Few could have predicted the disruption wrought by the coronavirus in 2020. Indeed, when the virus first began to engulf the world last March, nobody was bold enough to forecast how the pandemic was about to become an accelerant for technologies and tech firms around the world. Crises tend to have a transformative effect on societies. Covid-19 merely helped accelerate changes that were already in the making from the rise and rise of e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.com, grocery delivery services such as DoorDash as well as digital payment platforms such as Square’s Cash App, PayPal’s Venmo and digital or telehealth providers such as Teladoc Health.
Over the past year, from Singapore to São Paolo, the world has embraced tech that powered work-from-home facilitators such as Zoom Video Communications as well as stay-at-home platforms such as streaming service Netflix, video game software firm Roblox and commission-free, fractional shares, invest-from-anywhere platforms such as Robinhood.
Yet, after a spectacular year, tech now has a tough act to follow in 2021. Despite the arrival of vaccines, the pandemic lingers and the world is still coming to terms with its aftershocks. Moreover, it is still unclear how even an effective vaccine will change long-term consumer behaviour. You’d think people would want to touch and feel expensive jewellery. Wrong. Last year, Tiffany & Co’s sales grew just 2% while its e-commerce sales surged 80% as affluent customers bought necklaces, bracelets and rings sight unseen, online. Will the Internet of Things, cloud computing and genomics gain momentum in the post-pandemic new normal? Will enterprise software see the first signs of a deceleration in 2021? Will we ever feel safe in crowded places like malls or cinemas again?