(gentle electronic tones) – Hi, I’m Dan Wang, and
I’m an Associate Professor at Columbia Business School. Where I study social
networks and innovation and how they affect business and society. I also teach the core strategy
class for MBA students and an elective class
on technology strategy. We are on lockdown here in New York City, and so that’s why I’m
coming to you from my office slash bedroom, where I
also have a whiteboard and where I also want to talk
to you about two things. Number one, how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting our lives
as teachers and educators at Columbia Business School. And number two, how the
epidemic is affecting business, in particular companies
like Walmart and Amazon. So, let’s talk business first. There’s never been a moment in history where it’s been clear what
the strategic importance of a company, like
Amazon is, in my opinion. While the U.S. might lack
the same type of government coordination capability,
as say, other countries, at the same time the U.S.
also has a concentration of industrial might and
technological innovation that no other country really possesses in the same unique way. There’s no better example
of this, by the way, than a company like Amazon. In fact, companies like Amazon
and I would include Walmart here as well, are already
strategically important to the United States. In part, because this is
how most of the country gets what they need. For example, Walmart
is the largest employer in the United States,
outside of the U.S. government. As well, 90% of Americans live within a 10 minute drive, or walk, of a Walmart. Likewise, we know Amazon primarily as an online retailer,
an e-commerce company. So last year in 2019, about $280 billion came to Amazon, in terms of revenues. About 50% of these revenues came from Amazon’s e-commerce business. About 30% came from fees that it gets from third party sellers that
use Amazon as a marketplace. The question is, where does
the other 20% come from? That’s a large sum of money. The next largest category of products that Amazon earns revenues
from is something called Amazon Web Services, or AWS for short. Now, if you haven’t heard this, AWS provides cloud computing for some of the biggest
businesses in the world. For example, anything you see on Facebook has been through Amazon’s
cloud computing servers, the same with Expedia, Citrix. Oh, by the way, Twitch,
Spotify, Netflix and Disney and that means Disney Plus as well. But it’s not just internet services. McDonald’s, for example, Unilever and even the U.S. Department of State all rely on AWS for
their backend computing. These organizations all need to function at an even higher level
now than they did before. And Amazon is the backbone that supports all of their efforts. AWS has grown the fastest, in fact, out of all Amazon’s business
lines over the past few years. And it shows just how
integrated our offline and online worlds are, both
personally and professionally. I think what you’ll see coming
out of the coronavirus crisis is companies like Amazon
gaining greater market power. Ultimately it will also
change our view of what an e-commerce company should look like. If traditional retail
hasn’t adapted by now, this crisis will certainly
force their hand. Now, this is a topic that
I would love to speak with and discuss with my MBA students. But as all of you know,
classroom instruction has ended at Columbia University. And that brings me to my second topic. What is it like, as a professor
at Columbia Business School, using Zoom to conduct
classes and meetings? It’s not easy. But many of us have
realized the advantages of interacting via a virtual interface. On the one hand, we, as instructors, have learned to institute certain norms that are quickly becoming pervasive. For example, making
sure that students mute their microphones when they
enter into a Zoom classroom. And also allowing five
to 10 minutes of prep for technical difficulties
before the class starts. And also setting ground rules and making clear what it
means to raise your hand or to cold call, from our end. All of this, as it turns out, is much easier to manage
in a virtual environment. In short, we’ve learned
to set expectations. But we also sorely miss
seeing our students in person. There’s so much that a
Zoom classroom can do but there’s also a great deal that it can’t replicate at all. But I think the most
important missing feature is something that’s called
collective effervescence. This is a term that I’m
not sure many people have ever heard of, but
collective effervescence refers to something in sociology. In fact, it was coined by
the father of sociology, Émile Durkheim, and this is what it means. Have you ever been to a football
game and watched your team, say, score the winning touchdown? Have you ever been to
a graduation ceremony and tossed your cap into the air? Have you ever been part of a protest march for something that you truly
and strongly believe in? That feeling of group
exaltation in those moments is collective effervescence. It’s hard to describe, but
it’s intuitive to all of us. And it’s something that you can only sense among a large group of people. A feeling of togetherness,
and unity, and also purpose. As faculty at CBS, we
try to create moments of collective effervescence in the classroom through discussion. Students learn best when
they trust one another and seeing and being near each
other is critical to this. We miss this. What this means for the future, though, is that even though
many of us have realized the benefits of virtual
teaching and virtual learning, I don’t think it will
replace physical teaching. It will cause a paradigm shift, for sure, but more toward thinking
about how we can make virtual and physical
teaching complementary and also a necessity. My prediction, is that all classes will likely head toward this hybrid model, where I hope will land on an equilibrium that’ll have the best of both worlds. I hope everyone is safe and healthy. Stay physically distant
but socially close. Wash your hands and we’ll all
get through this together. Thank you very much and see you soon.

How COVID-19 will affect internet services, e-commerce, and teaching
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4 thoughts on “How COVID-19 will affect internet services, e-commerce, and teaching

  • March 24, 2020 at 1:17 am
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    great content keep up the amazing content

    Reply
  • March 24, 2020 at 1:24 am
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    Awesome Video. More please! also, can we be Friends? :d

    Reply
  • March 24, 2020 at 1:50 am
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    Great stuff professor Wang 😁😁

    Reply
  • March 24, 2020 at 11:27 pm
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    Professor Wang, couldn't agree more on your hybrid leaning trend. I wonder if you've done any researches on what the equilibrium would like? Thanks.

    Reply

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