The impact of Covid-19 on the economy has been felt differently by different industries. E-commerce and videoconferencing platforms have found their value skyrocketing; events and leisure companies have faced an existential threat.
For the computer industry, the crisis has been something of a mixed bag. There have been challenges, particularly when we consider how interconnected the global supply chain for electronics is. But there have also been opportunities brought about by the fact that so many consumers are seeking to entertain themselves indoors or working remotely from a home-office.
The year started out as a positive one for the worldwide PC market. After eight years of stagnation, 2019 turned out to be a full year of growth. This was mostly triggered by Microsoft’s ending of support for Windows 7, which forced large numbers of businesses to make the switch to Windows 10.
The first quarter saw a marked downturn in demand. Consumers facing uncertain futures naturally reigned in their spending, and high-value devices like laptops, tablets and desktop machines were among the first casualties. By the time quarter two rolled around, however, the rebound was well underway. Realising that they’re more reliant on their home computers, workers and students made the decision to invest in them. By this point, the supply chain had recovered to the extent that the demand could be catered to. It remains unlikely that this uptick will be sustained once the short-term business needs of adapting businesses have been catered to.
The computer industry has also done its part in battling against the virus itself. The Folding at Home program allows users across the world to contribute to the battle against the virus, performing vital simulations which might inform future treatments and vaccines. Among the organisation’s ambassadors are the CEOs of Microsoft, AMD and Nvidia, the latter of which took the time to praise the initiative at the start of a recent event to launch its Ampere-series graphics cards.
With businesses and consumers across the world looking to upgrade, so as to meet the demands of their new working arrangements, the industry could experience a sustained period of growth. We’re already mentioned the giants of the industry. But providers of peripherals and components, like RS Components, might also find themselves borne upward by the demand. Whether this trend persists will depend on the medical situation, of course, which remains volatile, as well as broader economic trends.
IT Trends to Watch in 2020 and Beyond
With the ever-evolving world of cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity is now more important than ever. All-new fronts have become a vulnerability for companies and even governments and therefore, security is seeing a shift from being a purely defensive mantra towards a more proactive one. The process is no longer strictly defined from start to finish, but rather permeates business operations as a whole. Cybersecurity experts must be part of risk assessment and will be tasked with continuously scanning for newly emerging threats. Overall, we are seeing cybersecurity being disconnected from general IT and the demand for field experts is on a steady rise.
As mentioned, artificial intelligence will continue to rise in importance, especially when considering its implementation within the industry 4.0 context, wherein machines, products and workers are connected via the internet of things. However, rather than being completely autonomous, AI in our current understanding is almost synonymous to algorithms, which are used to process massive amounts of data. Still, as an essential technology it will give rise to plenty of opportunities. The demand for AI specialists has grown by 74% in 2020, making it the top emerging job of the year, but AI engineers, developers and researchers are also hired at a much higher frequency.
With the global information technology industry well on its way to reaching $5.2 Trillion in spending, it is certainly the area to watch not only for prospective jobs, but also for investment opportunities. Covid-19, as described before, has had an effect on the growth rate, but could not stop it entirely. Despite a high degree of uncertainty, the industry is set to grow by about 3% in 2020, mostly due to emerging technologies.