Using Technology to Beat the COVID-19 Pandemic

True strength and resilience withstand the harshest tests. The global pandemic is the kind of crisis that brings out the mettle of businesses, as well as governments.

Previous winners of the IDC Digital Transformation Awards are exhibiting digital resilience by continuing their operations and offering the best customer service they can amid the COVID-19 outbreak by leveraging digital technologies.

“Normal” before this pandemic is changing, and organizations must adapt to the new normal. Digital transformation has become a necessity, rather than a disruptive business strategy. It is helping keep businesses and government agencies afloat while providing urgently-needed services.

The IDC Digital Transformation Awards is a regional program where country-level awards are first presented to organizations in the Asia-Pacific. Now in its fourth year, IDC’s DX Awards honor the achievements of organizations that have successfully digitalized one or multiple areas of their businesses through the application of digital and disruptive technologies. The award categories and selection criteria reflect today’s most critical business transformation areas.

With the world facing the multi-pronged problem of containing a pandemic, several of IDC’s DX Awards winners are stepping up. They are equipped with the same innovativeness and disruptive capacity that won them their accolades. They are using the tools they have developed to help stem the tide of COVID-19’s spread and to uphold digital resilience. These organizations keep their organizations running, and support front-liners, the quarantined, and businesses alike.

Virtual front line to exhibit digital resilience

New Zealand’s Fonterra, originally a dairy product company, has shifted the focus of its production and machinery from milk to producing more high-grade ethanol. This ethanol will then be made available to other companies that produce hand-sanitizers. This is done to meet the surge in demand for them.

China’s Ping An Group has developed a smart-image reading system to help diagnose suspected COVID-19 cases. This has provided services from Feb 19 to 29 for more than 1,500 medical institutions. It has generated analysis results in only 15 seconds, with an accuracy rate above 90%. Furthermore, it establishes a prognosis of patients so doctors can diagnose, triage, and evaluate COVID-19 patients quickly and efficiently.

Also in China, WeDoctor stepped up its platform by offering free bilingual services as part of its global online consulting assistance. This IDC Digital Disruptor awardee brought together medical professionals from China’s top hospitals so they can address health concerns in real-time with other users worldwide. The service reached over 149 countries and regions as of March 25, including Italy, Japan, and the US.

In Hong Kong, the largest online services marketplace for SMEs and freelancers, HelloToby, now offers on-demand medical-grade sterilization services. An IDC Digital Disruptor awardee, it ensures that the products have approval from the FDA and EPA. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists this as an AI-level epidemic prevention measure. It has passed the European Union (EU) sterilization test and conforms to the European Union EN14476 standard.

Hong Kong’s First Shanghai Group, which won the IDC DX Leader accolade last year, showcases digital resilience by offering online medical appointments via its healthcare system, International Medical Center (IMC) to minimize the need to physically visit the facility. It also improves the flow of medical services to its patients.

Collaborations to Combat COVID-19

Grab Indonesia, together with the Health Ministry and Good Doctor Technology, rolled out plans to provide special services. Their platform enables users to check their risk status by answering questions through the Grab app submenu called GrabHealth, which is also connected with doctors who can give their recommendations at any time of the day.

Indonesia’s GoJek, in partnership with Halodoc, GoJek launched a telemedicine service called “Check COVID-19”, which disseminates information and education for the prevention of the disease. This service provides online consultation services that help the government track patients who are in the high-risk groups. Over 20,000 licensed and experienced doctors in the Halodoc ecosystem supports Check COVID-19. It is also available as a shuffle card in the Gojek application.

VUNO, an AI medical software developer that bagged the IDC Digital Disruptor award in Korea in 2018, offers free AI solutions for reading lung images to aid medical practitioners make faster and more accurate diagnoses.

'Contact-free' food and business

In Australia, Domino’s Pizza was 2019’s Omni-Experience Innovator winner. Domino’s leverages its app by being one of the first to offer zero-contact deliveries to reduce human interaction: Domino’s “delivery experts” will place their customers’ orders in front of their doors before informing these clients of their arrival, then they will stand back to ensure the orders are collected – a prime example of digital resilience. This service comes at no extra cost. While the company prefers online payment using credit cards or PayPal, it will still accept cash payments.

