It is of no doubt that Covid-19 has changed our lifestyles on a global scale as many of us find ways to adapt to the new norm. From a business standpoint, companies need to re-examine their strategies to accommodate the shifts in consumer behaviors. For many companies, this means that they need to create new and engaging content for their users, keeping in mind the new and fast-shifting regulations.  

TechNode Global gathered three industry experts at its first episode of the Tech Insights webinar series on April 29 to share their thoughts on the opportunities and challenges faced by the digital entertainment and education industry amid the pandemic.


## TL;DW? We’ve got you covered, here are the 5 key takeaways from the discussion:


1. Demand for online services is more prominent than ever

Jessie Yu, senior product lead of Alibaba Cloud, revealed that 120 million students, 3.5 million teachers, and 120,000 schools have been using Dingtalk for e-learning in China since the Covid-19 outbreak. DingTalk is an enterprise communication and collaboration app developed by Alibaba.

Similarly, Snapask, an on-demand tutoring app, has acquired 1.3 million new users in the past 12 months. Over 30% of them were registered during February and March. Usage of Snapask and the number of questions asked on its platform spiked by 40%. 

Media consumption has observed a significant jump as well. Justin Leong, CEO of Rebel Fighting Championship, a dynamic Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) streaming company, noted an increment of close to 60% in media content consumption. TV viewership in Asian countries grew 43%, with news programs being the biggest gainer. Sports content has seen a growth of 38% within its segment.

Knowing these increased demands in education services and content consumption, you might be asking, what’s next? 


2. You’ve got to be creative in new ways

“Having the innovation and creativity is the way to circumvent the problem”, said Leong. Admittedly, while virtual events can’t match in-person events, the demand for sports content still exists and it is advisable to explore new forms of monetization models to gain more traction.

He emphasized that sports events organisers have to rethink their marketing strategies and business models to leverage livestreaming content as a way to engage audiences, and also forge new synergies with advertisers and sponsors.

Short video content – typically below 60 seconds – is in an upward trend which J. Yu highlighted as “one of the new norms”. It is not just to provide entertainment, but short video apps are a powerful and effective tool to generate professional content. Their distinctive format captures the audience’s attention and enhances their call-to-action capabilities.

Acknowledging this trend, Alibaba Cloud now provides a short video solution to enable their customers to adopt the short video functions either in their applications or in a completely new application. 


3. Accelerated digital transformation is here to stay 

Will people abandon digital tools when the outbreak is over? Our panellists certainly do not think so.

Yu said that the accelerated adoption of digital solutions during this period gives us a glimpse of what the future will be like. “If something works better, you wouldn’t go back once you have tried it. E-learning will exist for a long time because it’s not just a temporary solution during schools’ shut-down period,” he added. 

The Snapask founder also lauded the receptiveness and efficiency of governments during this pandemic, citing its recent partnership with the Taipei city government clinched within just two weeks as an example of behavioural change amongst regulatory bodies. 

Digitalization also provides more flexible and more responsive education, added J. Yu. Remote education offers an extended reach which makes it impossible to be abandoned altogether after the pandemic ends. “It will be a combination of offline and online education tools,” she said.


4. The more competition, the merrier 

T. Yu and Leong recognized and welcomed the competition industry titans brought to the entertainment and education industries. “Sometimes more competition is better for everyone, and I think this is the case for education,” he said. “We hope that the more players there are offering effective e-learning solutions, the better it is for the education industry itself.” 

Likewise, Leong said that having more content producers presents more partnership opportunities“In China, there are a multitude of platforms serving different audiences’ streaming and content needs,” he added. He believes the more players and streaming modes made available, the more beneficial it is for the entertainment industry. 


5. Measuring the effectiveness of digital education tools

Working and learning at home has led to a spike in data breaches. “When building an e-learning platform, security and access authentication are the two key things to bear in mind,” said Alibaba’s Yu. Building layers of authentications ensuring the right features and functions are made available can help manage the users better, she added.

While it seems that e-learning may be the future, Snapask’s Yu cautioned that the effectiveness of online interactions and e-learning remains a huge question mark. “Teachers are not trained to conduct classes online, making it challenging for livestreamed classes to be as interactive as schools were hoping for,” he added. While not all aspects of education can be transferred online, T. Yu expressed optimism that this gap in online teaching would be a starting point for teachers to prepare themselves for the future.


About the panellists:

Justin Leong, CEO, Rebel Fighting Championship

Justin Leong founded Rebel Fighting Championship in May 2013, spurred by his enthusiasm for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and an enterprising mindset. 

Rebel Fighting Champion is the leader of Asian MMA and will become the top-ranked MMA organisation in Asia distributed to over 60 countries with television access to 1 billion homes.

Justin has managerial experience in project management, financial management, financial reporting, budgeting, and was in charge of controlling clients’ financial activities in his previous company. Graduated in Singapore with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Banking and Finance.


Timothy Yu, CEO, Snapask

After completing his degree in risk management, Timothy decided a career in finance wasn’t for him. Instead, he was fascinated by the satisfaction of enlightening students as a tutor. He believes that curiosity is the key to knowledge, and questioning is the best way to learn–”it begins with a question” became Timothy’s motto.

Questioning the efficiency and effectiveness of brick-and-mortar tutoring centres, he began working on an alternative platform to bridge the strong demand for after-class education support with talented but busy university students. Leveraging the convenience of mobile technology, he founded Snapask in 2015. Students can now snap a picture of the question at hand and receive assistance from locally-sourced tutors within 10 seconds. Snapask has garnered strong support from high school students, and is now serving over two millionstudents across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.


Jessie Yu, senior product lead, Alibaba Cloud

Jessie Yu leads the product go-to-market strategy for international markets, including product lifecycle management, growth opportunities assessment, channel enablement and product roadmap planning.

Prior to joining Alibaba Cloud, Jessie was a principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, a global leading growth consulting firm with extensive coverage in information and communication technologies. She is a business strategy and technology consulting leader with over 10 years experience in digital consulting advisory, customer experience strategy, market entry and advisory on technology-backed business decisions.

Jessie holds a master degree in social science from National University of Singapore. In her spare time, Jessie enjoys practicing for marathons, going on hikes, and planning for the next adventure with the husband and kids.

Steven Millward, senior editor, TechNode Global (moderator)

Steven Millward covers the Southeast Asia tech startup market for TechNode Global. He is interested in ecommerce, social media, gadgets, transportation, and cars.