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Post-pandemic IT strategy; comfort, productivity, security

Mounir Jamil

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Post-pandemic IT strategy

While almost all industries where rattled by the advent of the pandemic – a commonality that they all shared was just how crucial tech is right now, and how it has acted as an enabler in 2020.

These strides in tech where what allowed companies to continue operations throughout lockdowns and enabled staff to work comfortable and efficiently from home.

This need for new tech, however, had a strenuous toll on IT departments globally forcing teams late into the night to roll out emergency solutions. All this was happening while global supply chains faltered and at some points even collapsed due to the pressure.

The strain was so intense, that every other company faced supply chain disruptions in 2020, causing IT buyers to pay a premium when it came to procuring the most basic equipment needed to keep business up and running.

Stepping into 2021, we try to learn from the several lessons the previous year has to offer and work on formulating a concrete post-pandemic IT strategy with a greater focus on the long term.

Making home more homy

When the pandemic first broke out, companies’ main focus was how to immediately meet needs and priorities such as keeping staff operational as they adapted to working from home.

Companies that mitigated the first wave of the pandemic are finally catching a breather – this will be a critical phase in planning ahead when it comes to accommodating for staff that are working from homes and making their stay more comfortable.

We can see that procurement priorities have changed from getting the basics towards meeting the needs of a broader workforce. Finally, wellbeing is becoming a bigger priority as well as we can see ergonomic office material on the rise as companies strive to create an ideal environment for the teams to work in.

In parallel, the needs for better connectivity at home, be it more reliable Wi-Fi or better sound and audio quality are also witnessing an increase. We can see that this IT strategy post-pandemic will prove to be useful on both the short and long run.

Maximizing productivity

It’s not just hardware that requires greater consideration, though. Hastily thrown-together collaborative systems, that got employees through the early months, need to be reviewed. Are those combinations of cloud-based video conferencing and email systems helping employees get the job done, or have elements started to inhibit productivity? Is a more joined-up workflow required to fit the way employees want to operate?

Hardware is one side of the equation, but that leaves out software such as applications and systems that have been quickly adopted to meet the needs of the pandemic.

The systems that got us through the first months of the pandemic need to be seriously reviewed. Some questions we might ask are whether these combinations of cloud-based video conferencing and email systems still helping in getting the job done? Are certain elements proving to be bottlenecks or are they hindering productivity? Is a more synchronized workflow needed to meet new needs?

This is the best time for IT leaders to evaluate the efficiency of the systems they currently have in place, while considering new alternatives that bring new features to the table.

Security, security, security

Another priority on many IT directors’ to-do list is security. Companies that rushed to equip employees with computers, and provide remote access at home, will need to ensure that no corners were cut in the process – and that critical functions remain secure.

A major theme following us from 2020 and expected to shine even brighter in 2021 is security. An effective post-pandemic IT strategy needs to take into account security as a core competency.

2020 witnessed a tremendous rise in cyberattacks during lockdowns, with perpetrators aiming at the weaker and laxer security systems. In a preventive approach, IT departments should pair up with HR departments and work in bringing security awareness trainings.

Organizations will also need to revise their endpoint security controls, however, to bolster perimeter defenses. With large numbers continuing to work remotely, mobile device management (MDM) solutions may be needed to authenticate users, and check that anti-virus, firewalls and software patches are up to date.

MDM can also prove to be very useful for storing information in the correct place, enabling appropriate backups to take place and keeping disaster recovery protocols in check.

Whatever the post-pandemic IT strategy implemented, IT leaders should bear in mind the time they need to roll out new systems or features, how these new roll outs will work in conjunction with other systems, and most importantly flagging any security compromises.

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Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

MedTech

The 5 most purchased Covid-19 vaccine candidates globally

Adnan Kayyali

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most purchased Covid-19 vaccine

Never in history has the world seen such a collective push towards a single goal. Vaccination and immunization of the world’s populations has been every government’s top priority for the past year. Thus, a colossal amount of time, expertise and funding took vaccine research and development into hyperdrive.

With currently 77 vaccines in phase three trials, here are five of the most purchased Covid-19 vaccines that have already been signed up:

Pfizer

Perhaps the most referenced vaccine candidate in the world, Pfizer is the 4th most purchased Covid-19 vaccine out there, with just over 700 million to the EU, US, and UK, and more than 10 other countries globally including South Korea, and Switzerland and New Zealand, Lebanon and Kuwait.

After concluding their third phase of trials, the candidate was found to be 95% effective after the first dose and is considered one of the most trustworthy vaccines on the market despite some media hysteria naturally surrounding it.

Moderna

The smallest of the top 5 giants but by no means the least effective with only just over 400 million doses sold in seven countries and the EU. The Moderna vaccine’s effectiveness sits broadly between 50 percent to 94 percent upon administering the second dose. This is the second highest rate of effectiveness on the market so far. Moderna has an edge over the other vaccines in that it does not need to be kept at extra cold temperatures to be stored, making it much easier to distribute, store, and rollout.

Recent allergic reactions to one batch of vaccines has led to a halt of operation in California until health authorities can figure out what is going on, but this is likely an anomaly.

Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine is currently the number one most purchased Covid-19 vaccine out there, distributing over 2.6 billion doses across the world, mainly in the EU, the U.S, and the COVAX alliance.

