The unprecedented impact from the coronavirus pandemic has and will create a new normal for all of us. It has made an indelible imprint on us now and in the future, whether the pandemic has directly impacted someone’s family or job, turned parents into teachers overnight, or just simplified the pace of our lives. While it has slowed parts of our lives down, it is also propelling us even faster to a more digital future in some interesting ways.
The PC shows staying power
As smart phones and tablets proliferated in recent years, many proclaimed the PC an aging dinosaur doomed for extinction. Instead, we saw a huge spike in demand for systems in this year’s first quarter as multi-PC homes suddenly became more necessary. The NPD Group recently released data showing U.S. PC sales in the first quarter increased 16% to $2.4 billion compared to the same period a year ago. While tablets and phones are very convenient and great on the go, the PC provides the muscle and full set of features many people need to be productive. At AMD, where I work, we develop high-performance chips that go into powerful, modern PCs.
Education goes online
The pandemic is forcing us to rethink education – both in the short- and long-term–to ensure we protect the health and safety of our communities while enabling consistent online education. Unfortunately, given the great disparities across the globe, not all children have a reliable device or internet connection to support online learning. Here at AMD we have seen strong global demand indicators in the education market, signaling the importance of the PC as a tool for families and school districts. Support for ongoing online learning is going to be crucial, even as some students may return to classroom learning in the fall. And connecting the roughly 30% of American children who do not have adequate connectivity to learn from home becomes ever more urgent.
There’s always time to play
It’s critical that we take mental breaks and recharge so that we can be productive family members and employees. For many people, that means gaming. Regardless of how you choose to game, we are doing more of it now. Many are excited about the next generation Microsoft XBOX Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 consoles coming for holiday 2020, which will include incredible effects like ray tracing, based on state-of-the-art processors (made by AMD). Cloud gaming subscriptions, like Google Stadia, and sales for nearly all platforms jumped in the last few months. Worldwide digital game spending totaled a record-breaking $10.5 billion in April 2020, according to Nielsen’s SuperData. With “real-life” sports cancelled due to the pandemic, eSports became a great way for teams and leagues to engage with fans.
Staying safe and protecting your information
In addition to protecting our physical and mental well-being, employees working from home must also be vigilant in protecting confidential company data and intellectual property, while balancing the need for collaboration and sharing. Managing a large swath of remote employees’ systems can seem like a daunting task for an IT organization used to handling everything on-site. But the processors inside the latest PCs have enhanced security features, so customers can have greater confidence in the security of their data, even if their notebook gets lost or stolen.
Up-leveling tech skills
The pandemic propelled many of us to new unfamiliar platforms and devices to get work done and stay in touch with our loved ones. While my young adult daughters grew up in the smartphone era, even they are realizing the importance of having dedicated notebooks for both personal use and work to truly be effective while at home.
While this change was easy to embrace for my daughters, those of us more set in our ways will need to adjust. As the world around us changes and evolves, we must also look to learn and adapt. That means getting comfortable using online applications and saving content in the cloud, turning on our video during a conference call or setting up a virtual happy hour. We all need to keep our tech skills fresh as we prepare for future challenges.
None of these are new – but the pandemic and subsequent global lockdowns have accelerated the change in rapid fashion, and it is likely to continue. That means having a solid tech plan. What are the critical devices and equipment you and your family will need?
We must do this at home but also in our businesses, so that we can be even more successful in the future. Businesses with knowledge workers need to ensure that their workforce has the equipment, training and access to quickly shift to remote work. As well, I expect changes will need to be made to the global supply chain and production strategy for many companies.
With a little foresight and planning, we can embrace the new digital normal in our lives and remember that these challenges are what create incredible opportunities to grow, learn and adapt.
Rick Bergman is AMD executive vice president of Computing and Graphics with responsibility for the company’s high-performance PC, gaming and semi-custom businesses.