The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on all of our lives, both personal and professional. As a digital agency and software development company, we’ve been able to adapt pretty well to the changes and, for the most part, the business has continued running as usual.
With many businesses facing tough times, we recognise that we are fortunate and are grateful that circumstances have allowed us to continue uninterrupted. We’re very aware that many industries and sectors, those that rely on customers coming to physical premises have not been able to fair as well.
Part of ours, and other businesses ability to adapt has been the very recent technology changes that have occurred. If the pandemic had happened only five or ten years earlier, we would probably not have coped as well.
Video conferencing, the adoption of Zoom and Microsoft Teams
Whilst in our personal lives, we’ve been using FaceTime and WhatsApp for one-to-one video conversations – video conferencing between groups has been less widely embraced. During the lockdown, it has gained widespread adoption. Older, more established services of the workplace such as Web-Ex, Google Hangouts and Skype, have been usurped by relative newcomers such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams – and we, of course, have to mention Slack (https://www.slack.com). In Zoom’s case, it has seen an explosion of attention and this has been reflected in its meteoric share price rise. (rising almost 400% YTD)
As businesses have found ways to communicate more effectively with their staff, Zoom has come into our personal lives too, and in the process become a household name. Our children are using Zoom for schooling, music lessons and for group socialising. With friends and family, a visit to the pub has been replaced – albeit temporarily – with online social meetings instead. Maybe more importantly, for older members of the family, these technologies are providing a valuable lifeline, with much-needed contact with friends and relatives whilst shielding from the virus.
What’s for sure is, we’ve adapted and quickly embraced new ways of communicating with one another. A sure sign that a technology has been broadly adopted, is when its brand name becomes a verb, and more recently we’ve noticed people switching the word “call” with “Zoom”; “Zoom me when you’re ready” or “I’ll Zoom you” – This product now sits in quite an exclusive club occupied by the likes of Hoover and Google. (Hoovering, Googling).
The big one! Cash is king, or so it used to be. As mobile and contactless payments take over, we’re handling cash, less and less – in the pandemic, this can only be a good thing. According to some statistics, Coronavirus has rapidly hastened the decline of cash, with cash machine withdrawals falling as much as 60% during the lockdown. (1)
Virtual Tours and Property Photography
Back in the business world, our clients are adapting too. Perhaps the most demand for innovation has come from the property sector, where we have a number of clients. Having the ability to sell flats and houses in lockdown has been a massive challenge.
These challenges have mostly been met with the introduction or increased use of virtual tours, guided videos and interactive property photography. There are some fantastic solutions out there, and we were really pleased to find many innovative solutions, that are really immersive, easy-to-use and really give a realistic experience of what the property is like.
Customers have been able to visit, explore and, in some cases, purchase property all from the comfort of their own home. The convenience of these experiences have really proved their worth and will continue to prove a useful convenience for the customers of these property developers even after the lockdown has lifted.
Educational impact – Virtual Graduation Shows
Lastly, Perhaps some of the most disruptions has been on students, who in March were preparing for finals, exams and in some cases graduation. In the case of the University of the Creative Arts, this final piece presented a real challenge.
The UCA holds their yearly graduation show in May to showcase all of the creative work that the graduating students produce for their year-end projects. These have traditionally been held on one of the many campus locations. This year has clearly been different with lockdown coming into effect at the end of March.
With a plan to offer an online experience for student showcases already in the planning stages, and in light of the new realities, we worked together to put more focus on the project and bring the virtual graduation show website and showcase platform to life.
As of June, the project is now completed and has enabled over 850 students to showcase their amazing creative work which has been seen by tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, a much larger audience than could be achieved on the physical premises!
See our latest news article on this project for more details here UCA Virtual Graduation and Open Day launch
Innovation and adaptation is alive and kicking, the challenges imposed by the lockdown will are being overcome by in many creative ways, we will continue to adapt and evolve.
For more information on how your business can thrive online, feel free to get in touch.
References: (1) Decline of cash – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52455706