provide goods and services to the most vulnerable members of society.
Digitalization and automation
Software companies like ServiceNow Implementation have made it easier for businesses to shift to remote work through services like:
- Automating the flow of work
- Application development for every line of business
- Field service management, which replaces e-mails, spreadsheets, and other management devices with a single system
- Financial service management, which helps companies with payroll issues and financial reports
- HR service management, which creates a system that works in conjunction with the companies’ existing applications for core human resources
- IT service management, which allows for increased efficiency at lower costs by consolidating and automating companies’ service management processes
- Security operations, especially now that many companies’ operations have moved online and are more vulnerable to cyberattack
Through various digital solutions and services, companies have been able to keep operating efficiently despite the challenges of the pandemic and the adjustments that come with remote work.
Contact tracing apps
Enterprise contact tracing apps can help corporations locate where employees have been and the people they have been in contact with, giving them enough time to mandate employees to go home and self-isolate for a few weeks if they have been exposed. These apps can help curb the spread of the virus in companies.
Tech and Business Go Hand in Hand
If the virus doesn’t kill people, the overwhelming economic downturn will. This is why the medical community should not be the only ones fighting this battle; stopping the virus in its tracks requires that the governments of the world alongside the medical, scientific, technological, and business communities come together. Every sector has a part to play, and if we all come together for this common purpose, we might just have a fighting chance.