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One thing that COVID has taught Australians (particularly Victorians) is that the quality of contact tracing is integral to keeping outbreaks to a minimum and ensuring the country can remain open. Time and time again we have heard claims from our politicians of ‘gold standard’ contact tracing, and how effective it has been in combatting widespread transmission of COVID.
Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, was widely adopted by most state governments to handle and systemise a large chunk of contact tracing data.
Salesforce is one of the portfolio holdings of the BetaShares Cloud Computing ETF (CLDD), launched on 22 February 2021. Let’s take a closer look.
About Salesforce’s contact tracing system
In mid-2020, Victoria found itself in trouble when the second wave hit, as contract tracing was largely being done using inefficient and cumbersome manual processes including pens, paper and fax machines, and with a raft of different companies responsible for different areas of the system. The Victorian Government belatedly recruited Salesforce to provide a “digitised solution covering the whole contact tracing process – from test results to interviews, phone calls and the management of cases.”
Contact tracing involves interviewing those who have tested positive for COVID, identifying those at risk of infection and having them isolate before they can infect others.
The Salesforce system provides an electronic interface on which case managers can upload details of where COVID-positive people have been in order to alert others of potential risks. It provides a method to house contact details and log contacts in a more time efficient manner. This in turn allows suburban response units to co-ordinate their efforts and become more efficient by ensuring case managers are not missing contacts.
The Salesforce system also helps automate the assessment of results, including assessing who actually got sick (and how sick) and how infectious they were.
Before Victoria adopted the Salesforce system it had already been used widely in Western Australia, South Australia, New Zealand and in 35 U.S. states.
The Victorian Government recently announced it will pay a consultancy firm almost $4 million to improve Salesforce’s offering for contact tracing purposes1. These improvements will include a range of enhancements to the platform which is the starting point for contact tracing via automated messages, and better integration of QR codes that can help tracers understand where a person has been and alert others more quickly to potential risks.
All of this indicates that Salesforce is likely to continue to play a vital role in the management of COVID and other future pandemics.
Cloud computing on the rise
Salesforce is not the only company held by CLDD to be involved in the fight against COVID. Amazon was used by Moderna to build its mRNA research platform, which enabled Moderna to deliver its first vaccine candidate within 42 days of the sequencing of the virus2.
The adaptability of companies like Salesforce shows the rising importance of cloud computing in today’s workplace and society.
Cloud computing, which enables applications and data to be accessed from any location worldwide and from any device with an internet connection, offers significant benefits to businesses.
There can be cost savings, as there is a reduced need to run expensive local systems. The business no longer needs to worry about having to upgrade systems, as they are hosted elsewhere. Server capacity can be increased quickly, allowing a company to scale up or down as the company grows or shrinks. The technology offers greater mobility, and staff can work from anywhere – as demonstrated by the work from home phenomenon that accelerated during the pandemic. Lastly, disaster recovery may be handled better by using the cloud.
About the BetaShares Cloud Computing ETF (CLDD)
CLDD provides exposure to a portfolio of leading companies in the global cloud computing industry, including Salesforce and other familiar names such as Dropbox Inc, Xero Ltd, Zoom and Microsoft. These companies are involved in the delivery of computing services, servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and other services on the internet.
Since 2013 cloud companies on the Nasdaq-100 index have seen their values rise by 261%, to a market capitalisation of $2 trillion3. Additionally, growth rates for the average Cloud 100 company sit at 80% over the past twelve months, whilst the top five public companies including PayPal, Adobe, Salesforce, Shopify, and Zoom saw a 70% increase in their total market cap4.
While growth has been strong, there is still potential for significant further growth, with worldwide spending on cloud services and ancillary services estimated to surpass $1 trillion by 20245.
There are risks associated with an investment in CLDD, including market risk, technology sector risk, international investment risk and concentration risk. CLDD’s returns can be expected to be more volatile (i.e. vary up and down) than a broad global shares exposure, given its concentrated sector exposure. CLDD should only be considered as a component of a diversified portfolio. For more information on risks and other features of the Fund, please see the Product Disclosure Statement.
3. Ibid. Data as at March 15, 2021.
4. As at March 15, 2021. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. No assurance is given that these companies will remain in CLDD’s portfolio or will be profitable investments.
5. Refer to footnote 2.