By Natasha Bougourd.
When the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed, much of the focus is on the impact on the economy and our physical and mental health.
While many businesses have suffered, others have flourished – exercise equipment, homeware, DIY, and gardening retailers, amongst others. When it comes to business-to-business, technology providers, e-commerce sites, video conferencing software solutions, and healthcare providers led the way. So did the companies who tapped into their services.
There’s a common theme: the successful adoption of technology.
Accelerated technology adoption
Many businesses were unprepared for the shift to digitalisation the work-from-home order caused. Those that were ready were ahead of the game.
A global McKinsey survey of business executives in 2020 found that businesses fast-tracked their long-term digitisation plans by three or four years and sped up the digitisation of their products and services by seven years. Senior executives are recognising technology as an essential element of their businesses.
Reaping the rewards of digital
The McKinsey survey shows 92 per cent of business leaders knew prior to the pandemic that their business model needed to be digital-first to keep up with the competition, and that the pandemic “just put that whole scenario on steroids.”
The haulage and logistics sector has experienced an increased demand thanks to the acceleration of online shopping.
Home delivery specialist BJS Haulage adopted digital to ensure it could manage this growth effectively. The business had expanded its fleet of lorries and updated its back-office systems to support diversification into the general haulage market.
The company implemented a transport management system, a sector-specific digital solution that gives hauliers real-time visibility of their operations and in-progress deliveries and supports processes from order to invoicing. The ability to manage load planning and offer customers visibility of their deliveries has dramatically reduced the volume of calls the business received from clients requesting updates. The business also eliminated manual paperwork and duplicated data entry thanks to switching to a transport management and app-based proof of delivery process.
Spotify was seemingly well-placed when the pandemic hit – a fully digital business with subscribers’ increased free time to log on. However, its customer base was primarily non-paying users whereas Apple Music and Tidal don’t offer a free service. Many of Spotify’s advertisers also reduced their budgets in the face of the pandemic.
Spotify turned to the production of original content, offering exclusive podcasts and seeing over 150,000 podcasts uploaded in April 2020 alone. Spotify was positioned as a broad audio platform, poaching The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular online podcasts, from competitor Apple.
The business increased its paid subscribers by 34 million between March and December 2020 to 155 million without raising its subscription prices.
What can we learn?
In these difficult times, it’s natural for businesses to look at cost-cutting measures. Strategic investments in digital are the key to success in difficult times, but there’s no “one size fits all” approach.
BJS Haulage, meanwhile, proved that digital doesn’t have to be flashy. Implementing a tailored back-office solution might not seem like the most exciting use of digital. However, it’s the best way to implement transformative solutions by meeting critical business needs. Spotify, meanwhile, highlights the importance of not standing still, gaining an edge in an increasingly competitive market.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses, it’s that digital is now essential to survival.
Natasha Bougourd is a content writer for Mandata, based in the North East of England. A graduate of Sunderland University, Natasha has a wealth of experience writing content in the areas of business and finance.