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Internet Services During COVID-19

Introduction

COVID-19 is one of the commonly discussed themes in today’s society. Its impact on social, economic, and business aspects remains crucial because millions of people have to adjust to living conditions, apply new strategies, and follow recent changes in health care and commerce. At this moment, about six million coronavirus cases have been officially declared, with about 370,000 deaths (COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, 2020). To prevent the growth of the virus, people should follow general recommendations like cleaning hands, following a safe distance, and maintaining self-isolation (Nicola et al., 2020). As soon as the regulations to promote social isolation and distance are implemented around the globe, requirements and behavioral changes play an important role. Digital payments, distant learning, remote work, online shopping, and robot deliveries are used to build a resilient society and control the spread of the coronavirus (Xiao and Fan, 2020). There are many positive and negative aspects of Internet services, as well as online and offline products and ideas. In this report, the outcomes of the COVID-19 situation on technological development, privacy, and security challenges, and modern applications will be discussed to understand the importance of technology.

COVID-19 Situation

The global pandemic associated with the growth of the coronavirus threat is characterized by multiple modifications in different spheres. On the one hand, telehealth and digital tools are applied to offer appropriate care and recommendations (Torous et al., 2020). People want to know more about how many individuals have already recovered, what technologies and treatment plans were used, and why a socially isolated style of life cannot be ignored when positive achievements are observed. The healthcare industry undergoes numerous changes to protect the health of frontline staff and control protective equipment costs. On the other hand, the development of digital tools and platforms to support communication, exchange information and remediate the coronavirus outbreak are promoted via technological advances (Ting et al., 2020). Telecommunication networks, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the terms that are frequently mentioned in everyday business discussions because they help to arrange meetings, share material, and offer products online. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and its positive and negative outcomes are intertwined, underlying the possibility to improve the climate or reduce gas usage or the necessity to stay at home and lose jobs.

Positive and Negative Aspects of Services Online and Offline

The development of relationships between customers and firms is predetermined by a variety of factors. Whether offered online or offline, the quality of services cannot be ignored. However, the COVID-19 situation sets its specific rules and standards, and the ways of how services and products are introduced to people influence their decisions to buy or not to buy. There are three main categories according to which the comparison of negative and positive aspects of online and offline activities should be compared: brand, customer loyalty, and service quality.

Brand

One of the reasons for people to choose a service or a product is its brand image. According to Wu and Chien (2019), the awareness of a brand plays a crucial role because people are eager to buy something when they are familiar with it and can develop positive associations. Recent studies show that mobile online shopping is promoted by the desire of a person to know more about an issue and its brand before a final decision is made (Michael, n.d.). It is easy to surf the web at home, meeting personal needs and timeframes. There is no need to leave homes, think about a general look, and spend money on transportation. Everything that is needed is at hand, and online shopping turns out to be a real adventure for customers. Therefore, the main advantage of online services is the possibility to check information about the brand. Products that are sold offline also have brands, and an ordinary customer can ask a manager about their history, popularity, and quality. However, offline retailers aim at selling goods and services, and their information can be biased and overestimated.

Customer Loyalty

Despite the interests of people, brand information, and product access, modern retail depends on such factors as customer satisfaction and loyalty. There are usually high guarantees that a satisfied client will return and repeat purchase or recommend the same services to other people (Hult et al., 2018). In offline stores, managers use their communication skills, demonstrate and offer options, and support clients using visual contact or physical actions (giving a hand, showing the way, and assisting in a dressing room). These are the main benefits of offline services, and if a person cannot find the necessary product, it is possible to convince paying attention to another thing. Comparing online services, the same results are hardly noticeable because, in this case, much depends on how well customers surf the web and sites. A sensory experience at physical stores and the convenience of online services have enough supporters and opponents on both sides (Hult et al., 2018). It is easy for online stores to lose clients because of the impossibility to control their behaviors and the existence of similar services that are equally available via mobile phones or personal computers.

Service Quality

Contrasting online and offline services during the COVID-19 situation, one should admit the significance of service quality that is offered to clients. About 73% of consumers admit that waiting in long lines is probably the worst thing in shopping at physical stores (Michael, n.d.). In addition, the necessity to find a parking place and the absence of required products (when some time has already been spent on transportation to the final destination point) frustrate people. Offline purchases could also challenge companies because of poor customer services and the lack of professional managers. For example, many American companies lose about $41 billion because of customers’ complaints and the identification of bad services (Michael, n.d.). Focusing on this point of view, the quality of services does not suffer because of the incompetent staff or a wrongly chosen word. Online purchases are organized and managed by customers, and the task of a company is to make sure enough information is offered and easily accessed.

