While COVID-19 has largely dominated the public awareness and created huge shifts and interruptions to businesses of all sizes, small businesses have clearly been impacted the most--essential and non-essential businesses alike. Of course, this doesn’t mean that large enterprises and corporations aren’t also affected. The difference is, these enterprises and corporations are sometimes better equipped to do something about it… which many have.
We wanted to take a moment and look at what two corporations with particularly large impacts on the IT industry, Google and Microsoft, have done in response to the current pandemic.
Google has taken a very active stance, as far as coronavirus awareness and education are concerned. There is currently a collection on their blog that outlines their ongoing response to the health crisis. Included are an announcement of Google’s tools for students and teachers to continue their work, tips for improved video calls and remote collaboration, as well as a list of resources available to small businesses.
Besides these blog posts, Google has also been actively promoting public awareness in their Search results. Any coronavirus-related searches now pull up an SOS Alert, which generates a sidebar next to your results that provides a rundown of the current situation--in this case, an overview of the coronavirus disease, along with symptoms, prevention, treatments, and assorted statistics. Along with this, the current top news stories are committed to coronavirus-related topics, there’s a worldwide graph of cases and more resources on the other side of your results. Your results are littered with relevant tweets, video suggestions, resources for more health information, and news updates.
Google has also curated a YouTube playlist, called WFH Essentials, that shows a few tips and tricks to enable productive and focused work from an environment that doesn’t necessarily promote it. Keep in mind that many of these tips aren’t necessarily applicable to the current coronavirus situation, as it is not recommended to socialize publicly at this time. YouTube has also made some adjustments to how YouTube dishes out money to creators, attempting to slow down unhelpful coronavirus content and prevent the spread of misinformation.
On the financial side of things, Google has committed over $800 million to SMBs, governments, health organizations, and the healthcare workers who are out and in the thick of things. This $800 million includes commitments to research efforts and the production of personal protective equipment, as well as $340 million dollars’ worth of Google Ad credits available to small businesses who have had an active account for the past year. If you have had an active account since the start of 2019, make sure to keep an eye out for a notification to your account.
Microsoft has also put measures in place to spread COVID-19 awareness, incorporating an interactive map into Bing that shares the dispersal of the virus worldwide, and in a more regionalized context for individual countries. This map utilizes information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as well as Wikipedia. Microsoft has also partnered with the CDC to create a Coronavirus Self-Checker tool to help people evaluate their needs to be tested. This AI-powered tool allows a user to establish if they do indeed have a medical concern, and suggestions on their next steps (but no concrete medical advice). This tool assists in keeping emergency services--already taxed to their maximum capacity--from receiving so many patients whose needs aren’t severe enough for hospitalization.
It can be too easy to see companies of such scale as monoliths, untouchable by concerns that influence smaller businesses so easily. COVID-19 has shown that these businesses aren’t untouchable, but fortunately, are willing to step up and make the investments we need today.
How has your business responded in the face of this health crisis? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and for the IT solutions needed to continue your own operations safely, reach out to the team at MERIT Solutions.