6 Main Business Shifts Caused By COVID-19

2nd June 2020 |
6 min read
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Today, we can say with full confidence that 2020 will be remembered as a year that created a major worldwide business shift. We all know the reason – COVID-19. This disease rapidly turned into a pandemic, which caused global breakdown and lockdown on the heretofore unknown scale. On the downside – millions of people have lost their jobs, thousands of businesses have shut down altogether, the global economy is in dire straits. On the upside – coronavirus has significantly accelerated the digital transformation. Companies that operate online celebrate previously unseen growth.

Without a shadow of a doubt, coronavirus has dramatically changed our lives. We will never go back to the status quo from before the pandemic. Does this mean that there is no hope for these thousands of companies out there that struggle to stay in business? Fortunately, there is hope, and it’s close and real!

Before we start, let’s think about businesses that have found themselves in a severe crisis. COVID has especially affected SMEs (Small Medium-sized Enterprises). According to the Special Report on Coronavirus and Small Business conducted in the United States, one quarter of small businesses have already shut down. This doesn’t mean, however, that big players are in a much better situation. According to MarketingWeek.com, over 90% of marketers said customers are ‘reluctant to schedule in-person meetings’. This means that all the brick-and-mortar stores and service points, bars, restaurants, clubs, clinics, travel agents, and other, so to say offline companies struggle to stay afloat.

Industries and companies that relied on offline presence have to change their thinking, and do it quickly! The companies that operate online, companies that have mastered the digital environment now flourish. This is the best and most straightforward advice for this time of crisis: Go online!

The digital business reality

What’s happening today inside of the big organizations? Whilst more “traditional” departments are being threatened with job loss or going furlough, the digital departments are increasingly busy. Huge pressure is exerted on the digital product managers to deliver results ASAP. If your job title has “digital” in it, brace yourself for extra workload as you will be (or perhaps you already are!) working double shifts. Unfortunately, some of the people in the digital departments are just not prepared for this shift. Simply because they (let’s be honest here) were not so busy in the past or lack the necessary skills.

Now, everything changes. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the uptake of digital solutions, tools, and services, thus speeding up the global transition towards the digital economy.

What else has changes? 6 main shifts.

  • Strategic planning: In the past, companies were planning 2-3 years ahead. Now, it’s 2-3 weeks ahead.
  • The digital channels: In the past, they were considered “nice to have”, now they are “a must-have”. The internet is the only space that cannot be affected by a virus or other worldwide tragedies.
  • Trends: The global digitalization has been clearly visible for several years now, but now this shift accelerates like never in the past.
  • The problem-solving approach: Today, businesses should now ask themselves, “what problems are we solving for our customers?” Not, “what do we want them to buy?” Modern business has to answer to the real needs coming from the market.
  • Communication: The best way to know which problems to solve is by listening to the voices coming from the customers. It’s the Digital Way! The recent situation showed us that customers have more time and willingness to feedback on ideas. So creating a channel where you can talk to the customers remotely and let them share their opinion could be a real success story during this crisis!
  • The end of bureaucracy? Especially the regulated industries are at risk here, as rapidly changing, digitizing and redesigning is not possible in a short period due to the multiple levels of bureaucracy and lengthy approval of processes. Companies should focus on applying rapid (although not hasty) changes.

Who wins?

In this new reality, digital products, services, and platforms thrive. That’s because modern consumers seek entertainment, shopping opportunities, and new ways of communicating online. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of companies that flourish during this crisis:

  • Zoom: In April, this company revealed that they had surpassed 300 million meeting participants daily. That’s a huge growth considering that this number was “just” 10 million in December 2019.
  • Steam: It’s the online gaming platform. It attracted over 20 million simultaneous users on March 15th. It was an indisputable record for the number of users online at any one time in the history of this platform.
  • Slack: They added 9,000 new paid customers, an increase of 80% compared to the previous quarter, between February 1st and March 25th.
  • Revolut: The predictions indicate that their user base will hit 16 million by 2021. This growth represents an increase of about 36%.

All of these companies operate exclusively online. Granted, the digitalization is allowing telemedicine, telework, online education, and other online services to proliferate. What does it tell you? We can draw two important conclusions:

  1. You ought to think about the ways to digitize your company and implement them ASAP.
  2. If your company already operates online (good for you!), you should optimize and possibly even redesign your offer.

How so? That’s because today’s online scenery changes rapidly. Companies need to stay relevant to their customers and adapt to work faster and more agile than ever! Let’s talk about this question for a while.

Rapid redesign of the digital products

No matter if your company has a digital product or not, one thing is for certain: The recent events have shown that there is a need for rapid adjustments of the digital products so that they meet the ever-changing customer needs, government restrictions, and worldwide situation.

That’s why modern businesses should focus on enhancing their online visibility and producing and improving their online products and services. This is the only way to dodge the COVID-19 bullet and many others that are yet to come.

You need a rapid design team

In order to do so, you need a solid digital team that will help boost your company’s online presence. Experienced and seasoned digital product managers are in high demand at the moment, as the world is switching all of the operations and activity online.

Clearly, some of the companies have not been ready for this to happen so quickly, leaving their digital product managers with a lot to do in a very short period of time. That’s why it’s more important than ever to pull various departments in your company together and let them concentrate on your online presence. It should be your first and major goal in the coming months.

We do realize that for many companies, it’s like crossing an ocean. That’s why we offer our full support! Innovatika is experienced in transforming businesses into digital titans. With our help, your company will thrive online. Drop us a line, and let the magic begin!

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Tomasz Jastrzębski
Tomasz Jastrzębski | Innovation Expert
Tomek is a leader of special projects requiring an innovative approach and agile implementation of changes. Innovation consultant and manager. Facilitator of Design Thinking, team dynamics, and fascinating presentations. Since 2009, he has been working with specialized creative methods, including those developed for the CIA agents. Tomek has trained over 1,500 managers and specialists in innovation and creativity, as well as has dozens of implemented projects. At Innovatika, he manages the product commercialization and incubation projects and runs workshops on innovation. Until now, Tomek is a head of, among others: Innovation Academy for Energa and the Product Commercialization Project for Lingaro.

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