Online and Offline Battle

As the investigation shows, online and offline services and products have several advantages and disadvantages for modern customers. However, regarding the conditions defined by the coronavirus pandemic, online shopping is the only safe opportunity for people to buy goods, stay in brand, and follow personal interests and preferences. Many people believe that imposed obligations and social isolation will prove that current attention to technologies and online services could influence this competition and support online shopping in many ways. The disadvantages of online products will be investigated, and new helpful platforms will be elaborated to meet the current demands of society (Ting et al., 2020). At the same time, as soon as the COVID-19 situation is solved, there are hopes that people miss real communication and would be eager to visit the nearest shop and make a purchase.

Challenges and Measures of Security

Online life fascinates millions of people, as well as creates multiple challenges and measures. When the decision to go online is made, security and privacy issues have to be identified and discussed. On the one hand, customers and ordinary users put themselves under threat of being attacked and exposed publically. Even when social media networks are used to share information, such challenges as isolated attacks are hard to control. Kayes and Iamnitchi (2017) discuss the possibility of attacks from other users, social applications, and media channels to distribute their information, advertise products and services, or steal personal data for blackmail. In the majority of cases, people do not take many precautionary steps, believing that having a personal computer, smartphone, or another device can predict security risks. Still, the COVID-19 situation provokes new waves of using online services more frequently, which results in hacker activities’ increase. Cyber security practices are recommended either for personal use or business development, and five main challenges exist to measure privacy and protect users and organizations.

One of the potential threats to cyber security is people. Despite the intention to protect the business environment or personal devices using antivirus software, it is impossible to predict all problems. There is a tendency to click on links or download documents automatically, neglecting malware and scam programs. As a result, a company loses money, liabilities are hard to distribute, and the damage is impossible to neglect (5 of the biggest cyber security risks for business, 2018). Because of the impossibility to communicate personally due to COVID-19 isolation, it does not take much time for a person to find an interesting site and use its services, without checking its guarantees and reputation.

To measure security, many companies and individuals believe that strong passwords and patch management can be effective. On the one hand, the practice of information non-disclosure and the change of passwords at least once per two months ensure account safety and effective IT policies (5 of the biggest cyber security risks for business, 2018). On the other hand, if there is no control and reminders, it is a challenge for a person to remember the necessity to check and change personal login information. If the business is based on online activities, the process of patch management helps to acquire and install applications and changes if necessary. In business organizations, there are special devices that look for available patches and decide if additional improvements are critical at the moment (5 of the biggest cyber security risks for business, 2018). Individuals usually rely on automatic assessment tools that are installed within their computer systems and believe that such steps are enough to stay secure and measure their privacy. In companies, IT managers are responsible for updating the systems and discovering vulnerable areas.

External threats like cooperation with third parties and the use of personal devices at different places challenge online life, either during a pandemic or at any other period. Today, many companies have already chosen the BYOD (Bring Your Device) concept for their activities. It allowed employees to bring personal computers to work in the office and take them home (to have direct and regular access to all information (5 of the biggest cyber security risks for business, 2018). Still, the risks are evident, including the impossibility of following the same levels of security and implementing virtual private networks (VPN) to hide locations or reduce access to personal information.

Regarding the impact of coronavirus and the spread of technologies and online services, additional recommendations and guides are created on how to measure security and protect digital privacy. Although such radical measures as Zuckerberg using tape on his webcam, the ideas to have several personal computers, clean systems regularly, and surf the web incognito should be taken for granted (Graham-Smith, 2016). Today, it is possible for users to check their online footprint and understand what personal or professional data remains available and influences future search and online activities. Some people find it normal not to take care of this information because they have nothing to hide. However, it is hard to predict what hackers or other IS experts could do to this accessibility. Therefore, when people go online for business or educational purposes, shopping, or surfing, privacy and security cannot be guaranteed until certain measures, programs, and applications are used and installed.

Tools Analysis

Due to the spread of COVID-19, many companies find it necessary to offer their services and products online. They organize meetings, exchange documents, and establish contacts distantly to make sure that products are distributed, ideas are shared, and business is developed. Some many tools and applications are aimed at facilitating online activities and strengthening the services and skills of people in communication, management, and critical thinking. In this report, the comparison of two tools, GoToMeeting and Team Viewer, will be developed to get a better idea of how to use technologies at the current COVID-19 dependent time. The analysis of the tools will be based on the consideration of their purposes, main technological aspects, customers, and prices.

