Technology will play a crucial role in helping Australia build resilience as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health crisis has created a level of social, public health and economic uncertainty unseen in recent times. While much remains unknown, it is likely the virus will be with us for some time yet. So rather than snapping back to business-as-usual we will need to continue to adjust the way we live.
We believe technology will play an important role in this transition. That’s why we’re invested in a range of tech companies that can help our community become more resilient.
Helping students take tests online
During the second quarter of 2020 Australian schools worked hard to move lessons online, allowing students to study safely from home. While most students have now returned in Australia, restrictions remain elsewhere which has driven global demand for online tools. Some schools are continuing to incorporate an online element in their education programs providing a more flexible approach to attendance and learning. Moreover, the threat of a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic means that schools are keen to ensure they’re ready to return to online learning if necessary.
One of our investments is Janison, an Australian ed-tech company that was listed on the ASX in 2017. It’s a global provider of digital learning and assessment platforms. Janison’s technology enables students to take exams at home or on a device in a classroom. The platform is designed to replace pen and paper with an online bank of questions. The integrity of the exam process can be monitored with artificial-intelligence based identification checks, incident tracking and human supervision of the testing process.
Higher interest in online assessments, combined with the COVID-19 crisis, has accelerated the company’s global growth opportunities. Janison was recently engaged to provide online university entrance exams across the Czech Republic and selected examinations for the University of London. It has also partnered with global learning provider Desire 2 Learn to help it expand into North America and Europe. Our investment team recently participated in a capital raising by Janison (which means we bought new shares in the company) to help it take advantage of some of the opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis.
Maintaining efficiency and productivity
Physical distancing and hygiene measures like handwashing are critical to help slow the spread of COVID-19. And with some strains of the virus reported to live up to five days on paper surfaces, many organisations are favouring electronic signing (eSigning) for leases, contracts and other legal documentation. They’re also choosing to share electronic documents over hard copies.
PDFs are the natural choice for document sharing. They’re easy to view and share, have a relatively small file size, can be password-protected and preserve the original formatting. They also cut paperwork, which reduces office clutter and saves trees.
Australian-founded firm Nitro is a global company that provides digital collaboration tools including PDF productivity and eSigning services. Its software helps businesses with workflow tools to edit, store, protect and compare PDFs. The eSignature solution means documents get signed faster and securely on any device without the need for paper, pens or printers. Under the Australian Ethical Charter, Nitro receives a positive assessment because it helps develop appropriate technological systems and helps improve wasteful practices.
Staying safe in the cloud
As more people work from home, companies can benefit from managing workloads remotely. Remote working is more effective if data can be stored efficiently, securely and cheaply in the cloud instead of on company premises.
Rhipe is a cloud-channel company that provides licensing, business development and knowledge services to help service-provider businesses and their customers transition to the cloud. As one of Microsoft’s globally managed licence partners, Rhipe provides a platform to manage recurring monthly cloud software subscriptions that IT resellers can buy to provide to their end-users. The company also offers these resellers marketing, consulting and technical support.
The growth in public cloud use has seen Rhipe’s sales increase by 33% in the first half of the 2020 financial year compared with the same six months in 2019. Its revenue grew by 24% in the same period with the company now expanding into Southeast Asia.
This article originally appeared in Good Money magazine. You can read the latest issue here.