Made by the university of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, the vaccine has a 70 percent effectiveness against the virus, but can go up to 90% if administered in the proper dosage, with two doses given 28 days apart.

Sanofi GSK

Despite an initial delay due to an inefficient immune response in older adults, over 530 million doses of the Sanofi GSK vaccine have already been pre-purchased by the EU, UK, US, Canada, and another 200 million doses by the COVAX alliance.

The second phase of trials have been delayed until February, but the company is adamant to do its part in mass vaccination process as “No single pharma company can make it alone; the world needs more than one vaccine to fight the pandemic.” said Thomas Triomphe, EVP and Head of Sanofi Pasteur on the company website.

Novavax

With the second most purchased Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, Novavax, or Novavax NVX-CoV2373 vaccine to be precise, is the dominant vaccine found in India with over 1 billion doses sold to the country alone, and another 300 million sold to Australia, Indonesia, and of course, the US, Canada, and UK.

Most of these vaccines have currently been sold in credit form, meaning the doses are promised to the buyers beforehand. A great logistical and manufacturing effort is being made to make these deliveries happen, and despite missteps and some delays, the mass immunization process continues worldwide.

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MedTech

Game tech company Razor announces cyber-looking smart mask

Adnan Kayyali

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smart mask

Having spent an entire year living with the pandemic and grown accustomed to the safety precautions and routine, people want more than to just wear a mask for safety. Fashion designers and artists have been customizing masks for some time now, catering to those who wish to incorporate safety into their style, but not all of them meet the required safety standards.

Razor has come forth with its own conceptual model of what “the world’s smartest mask” would look and act like but with their own techy twist, in addition to adhering to safety regulations that allow the mask to do its job. Their attempt at a smart mask culminated in one of the most cyber-punk-looking face masks ever to hit the shelves.

The team at Inside Telecom has not tested these masks, as they are still in the creative concept stages, and not an actual product to be tested, and so this information comes straight from Razor.

What’s so smart about it?

Classified as an N95, the mask is fitted with, protects against the tiny droplets that carry the covid-19 water droplets through the air, and also prevents ones breath from escaping as it is equipped with two filters on either side, but that’s just the standard.

No more funny faces under the mask, as the mask has a transparent front that allows for lip reading and facial expression, two important aspects of effective communication between people. It is also equipped with small LED lights within the mask and around the mouth.

As far as communication, the smart mask also comes with a voice amplifier that helps get around the muffling effects, another annoying thing about regular masks.

Does this mean that something has to power it?  Well, this obviously reusable mask comes with a sleek looking box container lined with disinfecting UV lights.

In simple words, the mask can be recharged and used for 24 hours nonstop and can also be disinfected at the same time.

Perhaps we will see more mask concepts emerge as the pandemic goes into the second year, or perhaps customized and fashionable face masks become the newest thing elder parents don’t understand about their children.

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MedTech

How the pandemic changed the Startup playing field

Mounir Jamil

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The pandemic has left its mark on businesses far and wide, however when it comes to the startup industry – things do not go as expected.

With COVID-19 bringing with it several structural transformations that lie ahead for businesses, certain trends become more evident and examinable.

We can see a filtration effect taking place in the startup industry as companies are separated into a category of businesses that have enjoyed expansion and growth during the pandemic.

And another category of companies that are the disrupted and potentially derailed businesses.

Overall, we witnessed the pandemic effect whereby it catalyzes and accelerates the disruptive role of technology across several industries. As this was noted by how fast we saw new ideas come to life.

The following table better illustrates the industries that managed to do well during the pandemic with those that are struggling. Data aggregated from Forbes.

Businesses doing well during pandemic  Businesses struggling during pandemic  
E-commerceLive Events
Media and GamingRestaurants
Video ConferencingOn-premise enterprise IT
Public CloudPhysical Retail
CybersecurityIT Services
Health TechTravel and Hospitality

And, according to SP Global, the five industries least impacted by COVID-19 are:

IndustryMedian PD as of March 1, 2020Median PD as of March 31, 2020
Property, Casualty Insurance0.59%1.06%
Health Care REITs0.55%0.52%
Multi-line Insurance0.59%0.92%
Life & Health Insurance0.62%1.00%
Industrial REITs0.08%0.55%

With all this in mind, we examine two prominent and long term marks the pandemic will be leaving on the startup ecosystem.

Wider Talent Pool

As COVID-19 claimed the lives of thousands of people around the world every day and as many traditional businesses felt the heat of the new reality, many SMEs and large corporations shifted to digital mode.

This opens up so many avenues for HR when it comes to hiring, and talent acquisition.

No longer constraint by location, proximity, nationality, or even time – HR managers literally have the world to choose from when it comes to their next hire, allowing for a stronger and more diversified team

Increased Non-Local Investors

The world is now closer to the tips of our fingers.

This new undeniable fact made it much easier to make solid decisions based on the outputs of our screen.

Furthermore, the increased usage of video conferencing for startup pitches that has paved the way for virtual meetings in 2020, allowing venture capitalists to become more comfortable in making and managing remote investments.

The pandemic brought forward a surge of investments for big tech as Q3 of 2020 went down to be the second consecutive record quarter for big tech investments, according to CB Insights.

What does this mean?

The money is still there, the pace is getting even faster and more people are out to get it.

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