COVID-19 was perhaps the top news of 2020. The disease impacted many lives and will forever change the way we live. Australians and businesses in the country were also greatly affected by the virus. Even though government and the country as a whole fared better compared to other places like the United States and Europe, the pandemic has caused lockdowns which has caused waves across industries.
The good news is that Australia has been successful in keeping COVID-19 numbers down and has become the catalyst for change especially when it comes to how we do business. Here are some of the digital lessons we learned from 2020.
Thrive or Survive
With so many of us having to work from home this year, apps like Zoom, Slack, Webex and Microsoft Teams have seen a surge in market share. Zoom for example saw a 335% growth last year with many teams and companies shifting from working at the office to working at home.
Many industries and companies also realized that working from home was possible and doable. In Australia, telecommuting is on the rise with over 40% of the workforce now considered as “mobile” workers.
This is not to say that all industries were unaffected by the lockdowns Australia had to impose. The tourism industry for instance suffered greatly due to the pandemic. Qantas recorded a $2 billion loss last year. Restrictions for the hospitality industry also had a big impact on Australia’s economy with many venues, restaurants and pubs reducing capacity and adapting to digital ordering systems to lessen physical contact.
Contactless payment, social distancing and sanitizing are now considered as the “new normal”. Businesses inside and outside Australia has had to adapt to this new way of doing business.
Ecommerce Had To Adapt Or Die
The pandemic has accelerated many trends. Aside from working from home, ecommerce also experienced a big boost due to COVID-19 with many sellers turning to online platforms in order to continue business despite lockdowns.
Amazon for instance had perhaps one of the best years in terms of sales. It is projected that the company will do $52B in gross merchandise volume by 2023 and more businesses are following in their footsteps.
With more companies doubling efforts to shift businesses to ecommerce, companies also had to readjust marketing values in order to accommodate the message of the pandemic. The Dove campaign below is a good example of how brands have become conscious of their messaging and sensitive towards COVID-19.
Traditional brick and mortar stores will continue to struggle in 2021 without an ecommerce counterpart to pick up the slack. Those who adopt late will need to be creative in their marketing tactics in order to standout.
During the first lockdown, businesses in Australia had to adapt to contactless form of business in order to stop the spread of the virus. UberEats, Menulog and Dominoes advertised a no-contact delivery option wherein customers can select whether they wanted their food delivered and left at the front door so that both parties can practice social distancing.
Supermarkets also went with contactless options and customers can have options like shopping on line and then picking it up curbside, having scheduled shopping hours for seniors and other members of the vulnerable population or ordering online and having it delivered at your doorstep.
The Australian government also had to rethink services and launched an expanded Medicare-subsidized health service so that consultations, referrals and prescriptions can be done through online channels.
Tech Jobs On The Rise
This shift to digital has increased the demand for tech jobs. According to LinkedIn, “software engineer” was the leading search term for April 2020.
R&D tax incentives in the budget were also revealed by the Federal Government with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg calling research and development and the adoption of digital technology “critical to Australia’s future prosperity”. $2 billion is being committed RDTI scheme.
The rapid growth of IT, fintech and platforms saw rapid growth in the pandemic which is seen to continue on after it has passed. This means that tech jobs will be in demand as it is important for business owners to understand the role of technology in growing their business. With government backing up incentives for R&D, companies need to take advantage of this opportunity starting this year.
Businesses will continue to face challenges in the coming year. Even with news of vaccinations in many countries across the world, flexibility, innovation and resilience is important for businesses to prosper during and after a pandemic.
2020 has clearly been a turning point in history. Many companies have realized that they need to build the competencies the wished that they have invested in before. R&D, digitalization and a more data driven business can help businesses weather pandemics and other challenges to come.