Food for Thought: After Covid, then what?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, four industry leaders and marketers share their experiences so far and venture some thoughts on what things will be like after the crisis

Fi Taylor
Fi Taylor
  • Fi Taylor
  • Kartik Srinivasan
  • Janice Jao
  • Vivienne Horsfall
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Vivienne Horsfall
Marketing manager, Ping Identity

One of the key shifts that will outlive COVID-19 is the manner in which an organisation's workforce and customers engage. No longer will a business be bound or defined by bricks and mortar.

Vivienne HorsfallCredit: Vivienne Horsfall
Vivienne Horsfall

What has COVID-19 changed things for the better or for the worse?

The transition to doing everything over video conferencing has meant a complete pivot in activities from live to virtual events. The result has been pleasantly surprising. The virtual environment not only enables the continued sharing of ideas between a vendor and its customers but has also opened up the opportunity for the roundtable concept making it easier for those who find travel difficult and for both local and international executives to attend. Virtual events have increased the depth of communication. Going forward, marketing programs will become hybrid with a combination of video and live events. 

How has COVID-19 disrupted the 2020 plans?

The digital customer engagement has changed. Online competition has increased as have cybersecurity breaches. Moving forward, for an organisation to compete they must offer a one-to-one personalised service, from the acquisition and registration process, right through the customer journey. This includes providing true consent management and data governance as to what information can be shared and with whom a tick in the box will no longer be enough.

The importance of getting identity right whether it be for your workforce or customer marketing outreach has been brought to the forefront by COVID-19 and it will most certainly outlive it. Ultimately, the customer remains king. Thanks in part to information mobility and the new channels offered by social media, consumers are taking charge of their relationships with business, rewarding companies that display an almost obsessive commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

What does normal look like now?

When markets experience a major shake-up, the old order is thrown into disarray. New opportunities, new contenders and new leaders inevitably emerge. This is what we are beginning to see now. The realisation that nobody owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment, signals a fundamental change in the way businesses operate.Companies that thrive in this environment will be those who focus on knowing what their customers desire and who innovate to deliver it, even before the customer is aware of the need.

Janice Jao
Product designer, Appetiser Apps

COVID-19 has pushed society into a new form of living where what was once normal, is now a thing of the past. Due to how quickly the virus spreads and is transmitted to humans, governments have been thrust into making difficult decisions to manage and hopefully eliminate the virus completely.

This has led innovators to build a contact tracing app that lets users mark themselves when they become infected therefore allowing officials to track and trace where and how the virus is spreading. The technology behind the contact tracing app could potentially outlive COVD-19 for many reasons. There are many product ideas that could benefit from such a technology such as real-time tracking of luxury online purchases, the delivery of high-importance documents or urgent delivery of scripts and pharmaceuticals.

Janice JaoCredit: Janice Jao
Janice Jao

What has COVID-19 changed for the better or for the worse?

COVID-19 has suddenly raised the demand for virtual connections at a significant rate. In a positive way, this has opened the world to a concept potentially disregarded in the traditional day to day, which is the ability to work from home. This is beneficial to working parents who need to raise their children in a good environment and for individuals who wish to live a less restrictive lifestyle.

The world’s eyes have been opened. We now know that many jobs can be done anywhere at any time as long as they have an internet connection.

On the other hand, we also have now been driven to look at screens even more, raising the demands for more apps and the use of social media as if we don’t already spend too much time on it. Where once we were able to balance the ‘real-life’ and our digital lives better, many people’s habits are now being molded into being stuck on a screen even more.  

How has COVID-19 disrupted the 2020 plans?

COVID-19 has shaken the world up and destroyed literally every 2020 plan. One of the biggest disruptions COVID-19 has caused is in the sharing economy. Companies like Airbnb and Uber have suffered tremendous losses since traveling has been made almost impossible in this pandemic. 

What were once lucrative businesses in their traditional formats, have now been driven to innovate and adapt - much like many other businesses, big and small - to the current situation. We have seen UberEats expand to non-traditional delivery services from supermarkets to pharmaceuticals, and many local cafes and restaurants offering at-home delivery where they may not have offered this before. Many businesses have been exposed to severe cases of ‘sink or swim’ and successfully changed their business models for the better, changes which they may stick with permanently.

What does normal look like now?

The new normal has turned into staring at screens for longer periods of time. Tech companies are now responsible for designing for humans whose sense of freedom has been greatly affected by enforced lockdowns. They have been given the challenge of replacing and imitating these human interactions in a bid to either increase loyalty and advocacy of their brands, to increase their sales or to take a more ethical approach in preventing potential negative outcomes of the current digital phase. 

The ‘new normal’ is now also remote. While some people may be many desperate to get back into schools, offices and shops, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on footfall on the whole, especially where tourism has been hit, which could take years to recover. Businesses need to find innovative ways to make things work and to keep customers engaged face to face, but also from a distance.

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