COVID-19 – inhibitor or initiator?
It’s not often that so many around the world are all impacted by the same event on a global scale, or to such a large extent. COVID-19 presents a unique situation in both its size and scope, and in the way that it is radically and completely altering the way societies and economies function. Regular life is temporarily being brought to a halt all around the world as governments, scientists and medical professionals struggle to contain something that very few people were prepared for.Most of the global population is currently in the midst of a self imposed quarantine.
Is there a way through this that minimizes the long term economic damage? And what are the lessons we can learn from to better prepare for uncertainty in the future?
The increasing adoption of digital solutions by businesses and industries to meet the changing needs of consumers could be the silver lining in the dark cloud of COVID-19 that currently looms over us, and it could be the answer to both of these questions.
The COVID-19 impact on businesses
One of the main preventative measures being enforced around the world with uniformity, referred to as social distancing or physical distancing, has seen significant restrictions on the how, where, and why people may move freely in public locations in an effort to curb the spread.
While this has proven to be highly effective at slowing down the spread and viral potential of anyone displaying symptoms, the effects have also been felt by businesses – in particular those that rely on the physical presence of customers and staff. More people are working from home than ever before, but many businesses have closed.
As a whole, small businesses around the globe are taking the worst hit – with many family owned and operated services in industries such as retail, tourism, hospitality, fitness, and live entertainment being all but eliminated. With a lack of physical customer traffic, cash flow is drying up while expenses remain. However they are not alone and we have also seen the collapse of national airlines, retail chains, and more.
The businesses that have managed to adapt and thrive most successfully have all been those that either had existing digital avenues, or that have been able to quickly pivot and add the necessary digital elements to maintain access to a supply of c ustomers and to continue providing goods and services. Online sales and home delivery services reign supreme now.
Economic Insights for COVID-19
As a result of the restrictions in place (especially those on work and travel) entire economies are being impacted by reduced trade at all levels. Travel and transport bans have led to political tensions, trade deals are being re-evaluated, and governments are looking at trying to predict and plan for a future post-COVID.
Businesses today have to survive not only the pandemic but also the surge of new businesses that enter the weakened market afterwards. Entrepreneurs and startup businesses are wary of entering the game during this economic climate – and they are right to be concerned – but it’s important to focus beyond the pandemic and identify what opportunities still exist, and or are being created as a result of current events.
Despite the current climate looking grim, it will eventually improve, and businesses that enter the industry at this key point could be entering at an extremely prosperous time. With the reduced competition and changing landscape of the current markets, there is plenty of opportunity for smart business people to catch the coming wave of innovation and be part of a transformation in the way we do business not just locally, but at a global level.
While many governments are stepping in to support their economies with local stimulus packages to see businesses through to the end of the quarantine period, there are innovators looking at ways to reach beyond the boundaries of the local market. They have their eyes set on a more accessible market with a much bigger reach, a global market that is now being forced online by necessity.
Importance of Adopting Digital to Fight COVID-19
The rapidly changing landscape created by the COVID-19 pandemic puts businesses in an interesting position.
Social distancing has changed the way that business is currently being done and forcing us all to use options that minimize or completely eliminate physical or social contact with others. Going digital is not just an advantage for businesses to get ahead of the competition, it has essentially become a necessity for businesses to survive the current economic conditions.
For a lot of businesses that already offered both traditional and digital customer acquisition and sales channels, their digital channels have (at least temporarily) become the core of their business – and many of the apps users do not have alternative options to the services provided through these apps.
Mobile apps that enable remote coaching have allowed parts of the fitness industry to stay active. The entertainment industry is relying more than ever on streaming services to deliver in-home movie experiences. Tourism and cultural experiences (including zoos, art galleries, and museums) are using digital solutions to bring nature, knowledge, and adventure to us.
Big name sports entertainment services like ESPN are now broadcasting video games, showing matches from eSports competitions to fill the voids created by the lack of professional sporting competitions such as NFL, soccer, and basketball.
Digital alternatives to traditional services and products are being pushed to the front of mind for society on a whole new scale, and customers and businesses alike are beginning to realise the benefits of digital goods and services, both for the increased accessibility and for the reduced cost.
The digital world provides a range of benefits that can’t be ignored, and the biggest challenges are often more personal than practical these days.
Working remotely is great for some and not so great for others, and maintaining consistent communication between team members can be a bit more difficult when you’re used to working in an open office where everyone is right there with you. There is also an adjustment period for some shoppers who are accustomed to – or seek out – a human element in making any purchase.
However, as a whole we see that the move toward a more digital world and the automation of purchasing or providing goods and services has given people more flexibility in their lives. Remote working is giving employees more flexibility, work-life balance and enabling them to access a wide range of options digitally in the comfort of their own home. At the same time, improvements to digital retail experiences (such as the ability to try out clothing with virtual or augmented reality apps) and the ease of shopping online give customers more purchasing power and more convenient access to a greater variety of products and stores.
As a company at the forefront of technological innovation, we see a bright light at the end of the tunnel – and so do our clients.
PixelForce is one of the leading app development agencies in Australia. We don’t just build great apps. We build successful businesses. If you’ve got a great idea, then feel free to get in touch and see how we can help you turn your vision into a reality