Covid Has Accelerated Digital Technology by 7 Years. Here's What That Means…

Covid Has Accelerated Digital Technology by 7 Years. Here’s What That Means…

Covid-19 will forever be etched in our memories as a period of great disruption. 

In only a few months, the way we live our lives and trade has fundamentally changed. A global survey by McKinsey has revealed the extent of this transformation within the world of business – digitisation across supply and value chains has advanced by three to four years. As for digitisation of products? That’s accelerated by over seven years.  

With close to a decade of gains made in a manner of months, businesses are looking to make the new and temporary solutions they’ve created in response to this crisis long-lasting.  Customer expectations have forever been changed and companies are keen to keep pace. Therefore, the next logical steps are to prioritise investment to solidify these digital initiatives and lock in progress.

Let’s take a closer look at how Covid has reshaped the digital landscape, particularly, how it has accelerated customer expectations around shopping and buying online.

One giant leap forward for digitisation

With the pandemic, droves of people took to online channels to continue their day-to-day activities. That forced many companies and entire industries to respond, leading to a quantum leap in digitisation. The Mckinsey survey confirms this – responses from executives suggest that most companies are seeing over 80% of customer interactions now happening online. Most compelling has been the acceleration witnessed in digitally enhanced offerings and the changes in customer expectations that have unfolded in parallel. 

From a cross-regional perspective, there’s been a 7-year increase in the rate at which companies are developing these technologies. Look to developed regions in Asia, and you’ll see a leap in 10 years. In particular, industries like financial services and pharma have seen the highest increases.  

But it’s been the speed that has, perhaps, been the most remarkable. In fact, respondents reported that their companies acted 20 to 25 times faster in many instances of change than expected. Companies that usually took years to implement new solutions acted in a manner of weeks, even days showing just what’s possible when needs must.

The crisis broke down barriers and created a sense of urgency, previously unfelt when it came to developing digital solutions. Now that consumers are used to shopping and interacting online, there’s even greater incentive to expand on these initiatives.

A shifting consumer landscape 

Among the changes respondents were asked to report on in the survey, customer needs and preferences saw some of the most significant shifts. As mentioned before, the pandemic has reshaped the way we go about our lives, shop, and conduct business, leading to many key changes. Some of the trends that have emerged as a result of Covid are:

A surge in online shopping – After the outbreak forced millions indoors, the UK public traded in their shopping trolleys for trolley icons. People turned online to complete their weekly food shops, clothing hauls, home improvements, and more. According to Statista, over 75% of UK consumers  claim to be shopping online, up from 40% at the end of March 2020. 

This just goes to show just how much consumers have embraced e-commerce and contactless payment, and that adoption of these methods and channels are here for the long run.

A pick up in delivery and collection services – Along with an increase in online shopping came an uptick in the use of delivery and collection services. Of course, these services go hand-in-hand with online shopping but we can see particular disruption in industries such as grocery shopping.

Acceleration of online streaming – As more physical forms of entertainment became largely inaccessible due to the virus, online streaming exploded. In fact, YouGov found that one in two Brits are now paying for multiple streaming services, a trend they believe is likely to continue post-pandemic. Even cinema-goers are now opting to view blockbusters at home on the small screen with streaming services such as HBO Max.  

An increase in value-based purchasing and ‘love for local’– Other trends within consumer behaviour point to an increase in value-based purchases – that is the purchase of goods and services that offer maximum value for money spent. This ties into a growing desire to shop more locally and support small businesses like neighbourhood cafes or florists. 

It’s all about Tech-centric strategy

Changing consumer expectations may be driving digitisation across all companies and sectors, but it’s the companies embracing a tech-driven strategy that are really winning out. Companies that are not only experimenting with digital technology but taking digital investment seriously are seeing the highest growth in revenues and are likely to see this continue in the long run. 

Bringing it all together

Much of the digital progress we’ve seen at companies throughout the pandemic has been down to rapid crisis response. However, shifts in customer expectations show that these changes are here for the long run. 

A lot of the digital initiatives we’ve seen develop during this time are down to a refocus of company resources instead of true product development. And that’s where we come in.

The only way to truly lock in digital gains over the long-term is through tried, tested and sound product development. We help you build a precise picture of your customers wants, motivations and challenges so you can identify the right opportunities to act on. 

Our expertise in UX strategy and innovation allows us to develop digital solutions taking you all the way from initial proposition to fully-fledged product. It’s what’s helped us solve big challenges for industry leaders such as Johnson&Johnson and Allianz, though we work with companies of all sizes. 

Product development is the future of digital strategy and something you’ll want to implement at your company if you don’t want to get left behind. If you’re looking to learn more, then our practitioners are here to help. There’s no sales pitch and no pressure, just helpful information to get started on your next digital journey.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

Articles: 107

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