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Understanding the ‘next normal’ for businesses

Which trends accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic are here to stay? Moneypenny explores some of the businesses set to thrive in the digital era

The coronavirus pandemic has fired a starting gun for the acceleration of various trends and necessitated distant business plans to be hurriedly activated. E-commerce companies, automated software services, healthtech businesses, videoconferencing, communications platforms, and other organisations facilitating remote working are among the big winners.

But which innovations embraced en masse since March 2020 are here to stay? Conversely what will prove to be a lockdown-induced fad? Have we had our fill of virtual drinks, online quizzes and expensive cook-it-yourself restaurant kits?

Moneypenny, the leading outsourced communications provider will explore some of the business lessons from 2020 and beyond looking at organisations and companies that have thrived and, moreover, look set to succeed in the long term.

Online events platform Hopin, for example, has brought work colleagues together remotely with tools for virtual talks and networking. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Workplace by Facebook, plus many similar videoconferencing and digital collaboration tools providers have also triumphed.

And as businesses start to re-open their workplaces, it will be fascinating to glean insights from the likes of Vpod, provider of next-level visitor management systems. Moneypenny recently collaborated with London-based Vpod to offer businesses dedicated video front-of-house and concierge support for the first time. Moneypenny’s video-based support will be added to Vpod’s Vgreet product: a virtual reception that offers a contactless check in and reduces visitor management costs.

Meeting rising customer expectations

While it may be unclear what the “next normal” will look and feel like exactly, we can start to make a decent, educated guess: because the direction of travel is clear. There is little doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has catapulted businesses into the digital era, but comfort, convenience and communication will all play even greater roles than before.

To adapt, progressive leaders seek more technology-driven solutions and are now more open-minded about outsourcing certain aspects, including communications, to better meet ever-rising customer demand. We can thank leading organisations like Amazon for that, raising the level of expectation to have things delivered by a simple couple of clicks on a device as soon as is humanly – or even robotically – possible.

Certainly, the retail landscape has evolved, and e-commerce has boomed.

In the United Kingdom, the latest Office for National Statistics figures, published in late January, highlight that online sales surged by 46 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year. Looking deeper at the data, online food sales enjoyed the most significant uptick given the context offered by months of lockdown, growing by 79.3 per cent.

As a December ONS report noted: “The 2008 recession had a smaller impact than the COVID-19 pandemic on individual industries and the economy … Services such as hospitality – including pubs, restaurants and hotels – recorded almost no output in April and May, but industries such as information and communication, where staff could largely work from home, saw little change compared with February.”

Collaborating and sharing expert insights in the digital era

Accommodation and foodservice activities were 90 per cent smaller than a year earlier, according to the ONS. Will these industries recover, albeit in evolved forms, because of the vaccine roll out?

It’s clear that to keep up with customer and client expectations, technology solutions are no longer a “nice to have” – as perhaps they were 12 months ago – but business-critical.

Forward-thinking decision-makers have shifted their mindset. They realise that much in the same way servers and data have migrated to the cloud, collaboration with trusted partners and utilising the services of skilled experts and technology services in the outsourcing world makes best business sense on several levels.

The mass move to remote working has changed the way we interact with one another, and the rise of videoconferencing and walking meetings, and so on, have paved the way for businesses to engage both employees and customers in different and exciting ways.

For businesses determined to grow in the digital era, it is vital to invest in new forms of communication – but could nuance and the human touch be lost? Building trust – with customers, staff, and other stakeholders – is still imperative.

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