Tech companies are cancelling conferences, dissuading employees from business travel, and instead asking them to use videoconferencing and chat tools as new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in India.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, experts feel there would be severe global implications. “With China being much more deeply integrated with the world economy today… compared to the 2003 SARS outbreak, the impact of the virus [coronavirus] outbreak is expected to be much more pronounced,” said Neha Anna Thomas, senior economist, Frost & Sullivan.
The signs of this are already visible across industries and the technology sector is no exception. Annual conferences and seminars of global technology companies are being cancelled, and employees are being instructed to work from home and avoid business travel over coronavirus fears.
Bengaluru-headquartered Wipro Limited has suspended travel to and transit through mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau, until further notice. Employees have also been advised to avoid non-critical travel to Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy.
Wipro said any employee who has travelled to an affected area within China in the last few days has been asked to work from home for 14 days before returning to the office. “We do not have employees in Wuhan province. We have enabled a significant number of employees based in China to work from home. We have taken all necessary measures at our offices there, including thermal screening, surgical masks, and frequent sanitisation of premises. We have formed cross-functional local and central teams to closely monitor and assess the evolving situation and decide the course of action,” the company told Fortune India.
Meanwhile India’s largest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), is working closely with regional and global health institutions to monitor the situation. “Specifically in Italy, as a precautionary measure, we have implemented work from home and travel restrictions. This has also been put in place across some countries in Asia Pacific, and is being monitored and modified based on the situation in each location,” said a TCS spokesperson.
Microsoft pointed out that for many individuals and organisations, the company’s videoconferencing and chat tools are playing an important role in helping people continue to work and collaborate. The global technology major said that the services are available to all for free for six months to make remote work easier.
Global tech companies with higher exposure to China are alerting investors that sales are declining following the coronavirus outbreak. Recently, tech giant Apple warned that the worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained. “We are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter,” the Cupertino-based iPhone maker said in a statement dated February.
Last month Microsoft also issued a financial warning saying sales in the current quarter would be lower than it had earlier predicted citing the impact of coronavirus. Similarly, California-based tech firm Nvidia Corp. cut its quarterly sales outlook by $100 million because of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
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