Everyone Going Online – Blog Post #433 by Asrar Qureshi
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Over One Year of COVID prevalence has impacted the world in many significant ways, which remains under discussion at all platforms. In this blogpost, I wish to highlight one aspect, which is ‘Going Online’.
There are several aspects of going online. The most prevalent is ‘shopping online’ which was already there before COVID but has increased many times during the pandemic. Food was the latest addition because of closure of eating places for extended periods. Even now, indoor seating is prohibited, and outdoor seating is not universally liked due to harsh weather, be it winter or summer.
Medical consultation online in Pakistan caught up quickly. Video consultation is now available in virtually all specialties. It has made life easier for so many patients in so many ways. As happens, with the need arising for online consultation, several apps have also come up to facilitate the process. The patients can download the apps, book an appointment, pay online and connect through the given link at the appointed time. The process is going fine as reported by several patients.
Grocery shopping online options have increased, but still a fraction is bought online. Majority prefers to go to store and buy. It may not be entirely due to distrust. There is a family enjoyment attached to grocery shopping.
The quality of goods supplied through online shopping keeps raising questions, even for bigger e-market places. This element is certainly disturbing.
One particular area, which I am seeing internationally is yet not seen here. This is online coaching and consultation by many known people. The writers are teaching about writing. Most recently, I saw ads on LinkedIn from Malcolm Gladwell (the Tipping Point fame). Even Salman Rushdie has come out and offered teaching lessons online. The offers for coaching in different areas are multiplying every day.
Trend for holding Masterclasses has multiplied. Previously, a Masterclass was a big affair, few and far between and in-person. A Masterclass is usually offered to those who are already at an advanced level in their career or business or trade. It is gathering of ‘achievers’ we may say, and the purpose is to pool their learning, channelize it under the supervision of an even higher achiever, and design ways to further enhance the level of achievement. I see many ads about Masterclasses these days and I wonder if an online Masterclass can achieve the same level as that of personal interaction.
Zoom is among the biggest beneficiaries of COVID. Literally, everyone was turning to Zoom for holding online meetings and discussions. Share prices of the Zoom company therefore climbed almost vertically. The owner of Zoom is Zoom Video Communications Inc. USA. Zoom was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan. It provides video telephony and online chat service and is being used for multiple purposes. Most commonly, it is being used for teleconferencing, telecommuting and distance education. Zoom gained 635% growth in 2020 and became the most well-known video conferencing app used during the times of COVID quarantine, #stayathome and #workfromhome. In October 2022, Zoom achieved market cap of 140 billion, which later dropped by 15% after the announcement of availability of COVID vaccine. Zoom is going to stay here for long term, in my view. More and better Apps may come in time to enrich this area and give competition to Zoom. We, in Pakistan, are also using Zoom but it is mostly the free version which does not offer all features and is a poorer substitute. We are used to working with free softwares, knowing that full features are not available, and we still do wonders with them. Imagine what shall we do, if we work with full amenities.
In Pakistan, the biggest increase was seen in WhatsApp usage. It became the primary and most used means of communication. WhatsApp is now ruling with probably the highest number of subscribers.
Online money transfer became popular and became the order of the day. Jazzcash, Easypaisa must have seen a huge rise in the number of transactions routed through them.
Education at all levels went online and went haywire. Most schools did not have any arrangement for imparting online classes. Many children did not have enough facilities for receiving online education. The result was that education was suspended for a large number of school students. This further led the parents to stop paying fees, which in turn led to an ongoing scuffle between parents and school administrations.
Question is, will the same trend continue after the COVID scare is over? I believe it will continue because of the convenience and quickness it has added to life. If you think differently, please share your reasons.
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