4 Lessons for the tech industry after COVID
Needs to be more adaptive and prioritize pursuing products and ideas that are easy to use, in demand and profitable
Much like everything else, the coronavirus pandemic has turned the tech industry on its head. From widespread lockdowns and adapting to working from home, to rapidly changing market needs — the tech industry has had to keep pace with major changes. These are four of the key lessons for the tech industry to take onboard after COVID.
Pretty much overnight, the world’s priorities, needs, and requirements drastically changed. As the virus spread like wildfire and countries went into various levels of lockdown many tech businesses found their products and what they were working on was no longer relevant.
Over the past few months, large numbers of companies have adapted and refocused their efforts towards manufacturing, sourcing or distributing some of the key equipment and resources that were in short supply. They started to pitch in with everything from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), respiratory equipment parts, to hand sanitizer, helping with research into the virus, and developing track and trace software.
Adapted quickly during pandemic
And while not all of this was to make a profit (many companies volunteered their resources or services for free), companies that have adapted quickly during the pandemic are going to come out of it stronger. One of the key lessons for the tech industry is that they need to be prepared to adapt their products and their future plans. Aside from the specific resources needed to fight the pandemic, there has been growth in a number of other industries that tech companies should be looking to take advantage of.
With most physical stores shut, online shopping has skyrocketed so there’s an increased demand for tech to help e-commerce businesses. And as more companies are now working remotely, cloud computing solutions and online security are also key areas that tech companies could focus on. It’s unlikely that the world will go back to the same as it was pre-COVID. So it’s important for the tech industry to learn how to react quickly to changing market conditions and adapt their business focus.
Tech needs to be accessible
The industries that have seen the biggest growth during COVID utilize accessible, easy-to-use tech. E-commerce is the perfect example: new sellers in particular have been able to thrive by leaning on easy-to-use tools to create mobile-friendly websites and great apps with social-media shopping functionality. These tools aren’t newly developed to accommodate the demands of lockdown life. They’ve been around for years: Mobiloud (a company that provides a code-free tool for generating progressive web apps from WordPress sites) was founded in 2012, and e-comm giant Shopify launched its enduring store design tool all the way back in 2006.
More niche technology becomes harder to sell when there’s economic uncertainty, so it’s important to focus on making tech products that are accessible and in demand. Start with a simple concept and product, and add in more complex functionality over time, as and when there’s a need for it.
People are also looking for the more human side of companies post-COVID. With a lot of focus on supporting local businesses during the pandemic, tech companies need to make sure they don’t appear like a faceless corporation. Make your business more approachable by using social media and blog posts to share less formal, tech-focused updates. This will help make it easier to connect with customers and investors.
It’s easy for those in the tech industry to get wrapped up in development – but after COVID it’s going to be important to make your products more accessible and engage with your target market more.
Working need to be more flexible
COVID lockdowns forced the majority of people to pack up their offices and work from home. The tech industry, perhaps surprisingly, was largely unprepared for remote working. Companies have had to learn how to communicate online, and find ways in which to collaborate on projects and continue development while working apart. Those that have been most successful have used project management software and relied heavily on communication tools like Slack.
It’s going to be a long time before the world is back to normal, and most workplaces are going to have to adapt their space to allow for distancing so it makes sense to allow remote working to continue. For a lot of employees they have found remote working is actually more productive. It’s also made big strides in breaking down the geographical restrictions of working together with others in the industry. The move towards online working has meant people can collaborate on projects with others all over the world. And better communications has led to work progressing quicker.
Going forward the tech industry needs to learn how to make these makeshift remote working setups become more permanent. Working from home allows the tech industry to be far more flexible and will make it more resilient to future issues.
Contingency plans are essential
While many of the large organizations and companies in the tech industry have faced economic downturns before, the complete shutdown we’ve experienced in the last few months has been unprecedented. Even well established businesses have found themselves underprepared for a global pandemic.
Solid contingency plans are more important than ever before, this will include looking at more ways to optimize business operations, future proof plans, and better business intelligence. Tech startups who were on the verge of funding pre-COVID are likely to have struggled or failed. In the future they’ll look to have more funding behind them and a bigger cash runway to support them through similar situations.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer and small business owner.