Diary of a retail technologist – Week 3 of Lockdown

Reproduced from – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/diary-retail-technologist-week-3-lockdown-avneendra-arun/

I used to write diaries when I was a kid, I used to blog when I graduated, then I got busy with work+family in last few years and let my writing stop. I greatly miss it and hence when I noticed linkedin publishing , I thought to start it again but kept deferring it (reminds me of this TED talk) .. finally this pandemic thing is triggering so many thoughts in my brain that I thought I better let go of my procrastination and start capturing these thoughts here now. Accordingly hoping to begin with this post and continue on regular basis (goal is to be weekly). Also thinking to do few past dated entries, but will see how it goes.

April 4th 2020, 1:25 AM

I am trying to gather my thoughts on this Friday night, I can’t help but have my brain hop across variety of topics. I am just listing them down here in random order.


I was talking to my dad last week who is currently locked down in home in Bangalore, India and he mentioned he has seen nothing like this his entire life. I mentioned to him there was a big pandemic in 1918 (The Spanish Flu), but of course that was prior to even him being born and would be in the time of my grandparents would be kids.

This is really mind boggling for me that we are dealing with something that not just our generation has not seen but even our parents generation has not dealt with something like this. We are truly in uncharted territory here and whatever we are doing right now is going to be lesson learned for future selves and will completely change many aspects of our lives.

Family (Wife and Kids)

As both working parents, me and my wife are immersing ourself in work throughout day, while kids are on their own to deal with the new online schooling system that they have no prior experience with. I feel proud of how everyone has adapted to lifestyle changes but still feel conscious if we are doing enough to make best of the situation and if I am providing best I can for my family. I keep checking with my kids throughout day on how they are doing and try to give them a day of balance of “education time” and “fun time”.

On the other hand, when I look at online schooling system, I feel very impressed on how teachers and educators have sprung on such a short notice and got things together. I am amazed with the positive outlook from my kids teacher who send words of encouragement on daily basis on such a stressful time.

However, being a technologist, when I look at the online schooling system- I do not feel impressed with the basic google docs system I see. I feel given the technological advances we have- that platform could have been much stronger and maybe we are not giving the right tools to our teachers and kids here. I see lot of opportunities there, perhaps this crisis will accelerate and focus on the online learning sector and will bring necessary change of stronger online learning platforms which is not limited to any county, state or country but at a global level.

The Economy and The unemployment

This is the biggest thing on everyone’s mind.

I remember 2008 October-November months when the financial sector was going down, taking rest of the economy with them. At that moment it felt like it is going to be all hell for rest of our lives .. all gloom and doom for next many years. But then things got better.

I remember a quote from one of ex-boss who used to say- “just when you will think that things cannot go worse than this- it will”. In 2008, we all thought we have seen the worse and are well past it. There is no other recession that could be worse than this. However looking at current situation of many sectors being halted – travel, retail, restaurant .. I cant help but notice the ripple effect it is bringing and will continue to bring on months/years to come.

Retail Sector

I have worked on retail and ecommerce throughout my career. I have seen the dance of new way and old way of shopping –

  • The new way of shopping (ecommerce, omnichannel, multichannel) – triggered by technological innovation in customer interaction, supply chain, data analytics and so forth.
  • The old way of shopping – driven by human to human touch.. go through your nearby store and have a chit-chat with store associate. or family generations going to same chain of stores year after year.

I always believed both sides will continue to thrive and survive as being humans we will continue to innovate but still we cannot survive without human to human touch. However, in past few weeks, the needle has been heavily tilted on first one. Companies who invested on their digital platforms are reaping the benefits (eg- online grocery systems) and companies who may not have invested so much on digital side are paying the price (I feel especially bad for small businesses who dont have so much access to technology.. but again there could be business potential there and this may accelerate investment on those much needed areas).

The Disease

While all of above things are scary, it is nothing compared to chill running down the spine to imagine what would happen if someone we know gets infected with the disease. There are so many unknowns there –

  • Would it be possible to keep others in family uninfected?
  • Would it be possible to stay at home or would need to get admitted to Hospital?
  • Would there be enough beds and facilities at the Hospital?
  • Would it lead to the last family meeting situation we are reading and hearing on media?

I dont have answers here but perhaps these thoughts will keep us on our toes for next few weeks/months.

The Hobby

Let me end this post on lighter note. The time saved from office commute and to calm my nerves, I have turned back to the medicine I know- MUSIC. It’s always my desire to improve on my piano and hence will try to stop procrastinating on it as well and I am planning to practice more on it upcoming weeks. Here I am practicing Fur Elise this week –

Good Bye .. hope to talk to you soon again !!

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