For the past several weeks, we’ve been chronicling movement as it pertains to branch and storefront closures, and subsequent openings. We’ve spoken with experts, provided advice, and put relevant solutions out into the market.
At the same time, we’ve been working closely with customers and prospects, helping them to connect to customers in challenging times, supporting them as they accelerate customer engagement initiatives, and listening to their requirements as they combat a new business landscape. In the midst of it all, we pause, and offer our own thoughts on what impact this pandemic is having on us, on our customers, on our futures.
Workforce of the future
2020/21 will be the year "workforce of the future" comes into sharp focus in the boardroom. Emerging technologies will present an undeniable opportunity for organisations to truly innovate and empower their people. Forward thinking executives will take stock, and reflect on recent events, and deep dive into the impact COVID has had on their ability to truly engage with their people and customers, whilst also seeking to responsibly limit operational overheads. The new workforce "norm" will be a fluid evolution, as businesses grapple with the short, medium, and long term implications of remote working in these unprecedented (yes, I said unprecedented!) times.
Social issues such as family, climate change, mental health, and education will take on heightened meaning when defining what cultural values a business places on its future workforce strategy. Boardrooms will embrace these ideas, and overlay shareholder accountability to ensure it continues to find creative ways to provide customer continuity across all channels, whilst promoting and adopting creative ways to offer points of market differentiation. With a (physically) fragmented workforce endorsed, IT and Business Continuity will become a critical supporting agent to ensure that the "workforce of the future" is well supported to excel now and into the future.
Jonathon Coleman, General Manager, Asia-Pacific
Always support the customer
Customers do not forget.
They might be maintaining your relationship now, because changing suppliers is not their priority. But how you’ve treated them during this time will affect what happens to your relationship in the future.
If you were proactive, consultative, and helpful, the chances are you’ll have a more successful partnership for the long term.
If you were absent, difficult, and inconsiderate of their needs, the likelihood is that they won’t be your customer for much longer, unless there really is no way to go elsewhere.
There will be little “down the middle,” time to reflect on a need in crisis will mean most customers will make a decisive view on their supplier then do something about it when the time is right for them (not you).
HJ Cone, Chief Customer Officer
The impact on workforce
The globalisation of technical teams will increase in pace as the barriers to remote workforces (processes, tools, and culture) will diminish as companies adapt to the impact of COVID-19.
On top of this, declining economic growth will add fuel to the fire, as companies will seek cost savings to offset the impact to their bottom line, providing opportunities for developing countries to take advantage of these changing trends.
Joel Sturmfels, Head of Technology
COVID-19 has crept into every aspect of life
- Many businesses will question the value in renting large offices when they have found working from home to work well.
- Tools specifically designed to further enhance and enable the work from home experience will become a growth sector.
- An inevitable wave of no win, no fee legal services will emerge relating to claims of unfair dismissal due to COVID-19.
- Fewer people will commute, further increasing financial pressures on rail companies leading to less services and high ticket prices.
- Oil companies and motor manufacturers of non-electric vehicles will struggle as governments try to balance increased pressure to use this inflection point to adopt a green agenda versus the need to kick-start their economies and manufacturing sectors.
- The tragic loss of so many people and the inability of loved ones to be with their relatives at the time of passing, will drive a significant increased demand for mental health support.
- In the UK, years of under investment in the NHS will be reversed in the short term to avoid other political parties capitalising on this vote winner.
- There will be many more calls for Amazon to be broken up on the grounds of monopoly.
- Data collected by governments and big business in the name of fighting infections, will be found to have been put to purposes not explicitly stated to users at time of consent. The benefit of holding such an insightful data set is sufficiently overwhelming to make companies like Google and Apple collaborate. These moves tick both marketing and data acquisition objectives and are likely to get a green light with substantially less scrutiny than at any other time in the last decade.
- Many will question whether their room full of toilet paper, rice, and dried pasta would not be more useful as a guest room.
Simon Copsey, CTO
New speed bumps in the path to purchase
“Fear” has been introduced into the path to purchase, heightening one of the key elements retailers try to manage when driving footfall and repeat business: “Angst” retailers are looking for guidance to overcome this new complex obstacle.
There is a tremendous amount of reprioritizing going on with both the consumer and the retailers. This uncertainty will drive a lot of learning activity. As an example, we’ll need to understand the new drivers for consumer purchase habits:
- Decision Trees, Segmentations, Consumer Interaction Data Analysis, etc. (e.g.- how much does delivery weight into your decision now and will it impact the way you shop going forward)
- Brand/Retail- “Safety”- Thought Leadership is a new “lever” for competing - e.g.: What are the things consumers are looking to their retailers for, to keep them safe?
Economic uncertainty will drive the need for communication in the sector between financial institutions and its consumers.
Healthcare organizations will need to confront the fact that people are afraid to go to their facilities because they feel they will catch COVID. This lends itself to new solutions including remote consultations and curbside consultations/testing.
Ed Carroll, Vice President, Sales
And what of a new normal?
There will be a fear of returning to the “old normal”, whether that’s a reticence to embrace public transport, an unwillingness to spend leisure time in cinemas or shopping centres, or a desire to work from home full-time. The “new normal” will mean technology is more embraced, you speak to your family more often, and the sense of community has deepened through both neighbourliness and staying local.
Working from home will become a more accepted practise, leading to decentralisation from large cities, a redistribution of wealth, and change to the location of disposable income.
Large government projects (such as HS2, a scheme to bring faster rail links between the north of England and London) will get scrapped as a result of less need to come to London, and to make up the huge hole in the government finances.This will also result in a higher tax burden across the board, especially on higher earners, for a long time.
The housing market, especially in larger cities, will initially see stagnation as people delay their moves, leading to pressure on construction companies and related supply chains, and subsequent pressure on the consumer spend chain and significant taxes to the government. However, home improvement and DIY will become increasingly popular and eventually the housing market will get going again.
Eating habits and types of groceries bought will be changed, as we have become a world of better home cooks who have more time to experiment.
And finally, things might be difficult for a while, so I suspect people will want to save up for a bumper Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, or other festival they might celebrate towards the back-end of 2020.
HJ Cone, Chief Customer Officer
A new kind of pride
News of a work at home order was a little shocking, and after the first hundred or so video calls, you had to wonder how long you could keep it up. But this new working environment has brought out a new pride, a new energy, and a new drive toward productivity. There’s pride in a team who has communicated at new levels and created some really great work; there’s pride in management for steering the ship in the right direction and making everyone feel like they’re part of the journey, and there’s pride in my colleagues, who in the most trying of circumstances leverage their collective senses of humor and purpose every single day. I’m hoping this collaborative spirit will become part of our new environment.
Nancy Liberman, Vice President, Marketing
COVID-19 will have an impact on the world in more ways that we can anticipate. The learnings we gain will allow us to be more prepared, and the personal impact will make us more grateful, appreciative, and respectful to the people we love, and the earth where we live.
Amy MacIsaac, Vice President, Partnerships