March 24, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our personal and professional lives on a variety of levels. Alongside grave concerns for the health and safety of our relatives and friends, many of us have been watching the state of the global economy with growing alarm. Some industries were hit immediately, with blows almost too powerful to take—Computer Economics compiled an overview of the pandemic’s current impact on business. In search of more direct insight into how businesses can and are adapting, we reached out to our clients, most of whom work in managerial positions across a number of industries.
This post is a work in progress—we hope that as we collect more feedback and insights, the dossier will become an even greater help to you in mitigating current risks and identifying potential opportunities. So please check back regularly for updates.
The food service industry has been among the most severely affected—in many countries across the world, safety measures included a shuttering of all of the restaurants, bars, and cafés, which forced them to move to a solely delivery-based business model.
Some quickly found their bearings in the new reality, like Pizza Hut, which swiftly introduced a contact-free pizza delivery feature that completely eliminated the need for human contact, making its service one of the safest ways of getting food during quarantine.
First and foremost, it seems that contact-free delivery options (from both restaurants and grocery stores) will dominate the foreseeable future. Many businesses have already embraced delivery technology, which has allowed them to both stay afloat and help people in quarantine stay safe.
Deliveroo's CEO announcing contact-free delivery.
Companies that offer food delivery services, like Uber, are observing a huge increase in demand. Others, Lyft chief among them, are exploring their options, including tasking their drivers with delivering food and medical supplies.
Many banks and fintech companies switched to working remotely soon after the crisis began to unfold. Although the majority of the industry is still relatively functional, client behavior has changed drastically. In times like these, when uncertainty is rampant and international travel is restricted or outright banned, businesses and personal finances are usually greatly affected, as people tend to get very cautious with their finances and avoid investments.
Can fintech companies respond to the outbreak with ideas and innovation, and can they in any way help their customers alleviate the impact of COVID-19?
As the crisis takes its toll on the global economy, we’ve been observing fintech products taking on increasingly important roles in safeguarding the finances of both individuals and businesses.
With banks closing branches and cutting staff hours, clients in need of continued services quickly moved to online platforms. Online, contact-free, cashless payments have been recognized and endorsed by the WHO as the safest option to pay for goods and services while under quarantine. And blockchain technology was harnessed to efficiently manage medical data.
There’s no way to answer this question with any degree of certainty as the situation remains fluid. While some types of fintech products are growing in demand, others, like Visa and MasterCard, are facing a rapid slowdown in their cross-border business due to a significant drop in travel-related spending. The coronavirus pandemic also poses a considerable risk to companies like Square, which process payments for businesses in outbreak-affected industries, especially food service establishments.
Fintech products that strengthen social ties and foster solidarity may indeed be in the best position right now to showcase their utility.
For example, Givedirectly - a leading global NGO specialized in delivering digital cash transfers, is responding to the crisis by introducing a new feature that lets people send funds to people in the USA who were hit by the economic effects of COVID-19.
Like most sectors, HR will need to adapt to the current situation. With most people working from home and company communications moving online, businesses all over the world are looking to leverage remote-work technologies to their benefit.
Our team is in a unique position to support many businesses making the transition to remote work. Keeping the good spirit and motivation up is now more important than ever. We're helping companies adapt to remote work by showing them how to engage with employees, take care of their well-being, and how to maintain proper communication.John Duisberg Co-founder at Cooleaf
HR resources enabling online talent acquisition, interviewing and onboarding have been growing increasingly popular over the past weeks, as they allow companies to maintain continuity of operations. Some solutions, like video conferencing platform Zoom.us, have already noted a marked growth in demand, with their shares doubling in price since the start of the outbreak. Zoom is also fast becoming indispensable to education, as teachers worldwide adopt it to hold classes online.
Other platforms that support organizations in fighting the challenges resulting from the shift to remote work, including communication apps like Slack or project management suites like Jira, have seen a similar growth in demand across the globe.
The air travel and hospitality industries have been hit the hardest, as countries across Europe have either closed their borders or at least introduced extensive safety measures intended to curb movement, including total or partial restrictions on air travel. With rail and marine connections also curtailed, people who need to travel mainly opt for cars.
