How COVID Has Impacted the Data Economy and What’s to Come

In 2020, the world almost stopped. Everything was closed or had to be put on hold. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered shutdowns in early 2020, and more than a year later, the world is still struggling. Families are still suffering as loved ones fall ill with the virus, companies are engaging with remote employees, and some individuals and industries simply haven’t been able to resume normal operations yet.

The economics of data is no different. It has also been affected by COVID-19. But how?

The data economy drives better decision making

the the data economy is monetization and data distribution. Data collection is the way that people and companies can study statistics and information, which in turn helps other people and companies make the best decisions, such as what business action to take next in a complex market .

TO Global Study 2020 found that 77% of companies located in the United States practiced data-driven decision making. As a result, it is no longer appropriate to rely on instinct and experience when making decisions that could drastically affect profits, reputation, and other critical factors.

For example, research could reveal that three-quarters of millennials in a specific country are interested in reducing the amount of meat they eat. A multinational fast food brand could use that information as justification to present a plant-based burger to consumers there. If another dataset says that a particular company might do well venturing into a specific new territory, that’s the data economy at work.

This increased reliance on reliable information increased the perceived value of information that could unlock previously hidden knowledge. Therefore, data brokers and data markets exist to collect, organize and extract data and then sell it to the party that would benefit the most from the insider insights.

Altered and Accelerated Data Collection and Use of COVID-19

COVID-19 changed a lot about data collection. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people relied heavily on data, statistics, and charts on case numbers to keep up with what the pandemic was doing.

But some aspects of data collection have been interfered with due to the new regular associated with the virus. For example, we were not allowed to go anywhere except to work and the supermarket for months. Similarly, you could not visit relatives or hospitals.

Some countries also used aggregated and anonymized location data to determine how strictly residents of particular areas were following the rules about leaving home for essential reasons only during closings.

Remote Work Altered Data Collection Strategies

The global health crisis dramatically changed work arrangements, especially as many leaders decided that staying home was the safest option for employees when possible. As a result, a Stanford University researcher found that 42% of the US workforce I was working from home in September 2020.

The increase in people checking in at home rather than commuting to offices reduced the time workplace leaders had in front of employees. That reality changed the type of data employers collected from their teams.

Executives were already gathering information to improve company production, address bottlenecks, and improve employee experiences. However, many also began collecting productivity data on individual workers, and especially those off-site.

That trend could result in new legislation stipulating how and when employers can monitor the activities of remote workers. For example, the Polish Labor Code specifies that they can monitor the use of work-related email, as well as worker interactions with relevant platforms and software.

The pandemic required flexibility and openness

When people work from home, it can sometimes be difficult to stay focused. There are so many things that could distract you. This is why scores from a productivity tracker aren’t always the best way to measure someone’s performance. For example, if a supervisor sees a worker’s daily levels drop, decreasing the metric alone doesn’t necessarily cause immediate concern.

However, it is an excellent opportunity for one-on-one interaction. For example, a quick chat with the low-scoring worker could reveal that a close relative was recently hospitalized, making it difficult to keep his mind focused on his tasks.

Additionally, some jobs may face obstacles in moving to a home environment rather than the typical office environment. For example, an employer may have to invest in new systems and configurations to function as efficiently as before.

They can also collect worker survey data to determine which tools would help remote employees the most and which barriers frequently prevent them from meeting deadlines and expectations. But there have also been many opportunities.

For employers and business owners, the COVID-19 pandemic affected data collection and incorporated additional data collection into other areas of work.

The data economy must protect privacy

people surrounding the phone with masks

Some consumers are wary of data collection and how it is consumed. For example, a 2019 Pew Research Center study revealed that 81% of American adults they felt they had little or no control over the data companies collected from them.

Another 79% said they were somewhat or very concerned about how companies collect and use their information. Earning and maintaining customer trust requires companies to commit to the ethical handling of people’s details.

Barter as a beneficial possibility

According to Harvard Business Review, the barter concept it is one of the best ways to achieve this, as it helps create a better system to protect consumers. So while money drives the economy, other transactional systems can benefit us.

You may not even realize that you are bartering every day. Do you use email or social networks from Apple or Google, such as Facebook or Instagram? You are exchanging your consumer data for the online services provided by these companies. So bartering is already a regular part of their daily life.

Balancing privacy and public health

A few months after the pandemic, smartphones introduced a feature that you could activate that could alert you if you had been exposed to COVID. Tracking features on smartphones are nothing new, but they became capable of alerting users if there was a possibility that they were exposed to the virus. This required a data economy in the form of cooperation between users, public health oversight offices, and technology companies.

Some may find this helpful, but some feel it infringes on their privacy. That is why users can choose to participate at will or not use it at all. However, the more this feature is used, the more valuable it is to everyone as it collects more data and can draw more accurate conclusions.

Taiwan was able to contain and manage the coronavirus outbreak without the lockdowns other countries were going through. So how did they do this? There were a few steps that followed, and one was using these smartphone features to track down the virus.

Smartphones were able to monitor those who were most at risk of spreading the virus. Within the first days of the outbreak, a protocol was implemented for those with a recent travel history. These were the people labeled as high risk. So it was easy to narrow down some of the people who needed an immediate quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.

Reduce COVID with Smartphone Location Data

Our phones are becoming increasingly useful for tracking location-based trends due to innovative mapping and data collection technology. For example, before COVID, our phones did not have the ability to draw conclusions about viral spread and exposure. But, in the case of Taiwan, once COVID exploded like it did, phones could detect travel histories, which is a red flag that those people might have contracted the virus elsewhere.

If smartphones didn’t have that GPS feature, they wouldn’t be able to monitor your whereabouts and alert you to a potential threat. With these features, you could protect yourself from subjecting a loved one to inadvertent and life-threatening harm.

As companies continue to develop and work on the COVID exposure feature on our smartphones, you may increasingly feel like you are being eavesdropped. You may feel like you are losing some of your privacy because your travels are being reported.

However, using smartphones to warn people about the need to isolate themselves may be the key to ending the pandemic. In its early stages, public health officials emphasized that contact tracing was vital to reducing how quickly the virus spreads, and most adhere to that guide today.

Data and associated technologies can strengthen our society

Data is an essential aspect of our world. Once the data is collected and turned into insights, we use it to keep up with even the fastest-moving current events. This is how companies understand what appeals to consumers and how engineers study the effects of new materials or manufacturing techniques.


The pandemic has changed our world in more ways than one, and we all have to adjust to life with new priorities. For employers, business owners and technology developers, COVID represents a watershed moment in the way business is done and how industry knowledge is shared and applied.

Technology could be the answer to protect the public from future threats while developing and improving a number of positive disruptive technologies.

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Top Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Kobu Agency; Thanks!

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