From acceleration to an entirely digital era to how we value personal relationships, COVID has already had profound effects on our lives today—most of which have positive implications going forward.
We can already see the influence of the current pandemic and how the internet is helping businesses flourish in the following ways:
A wave of digital transformation spanning key industries
Consumers are spending more time online, and businesses are meeting them where they are. This trend hasn’t just seen social media and e-commerce skyrocket, either. The retail, hospitality and banking sectors have had to adapt, and businesses are paying attention.
According to an article published by McKinsey last year: “... recent data show that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” This advancement wouldn’t have been so rapid had the hands of businesses not been forced by the pandemic.
Big brands are paving the way for digital transformation during COVID:
- Walmart combined their grocery and Walmart Mobile apps to create a one-stop-shop digital experience for their customers. Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer, says, “We don't ask customers to make two trips to the store, one for groceries and one for all the other things they need, so we shouldn't ask them to visit two apps.” This quick shift to comprehensive digital service led to a 74 percent increase in online sales during the pandemic.
- Coffee and donut titan Dunkin’ integrated curbside pickup and delivery into their mobile app, leading to an increased percentage of mobile orders and visitation during times outside of the original peak morning traffic. These digital efforts have scaled online orders to 18 percent of sales for Dunkin’.
- Tennessee-based financial services company First Horizon Bank recognized the need for a more sophisticated digital banking platform and is seeing the results. Pat Kelly, chief digital officer of First Horizon Bank, says that “Early performance metrics indicate that we are on par with or ahead of the top national banks in terms of engagement and speed. Plus, leveraging the cloud to deploy digital banking has allowed us to introduce updates more often and innovate faster.”
Related: 7 lessons brick-and-mortar businesses can learn from the delivery boom
Fundamental changes to the way we work
Remote work has now become mainstream. The fact that the work-from-home culture has maintained or even improved productivity has been a revelation for businesses that were hesitant to adopt the strategy in the past. From Shopify to UpWork to Coinbase, major digital-first brands are recognizing that WFH is here to stay.
This trend has led to innovation in software tools that keep companies connected and everything running smoothly. As Jack Kelly, a senior contributor for Forbes, states, “The consensus seems that the widespread availability and ease of use of technologies to collaborate and stay in constant contact, such as Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts and other services, enabled people to smoothly adapt to the new work-from-home setup.”
Environmental impact is now under the spotlight
Consumers care about sustainability, bottom line. And COVID has led to no shortage of reporting on climate change and the effects businesses have on it.
Indeed, the COVID pandemic has pushed environmental impacts from businesses in the right direction. According to an article by The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical trade journal, “NASA satellites have documented significant reductions in air pollution—20-30% in many cases—in major cities around the world.” This can be attributed primarily to fewer cars on the road without daily commutes and halts in manufacturing and distribution.
Savvy businesses recognize that COVID is an opportunity to get ahead with their sustainable business practices. As Glenn Hoetker writes for SmartCompany, “The middle of a global pandemic may seem like a reasonable time for a company to pull back from efforts to become more sustainable. But the benefits of a more strategic approach to sustainability are greater than ever and, perhaps surprisingly, COVID-19 may have made the necessary changes easier than they would otherwise be.”