At this point, it’s hard to foresee how the future will unfold and when the outbreak will peak and begin to subside. Some predictions point to late April or early May, but the timeline will change along with the public response to the crisis. In such uncertain times, car and car-related services are the best bet for the travel industry.
Contactless parking apps like Admyt and journey planners like fromAtoB are still seeing steady growth. On the other hand, however, service stations and repair shops see much less traffic than usual. While hotels and airlines took comparable hits, software solutions for inventory management are still seeing some interest. The industry is still trying to find its footing, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on any developments—the next few weeks will be crucial.
At first, it seemed that the outbreak would have a considerable, adverse impact on this sector because most legal consultants travel a lot on a daily basis. So far, however, everything seems to be running relatively smoothly. Some of the on-site consulting assessments and meetings moved online, and much of the work that legal consultants perform can happen anywhere, not necessarily in an office. Online consulting companies like Afriwise may be in a good position in the industry. They recently added a new module with updated legislation that helps members of the African community stay updated on the legal and commercial implications of COVID-19.
That being said, the sector is experiencing a slowdown. To what extent will the outbreak affect legal consultancy firms is yet to be determined, primarily by how long the pandemic will endure. Some efforts and resources may be moved to the cloud, but there is currently no good replacement or substitute for tasks that require the on-site presence of a consultant (like live assessments or collecting in-depth information from various departments).
We made the strategic decision to continue pushing software development during these times, so we’re in a good competitive position as soon as the economy gets back to normal.Lukas Gutwinski Managing Director at
Finding a way to deal with these limitations will be a major opportunity in this sector.
While many events were either postponed or outright canceled, a lot of them moved online. From online conferencing to live gigs, technology helps people interested in different events gather without breaking quarantine.
Event organizers can avail themselves of a variety of resources to cope with what will definitely be a very difficult period for the industry. Guild called on event organizers worldwide to join their #CREO group, where they can support each other and share useful tips and tools.
Are you an event organiser? #CREO is a free peer support group of >200 professional members with open access resources to help you handle the impact of #Coronavirus https://t.co/aySgPCSzyH #EventProf #EventTech— Guild (@tryGuild) March 10, 2020
The biggest opportunities for the industry will be organizing events online and securing additional revenue streams through channels like Seat Unique.
Perversely, with everything going on, we're looking for new opportunities and ways to help our partners prepare for the return of live events. By providing all with our innovative software, we strongly believe this will help prepare them for the resurgence of demand for future events and will allow VIP tickets and hospitality packages to be purchased online 24/7.Phillipa Hicks Sales & Marketing Director and Co-founder
at Seat Unique
Because the real estate market has a relatively high inertia to it, property prices are still on the rise. Only long-term trends affect this industry in any noticeable manner, and we still don’t know what the future will look like.
However, the proptech sector needs to start adjusting right now. Even if construction work resumes on currently halted projects and new space becomes available, the fact remains that the current crisis emptied basically all of the space already available. People moved to work from homes, rather than from offices, and prospective buyers or lessees are barred from visiting property listings in person.
Opportunities here are primarily in the virtualization of contact with customers. Morizon.pl, a proptech firm specializing in helping people find the perfect place to rent or buy, made its first tentative steps down that road, with some assistance from Monterail. They began offering video tours for their listings, giving customers an opportunity to continue looking for their perfect property and allowing Morizon to continue its core operations without taking significant losses and to pull ahead of the competition while doing so.
Some sectors are in a more difficult situation than others, but uncertainty seems to be more pervasive than any permanent damage. It is highly likely that we’re in for a widespread economic slowdown, but for now, we need to remember that predictions are not certainties.
The best thing businesses can do right now is look for opportunities to adapt. Most of those opportunities will be driven by technology, as it allows for continuity of operations with minimum human contact.
People are taking the crisis rather well, reacting swiftly to change and making considerable efforts to share valuable knowledge and ideas. For some of us, this might be the best time to innovate, try new things, and introduce business ideas that we’ve put on the back burner long ago.
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