In the Philippines, IDC Digital Disruptor awardee Angkas is leveraging its app with the feature Angkas FOOD, mobilizing its motorcycle fleet as an overnight food delivery business. This ensures work for Angkas riders during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, and food delivery for its clientele. The company is not charging any fees from its riders or customers.

Grab Malaysia is helping ease difficulties faced by consumers and small businesses with two new options on their platform: Tapau, a cashless food pick-up option, and; Pasar, for delivering local markets’ fresh produce, poultry, meat, and seafood to households. Strait Times quoted Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh in its March 23 edition. “Today, we launch a waitless, cashless (just pay with GrabPay via the app) and contactless ‘self-pickup’ option,” he said. He outlined a two-pronged goal for this initiative. First, to assist restaurants generate more income. Second, to help customers save time and avoid crowds.

Safeguarding employee welfare

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) has leveraged cloud computing to ensure the productivity and safety of MAVCOM employees who are working at home. MAVCOM ICT head Saiful Bakhitiar Osman developed an active framework for uninterrupted business during the country’s lockdown. It consists of giving their staff full support to take calls via voice over internet protocol (VoIP) from anywhere. Additionally, MAVCOM is working to ensure the strength of their cloud infrastructures. Three channels for complaints about airlines and airport services receive customer feedback. These are the consumer hotline number, FlySmart mobile apps, and Mavcom’s corporate website and FlySmart consumer microsite. Built on the SalesForce cloud platform, the FlySmart complaint management system (CMS) links these three channels. Industry players, meanwhile have a robust AeroFile system for handling the flight landing application. This also runs on the SalesForce cloud platform.

New Zealand’s Auckland Transport has banned cash as a payment option and instead promotes its ATHOP card by giving it away for free to those who still try to pay in cash. These electronic smart cards are prepaid cards loaded with money and are used to pay by tapping on a platform. Now they’re deployed to minimize physical contact between customers and Auckland Transport staff and bus drivers.

Maintaining cash flow and power

GE Digital, the winner of IDC’s Digital Transformer award in India in 2017, provides free assistance, such as remote monitoring services for its industrial customers. It is offering free Remote Monitoring and Control licenses to its iFIX and CIMPLICITY customers, empowering their staff to work remotely while keeping power plants running, even as the pandemic makes remote work necessary.

Singapore’s SP Group leveraged social media, using its Facebook page to provide customer care and support for its customers. The SP Group is one of Singapore’s largest corporations with revenues reaching S$3.9 billion in FY17/18. SP owns and operates electricity and gas transmission and distribution businesses in Singapore and Australia. It also owns and operates the world’s largest underground district cooling network in Singapore.

India’s Federal bank Ltd., which won the IDC Talent Accelerator honors in India last year, encourages home quarantine among its clients and displays digital resilience by providing a comprehensive range of banking services over their digital platforms. Federal Bank depositors can transfer funds, reload prepaid mobile phones, and make utility bill payments. Additionally, they can avail of loans once they register on the bank’s mobile banking platforms.

The UnionBank of the Philippines brought their banking services to the people in quarantine by rolling out the country’s first-ever “Bank on Wheels,” a 5G-powered banking kiosk in a mobile van.

Employing digital resilience to continue government services

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority launched a revolutionary initiative called Space Out—a website that allows users to check out how crowded shopping malls are online to help users plan when to buy their essentials, instead of wasting time by waiting in lines and crowds at 50 of the city state’s shopping malls. This government agency won the 2017 IDC Information Visionary Award.

In Taiwan, the Taipei City Government launched a website to efficiently distribute surgical face masks that makes use of a real-name-based rationing system where people can order face masks using their National Health Insurance or ARC Card.

Thailand’s National Food Institute offers online learning resources via Facebook on topics such as food safety to prevent COVID-19. This agency won the IDC Operating Model Master award in Thailand last year.

Indeed, these stories have highlighted the need for technologies in order to operate remotely and efficiently. Technologies keep businesses running, and protect the welfare of employees. We have yet to discover the long-term business and societal implications of COVID-19. Hence, there is now a heightened need to embed digital resilience in one’s organization. Or else, risk losing customers, market shares, and potentially lives in the process.

Similar inspiring stories of digital transformation can be found here. Interested in joining this year’s IDC Digital Transformation Awards? Nominate your organization now.