It is a testing time for all of us as the world comes to a standstill. The COVID-19, virus spread through the labs of Wuhan, China has taken a toll on every individual, industry, and country across the world. The malls are shut, shops are closed, public gatherings are banned. Travelers are advised to stay at home. The use of masks, sanitizers is on an all-time high. In many countries, a national emergency has been declared in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. As per an estimate, the effect of this pandemic is likely to continue at least till August this year. In these testing times, we all are expected to do our bit to remain isolated, maintain hygiene, and restrict our movements to a bare minimum. It gives all of us an opportunity to connect with our near and dear ones inside the house, play a game of chess, ludo, or abalone. This is also an opportunity to go digital. For many of us who were wary of using technology till now, this is the best time to learn and put the technology to its optimum.
Technology at the Workplace
For those who travel to work, can plan to stay at home and still continue to be effective. There are many apps and online sites like WhatsApp, Skype, eztalk.com to name a few which offer video conferencing services for free for a restricted number of users. Many websites offer services like board rooms. webinars, conferences, etc online. Govt of India through National Knowledge Network has launched Desktop-based video conferencing facility, which is extensively used by Govt departments nationwide. The Honourable PM has used this service to address many in the Govt departments, Chief Ministers of states, and masses where he could not reach physically. The use of these apps/websites will not only reduce the effect of a pandemic but will also reduce the fuel bill and save the time for individuals. The unclassified documents can be prepared and forwarded online through emails, official emails, etc and one individual on a daily basis or weekly basis can be nominated within organizations to sign the documents wherever necessary.
Most of us are used to buying services online (like air tickets, booking hotel room etc), online product purchases are restricted to one time purchases for the standard products which require a medium level of involvement. The trust level is very low in the case of buying FMCG products like vegetables online. This is the best time to experiment and give FMCG companies an opportunity to streamline their supply chain online and offer the best products. Online shopping of FMCG products will save time, efforts and also help individuals escape the typical ‘vegetable market’ environment to avoid pandemic. One can also consider occasionally ordering food online through apps like Swiggy and Zomato and making it a ‘party time’ at home instead of visiting one’s favorite eating joint. Most of the restaurants and eating joints are already offering home delivery of all their menu through their own websites or through the aggregators. Consumer Cooperative organizations like Cooperative Stores of Central Govt and CSDs of Defence services, instead of closing down, can consider enhancing their supply chain and go online and offer door to door services. This could cut down on the expenditure of maintaining the stores. As a next step, these cooperative stores could adopt a model like Govt eMarket Place(GeM) to provide goods to their registered customers by tie-up with trades to offer products online directly to customer’s premises.
The smaller denominations of physical currency change hands at least five times in a day making us more prone to the pandemic. It is time for all of us to go digital and use apps like PayTM, GooglePay, PhonePay, Airtel money and Amazon money to name a few. One must cut down on travel to deposit electricity or water bills at offices, recharge mobile phones, and DTH at nominated shops thus avoiding contact with strangers. The online payments and recharge are instantaneous and do not require ‘a middleman’. The confirmation is instantaneous and the recharges are successful immediately enabling an individual to make a call or watch an important program on television which would have got missed due to want of recharge at an odd hour.
This is the best time to communicate with friends, relatives, near and dear ones who are at a distance over a drink sitting in front of a mobile phone through WhatsApp or Skype app. This practice can save the agony of the host who needs to prepare for long to receive guests and also it gives freedom to sit casually in one’s own home and optimally utilize the time. Social media like Twitter is also used by approx. 52% of the population in the USA to access news. Most of the Indian and international newspapers are available online on the day of their publication. The use of online media, the fifth estate, is on the rise. The use of online news instead of printed newspaper will not just save oneself from pandemic due to contact of paper but will also help save millions of the Govt and individuals by saving trees.
Clean Your Digital Cupboard
It is the time to clean digital cupboard by discarding old CDs/DVDs in which music, movies, software, and data was saved. Music apps like wynks, gaana, saavn etc are available for free in their basic version. Searching a song on these apps is easier than searching in CDs/DVDs. YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar the online video streaming apps, offer thousands of movies online for free or for a nominal charge. Individuals must clean their digital data which has been lying unused for years in that hard disk in the last shelf of the cupboard or in computers and laptops. This could save digital storage space and make computers and mobile phones faster and more efficient. Nowadays most of the cloud services are available for free offering loads of digital storage space. Google Drive offers a free storage space of 15 GB for free per account and more at a nominal cost. There are many other such storage spaces available online. One can play smart by taking free space from number of such online cloud storage services and keep different categories of essential data in soft form in different accounts. Alternatively, one can create the number of accounts on one cloud service and save more data. This is also the time to convert old videotapes lying in the corner of the Almira. The old handy cams which used cassettes are obsolete products. The old cassettes carrying sentiments have a shelf life. One can convert the important videos of one’s marriage or child’s birthday party into the digital MPEG format. A simple TV tuner card can do the trick at home. Else one can give the cassettes to a professional photographer who can convert these videos to digital format for a small amount of money. The old obsolete digital products like digital cameras, MP3 players, video games, older models of routers and modems need a relook as they are occupying space. That bag of tangled wires, which could be required at any time, connecting an electronic product to other need to be sorted as most of the devices have gone wire free or are on digital interface like HDMI. It is also a good time to convert all the certificates in digital form through a scanner and storing them on the DigiLocker – an online cloud storage service by Govt of India. This will enable the availability of these documents anywhere and at any time. Some of the other non-confidential documents like Adhaar Card, PAN card and Voter ID card can also be scanned and kept in soft form as these documents are required more frequently. A word of caution here that the physical form of documents cannot replace the soft copy at places requiring original documents for identification.
As we march into the second decade of this millennium, the way we educate ourselves is changing. The education is no longer restricted to those who can afford to reach campuses or attend schools. An individual with a smartphone in the remotest village of Ladakh or Assam can also look forward to quality education. The examinations are the only aspect of the learning which could be restricted to physical space. During this period of pandemic, one can best utilize his/her time by joining online courses suiting one’s own interest. There are many apps and websites like Byju’s, Udemy, Lynda and Khan Academy which are offering such courses online with certification.
Internet, a crazy place, could be one’s launchpad to fame. YouTube was once restricted to watching songs and video clips online. Now-a-days, stars are born on YouTube. Some of the individuals rose to fame overnight. Dabbu ji’s dance and moves gave Govinda a run for his money. The video of dancing uncle went viral overnight attracting more than four million hits. One wink and the entire country was hooked. Priya Varrier, dabbed as the national crush of India, instantaneously became most searched woman in India. Closer home, a heartwarming speech by the mother of a bride, wife of an ex-Army officer, Mrs Sonia Relia, became viral attracting more than seven million views. One can, thus, utilize this formidable tool to upload one’s video on any natural or acquired skills, share knowledge and connect with masses in a short period of time.
Technology is an enabler for one and all. However, it is also a popular belief that people are the biggest roadblock to technology. Time could not be better to utilise the technology to it’s best. It is an appeal to one and all to shun the mental blocks of working only in physical space, thereby promoting digitization and enhancing efficiency. Let’s go digital, Let’s Karo Na.