Both GoToMeeting and TeamViewer are considered conferencing tools with the help of which online meetings are planned and organized. GoToMeeting was created by an American company LogMeIn more than 15 years ago. The second tool has almost the same date of publication, just a year later, and its developer was from Germany. The owners of iPods, iPhones, PCs, and Android devices could join a conference via GoToMeeting and invite up to 250 participants (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). In the case of TeamViewer, the exact number remains unknown, but it is said that about 25 participants could visit the same meeting with this device. However, this aspect of comparison remains vague due to several reasons. For example, some people want to choose a tool due to its size and the possibility of inviting as many people as possible. Still, for some organizations, the quality of communication and suitability play a crucial role.

Even though both tools have free trials, the decision of users depends on the final price: about $12 per month for GoToMeeting and about $49 per month for TeamViewer. Such price difference may be explained by the presence and absence of some features. Both of them have unique application programming interfaces in terms of which interactions between several software programs are possible. Still, access control and contact management are present in TeamViewer only (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). Such options as chats, calendars, automated scheduling, and mobile integration are the characteristics of both applications. Still, the strength of TeamViewer lies in the possibility to transfer files, instant messages, and create whiteboards, and the users of GoToMeeting do not have similar options because of the goals of online meetings. Talking about GoToMeeting’s benefits, one should mention the video call recording function and two-way (audio and video) recording.

Comparing and contrasting the features of GoToMeeting and TeamViewer, it is also possible to address the opinions of ordinary users who share their practical experience and discuss their pros and cons. Many people find GoToMeeting suitable for their business purposes because of the On-Demand meeting feature that allows giving custom-URL and viewing the screen any time it is required (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). TeamViewer, in its tune, includes a built-in file sharing function that is easy and safe in usage (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). Such benefits as reliability and integration have to be underlined in both programs. Their automation platforms are effective for overcoming technical problems and saving time for organizing remote sessions (either regularly or once a year). Talking about the installation process, both options are characterized by some simple steps. It means that even poorly aware users will find it easy to download the program, read its manual, and join an online conference within a short period.

As well as any online tool, GoToMeeting and TeamViewer have certain disadvantages, which makes their developers think about possible improvements and further implementations. For example, some users of TeamViewer admit that the incompatibility of different versions causes negative feedback (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). To find a solution, participants have to discuss options and identify the only appropriate for their devices version before their meeting. GoToMeeting shortages include difficulties in finding the client to download the program (instead of using personal computers and the already chosen programs, it is expected to work in the web interface) (GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer, n.d.). In total, TeamViewer has high ratings among users at the moment. However, the fact that GoToMeeting does not reach the same standards should not be used as the only disadvantage in order not to use this program. Both tools are helpful for business development during the COVID-19 crisis, and personal preferences or technological aspects have to be properly weighed before a final choice is made.

Conclusion

In general, technological progress during the coronavirus period is frequently discussed and investigated from a variety of perspectives. Although millions of people have to stay at home, they cannot neglect their jobs and social responsibilities. In addition, many citizens want to continue their shopping habits and have access to products and services. Therefore, online activities turn out to be the only safe and available solution. There are many threats and benefits of using online services. On the one hand, people can save their time, search for the required product, and observe the opinions of people worldwide. On the other hand, security and privacy issues exist and make users think about how to protect their personal information. The use of such programs as GoToMeeting or TeamViewer helps business companies to continue their work processes. However, any innovation has to be properly investigated to predict its harms and understand its benefits.

Reference List

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COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic (2020). Web.

GoToMeeting vs TeamViewer (n.d.).

Graham-Smith, D. (2016) ‘Extreme online security measures to protect your digital privacy – a guide’, The Guardian.

Hult, G. T. M. et al. (2018) ‘Antecedents and consequences of customer satisfaction: do they differ across online and offline purchases?’ Journal of Retailing, 95(1), pp. 10-23.

Kayes, I., and Iamnitchi, A. (2017) ‘A survey on privacy and security in online social networks’, Online Social Networks and Media, 3, 1-21.

Michael (n.d.) How is customer service different or the same for traditional retail and online retail

Nicola, M. et al. (2020) ‘The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic: a review’, International Journal of Surgery.

Ting, D.S.W. et al. (2020) ‘Digital technology and COVID-19’, Nature Medicine, 26(4), pp. 459-461.

Torous, J. et al. (2020) ‘Digital mental health and COVID-19: using technology today to accelerate the curve on access and quality tomorrow’, JMIR Mental Health, 7(3).

Wu, J. J. and Chien, S. H. (2019) ‘Impulsive purchase, approach – avoidance effect, emotional account influence in online-to-offline services’ Journal of Advances in Information Technology, 10(2), pp. 35-40.

Xiao, Y. and Fan, Z. (2020) ‘10 technology trends to watch in the COVID-19 pandemic’, World Economic Forum.

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