COVID-19 and Technology Adoption

by Patrice Samuels | Apr. 9, 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent shelter-in-place mandates by government officials in many states have led to a dramatic shift in how consumers live and conduct business, including an increase in adoption and use of technology.

Social distancing guidelines dictate that work, education, and entertainment activities are all centered on the home. In addition, brick-and-mortar retail store shopping is severely restricted, and consumers must find other ways to attain services that minimize contact with other people. Thirty percent of US broadband households report that they are strictly quarantining at this time, seeing no other people outside of their households, and 70% report that they are social distancing, but go out as necessary.

The boost to technology adoption driven by these guidelines is evident. Working, schooling, and social get-togethers from home is driving high usage of video communication tools including Zoom, FaceTime, WhatApps, and GoToMeeting. The need for entertainment while at home has led to a run on online video services such as Netflix. Medical visits and other essential services are now being performed online, where possible—again driving the use of video communication tools. Where in-person transactions are still possible, such as at grocery stores or for restaurant takeout, no-contact transactions and payments are recommended. This promotes the use of online delivery services and payment apps. Fifty-three percent of US broadband households report that they value technology products and services more now than they did before COVID-19.

Like all other industries, COVID-19 provides headwinds and tailwinds for the premium technical support service providers.

Headwind:

  • Social distancing guidelines will limit the provision of device installation services, which have been a significant opportunity for technical support providers in the smart home space.


Tailwinds:

  • Technology laggards may need hand-holding as they try to leverage new technologies. Some will be willing to pay for additional support.
  • High traffic on consumers’ home networks can negatively impact broadband services. Consumers may need help optimizing home networks to minimize service interruptions.
  • While innovative app platforms, such as Grubhub, Shipt, and Zoom that help consumers conduct business from home are benefitting from the increased traffic, many do not have the resources to also accommodate an increasing demand for technical support. Support providers can partner with these companies to help triage support calls and help manage the increasing burden.

Just as consumers have adopted new technologies to adapt to changing lifestyles, support providers also have the opportunity to update their technologies in ways that facilitate more efficient remote support.  Over the past few years, solution providers have developed technologies that leverage video streams coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to remotely help consumers identify and resolve problems. Remote support solutions ultimately reduce the cost of providing support and increases the profitability of premium support services.

Parks Associates is tracking the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on consumer use of and demand for technology and services.

  • Results from Parks Associates’ March 2020 survey are forthcoming in COVID-19: Impact on Consumer Behavior and Spending.
  • Results from Parks Associates Q2 2020 survey will investigate consumer experience with various technology devices and services in these challenging times and need for technical support solutions.


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