Post #85: The new normal

Have you just been on a Zoom call prior to reading this piece? Or maybe you’ve been in touch with one of your colleagues via Teams? Perhaps you’ve been peckish and just ordered some food online? Alternatively, maybe you’re having some down-time and you’ve just posted on Instagram? All these activities are almost too mundane to merit mention, but this fascinating chart we came across earlier in the week shows the extent to which we are becoming (or have become) digital by default.

You would be far from in a minority had you done any of the above: every minute, Zoom hosts 208,333 participants in meetings, Microsoft Teams connects 52,083 users, 555 meals are ordered on Doordash and 347,222 users post stories on Instagram. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that when one compares what happens in an Internet currently, the picture is very different to that of 2019

As we have discussed with some regularity, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do things. We believe the habits formed during this unique period will be very hard to reverse. Put another way, we have crossed the digital Rubicon. This is why over 6,000 Amazon packages are shipped every minute or almost 1.4m video/voice calls occur every 60 seconds – simply because it’s the new normal. Why shop or go to the office if you can do it from the comfort of your own home?

We heard a similar message from Dan Schulman, the Chief Executive of PayPal, when we listened to him speak at a conference earlier this week. He noted that as a result of these unprecedented times, digital adoption had accelerated by “at least three to five years.” Interestingly the aforementioned chart of our digital lives shows that Venmo (a mobile payment service for money transfers, owned by PayPal) sees ~$240,000 sent via its network every minute. When asked whether people’s behaviour might change once government restrictions on their activities were withdrawn, Mr Schulman was emphatic in stating that “I don’t think there is any going back from this.” 


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