[Geordie accent] Day 2 in the big brother house, and Andy is in the study…….

Self-isolation for the household is going to feel far longer than 2 weeks I fear. In fact, the BBC says that government advisors have suggested a period of social distancing (the new name for the quarantine, meaning “forty days” in 14th-century Venetian) perhaps even until the end of the year. However, isolation does allow the mind to wander (don’t worry, not going into any NSFW moments here). Not just me I mean – my son, in this case, discovered he’s been so tight with his Christmas presents and pocket money that he’s managed to amass £400 and announced he’d like to “buy some shares in the internet”. I can’t fault him on his logic.

Coinciding nicely, BT gave us some stats about how the UK network is coping with the extra demands that working from home, and now schooling from home, will place on it. These days we are such a bunch of ne’er-do-wells who lounge in front of our screens to game and watch live streaming football that the demands from the online video conferencing that we are learning to love are a walk in the park. The highest peak BT has ever seen was 17.5 terabits per second (terabit = a trillion bits), with normal daytime usage down at only 5 Tb/s. Daytime traffic this week, which has increased 35-60% compared with similar days historically, has peaked at 7.5 Tb/s – still only half the average evening peak. Mobile data consumption has fallen as people use WiFi – but mobile calls, which is the only element of the networks being tested, have risen.

While we can’t “buy shares in the internet”, BT is not a bad bet for business continuity – notwithstanding bad debts will rise. Looking around the house at how our habits have changed, I’m a little bit in love with Microsoft Teams, and LoopUp – both of which are so easy to use that they encourage even greater use, and the last of the Luddites are becoming enlightened. Redcentric is enjoying providing effortless home working to its customers’ staff; Maintel’s large scale UCaaS solution offering presence for call centres wherever staff are working; and Gamma Communications, after the embarrassment of the technical failure of its analyst call (on Webex), which had to be briefly postponed, can do the same for smaller businesses.

I could do with a sandwich shop as making my lunch is an unwelcome novelty – and necessitates ingredients, for which we would use online supermarket shopping but now can’t get a slot anymore. We’ve deliberately held back from bulk buying, to our cost. Might even have to eat the last loo roll.

Being penned up in the house we will be watching more Netflix/Amazon Prime together – and for the poor residents of non-English speaking countries, subtitling and dubbing can be important to while away their hours in lockdown. Creating the subs and dubs in the current environment merits a cloud platform for remote delivery, instead of using a centralised studio – exactly what ZOO Digital can provide. Meanwhile, with the need for TV anytime anywhere, Amino and its relatively recent acquisition 24i can provide the tech to deliver an end-to-end TV platform as the consumer prefers, as clients (telcos and cable companies) will increasingly find that that functionality is not an add-on but a basic requirement.

Email for internal purposes is clearly showing me that it has had its day. Overall I’m hoping to save money in isolation, but being bored and checking external emails, the benefits of precise marketing from dotdigital clients makes those emails relevant. It’s too tempting when the targeted marketing firmly hits the mark. Damn them, but buy them! Boredom also extends to using more apps and spending more money in that way too – Bango is nicely positioned to benefit, particularly in Japan where physical goods and fresh food can be charged to your mobile bill over their platform.

These bizarre times will make a permanent difference to how we work, dramatically accelerating the dropping of older practices for new – email and phone calls to Teams, face-to-face client meetings to LoopUp, and acceleration of the use of screen sharing. The Big Brother House in SW12 won’t have a winner, sadly – but at least now I’ve had a fever and temperature I might be able to be the first one back in the pub? Every cloud has a silver lining; and all the silver linings above have the cloud.

Happy Friday