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And the world shut down.

As long as I can still order things on Amazon…

and Amazon’s stock continued to go up

In our globalized world, with complex supply chains, as the world shut down, and the street corner hardware stores, restaurants, coffee shops, all pulled their blinds down, the only place we had left to order our non-essentials (and often essentials) was Amazon. Because you can find anything on Amazon.

Amazon and Amazon Market Place, a site where everyone could sell anything suddenly has become the key provider in a world where everything else seems to have come to a halt. The problem of course is when this also comes to a halt, or at a minimum, slows down. And it has - Prime deliveries taking longer, non-essential goods are being deprioritized.

The effects of Globalization

It’s now clear to many that Globalization does have its drawbacks. Outsourcing certain types of supplies such as medical equipment to other countries, and relying now on the good faith of not only your suppliers, but of other countries not intervening to bid higher for things you’ve ordered, has a cost - that of human lives. Of course, you can’t blame any single country. Each one is looking out for their own people. But ultimately this is one of the many costs of Globalization. The other ones, such as low income wages, horrendous working conditions, have been rather foreign to many of us in the Western world because they haven’t really impacted our lives.

But Globalization is also present online. Except in this case we don’t call it Globalization, we call it Big Tech. Our reliance on a few large companies has become so critical that not only has it hindered competition, but it can also stop the livelihood of many businesses at a time when they’ve had to close their doors and their own potential source of income is online activity.

Don’t compete with Big Tech

In the IT industry it’s common knowledge that you try not to compete with “Big tech”. Any idea you have, make sure you’re not going to compete with the big ones, cause they have infinite money, more resources, better infrastructure, and if push comes to shove, pretty sure they can offer whatever it is for free, or cheaper than you can.

Of course this not only hinders competition, but also innovation. The reality is that this is not limited to IT. Many types of businesses are affected by a few big players. They either decide to not compete or rely on their platforms when it comes to providing any value-added service.

You have a candle store and also sell online? Why set up everything yourself? Rely on Big Tech to take care of it for you. It’s much cheaper and more effective. And as a bonus, you don’t even have to worry about how to price things. They’ll make sure you never price it more than they want you to.

Now of course, these are exceptional times, and even if we were to diversify, it wouldn’t guarantee that things would be significantly better. But at the same time, we all know that all eggs in a single basket (or should I say cart) isn’t a great strategy.

Lessons we’ll learn

It’s going to get worse before it gets better

A phrase repeated so often nowadays. A sentence that plays tricks on your mind, to prepare you for bad times, but then give you a glimmer of hope. This is not the first pandemic, nor is it certainly the last. And of course we will recover from this and things will get better. The question though is what lessons will we learn.

  • Will our leaders understand that we need to invest more in public health care?
  • Will they reconsider outsourcing critical products and services?
  • Will they invest more in research and vaccines to be better prepared for the next one?
  • Will business owners start to look for alternative ways to market their products, that isn’t only with the walk-in customer?

And us, in the IT industry, the ones that can help others take advantage of technology, what will we learn?

It is not the inaction that we’ve taken or the mistakes that we’ve made that we should be focusing on when this is over, but the lessons that we can learn from them moving forward.