Virtual meetings. Virtual drinks. Virtual birthdays. The coronavirus pandemic has created a world where virtual has become the new normal.
Underpinning all of that is technology. Internet companies have benefited as people have sheltered at home. Netflix saw a boost to subscribers in the first half of the year, people have turned to Amazon for online shopping, while Zoom has had a boom selling video call software.
China, where the coronavirus first emerged, appears to largely have it under control. After strict measures earlier in the year with large swathes of the country shut down, China has reopened the economy. Life here is very different from the experiences being described by friends of mine around the world.
I was recently at e-commerce giant Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, filming an interview. And it was busy as the company is gearing up for its massive shopping event called Singles Day on November 11. People were largely mask-less. In recent months, I've similar scenes in different parts of the country.
But while the country has largely returned back to normal, the digitization trend that has swept the world has also remained in China. There are more digital events and conferences, for example.
Chinese technology companies have reaped the benefits of that and are investing for the future. Meituan, the food delivery service, and e-commerce giant Alibaba have seen strong growth, as consumer flock online. Search giant Baidu is looking to invest in digital healthcare.
Is globalization really over? What does healthcare look like in the future? What will the state of the economy be like in the next few years? Are driverless cars any closer to becoming reality? And how will technology play a role in our lives going forward?
These are just some of the questions we'll explore at East Tech West with some of the biggest players from across a number of industries.