Manish Mittal is Founder and CEO at OpenSource Technologies, which provides software consultancy and custom web and mobile app solutions.
After 2020, the landscape of work processes changed forever. The work software we use and our prevailing attitudes about working from home have shifted significantly following a year of isolation and challenging lessons for both organizations and employees. So, if simply going back to offices and using the same programs we used before is no longer realistic, what’s the future look like for companies?
Although they don’t invest in physical software as much as they once did, organizations are now more willing to spend on “software solutions,” which are not the same as desktop apps. Hardware and desktop apps previously made up the bulk of corporate software spending.
But, today, in no small part due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, companies are moving toward software that employees and partners can access on the cloud. The shift toward investing in internet-accessible software for productivity, sales, reporting and various other activities has followed statistical trends such as the 57% increase in collaboration tools and 67% increase in web conferencing software in 2020.
First, let’s take a look at how the pandemic shifted the needs and priorities of businesses on a practical level. Responding to these needs, companies are moving toward technology more than ever before.
A Shifting Work Culture
During 2020 and into 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic made business-as-usual impossible for most companies, regardless of size or industry. Employees could no longer visit offices in person for a significant period, yet companies had to continue to operate or risk massive losses, or even shutdowns. Widespread employee shortages also contributed to the need for solutions and adaptations to survive the changing landscape.
Attitudes toward working have changed to the point that going back to offices can no longer be considered mandatory the way it once was. Pre-shutdown, only a limited number of companies allowed working from home, and this was usually only extended to employees who had long tenures or substantial extenuating circumstances.
Now, working from home and hybrid working have expanded in popularity to the benefit of many employees, making an equitable work-life balance more realistic. But work culture isn’t the only thing that the pandemic shifted.
Web-Based Software Solutions
Before 2020, face-to-face business and lead creation remained a steadfast piece of the global revenue pie. But since the pandemic, work culture has shifted online. The rise in company web-app usage (one notable example being Zoom) portends more web-based software solution spending increases.
Compatible on all devices with browsers and app stores, lightweight web software made working from home easier for employees who can open and use these apps anywhere and still complete the bulk of their work tasks. Moving forward, web-based software could lead the future of working anywhere. In recent times, the following software types have gained traction and popularity:
1. Contactless Payment Solutions
The pandemic led to an increase in the use of contactless payment solutions. Contactless payments gained traction due to the need to minimize physical contact and maintain social distancing. The findings of an RTi Research survey conducted in mid-March 2020 found that about 30% of the respondents were using contactless payment solutions. And around 70% of those users indicated they were likely to continue using the solutions post-Covid-19.
2. E-Commerce Platforms
During the pandemic, these channels represented the revenue stream for retail, beauty, food, health and service companies. Moving sales online became advantageous for businesses due to e-commerce’s accessibility and flexibility. Customers couldn’t perform face-to-face interactions in physical stores or with sales teams. Online work solutions were once a luxury and are now necessary; they became mandatory to engage with customers and increase revenue during the pandemic.
It’s been estimated that consumers worldwide spent about $4.29 trillion online in 2020, increasing from $3.46 trillion in 2019. According to survey findings, in Q1 2020 in the U.S., e-commerce sales amounted to over $154 billion. Sales soared to $203 billion in Q2. This giant leap was triggered by increased reliance on online shopping during the lockdown. As expected, e-commerce growth continued throughout 2020.
3. Web Apps
The year 2020 saw a massive increase in employees who now prefer and even demand to work remotely. Instead of storing all of their data locally, now businesses need tools like web apps, which can store data and allow access from any location. These apps are all available via the internet anywhere and through any device, offering accessibility to employees, purchasers and users alike.
Two good examples of web apps that experienced growth during the pandemic are Zoom (a video conferencing tool) and Upwork (a freelancing platform). Zoom experienced a 300% increase in its global user base. In the second quarter of 2021, Upwork’s revenue rose 42% year-over-year to $124.2 million.
4. Automation Software
The pandemic caused a rise in the use of automation software. Automation helps businesses maintain a work-from-home culture, and for some companies, it’s a blessing due to the shortage of employees worldwide. Now, companies ranging from large brands to start-ups are focusing more on automation.
Automation also has helped many companies transition online or change their business models. The results of a McKinsey study showed that automation has helped businesses get through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the report findings, 76% of companies have accelerated automation because of the pandemic.
An Outlook Into The Years Ahead
Working from home influenced the migration of systems to the internet. This shift has allowed companies to reduce the cost of purchasing and distributing clunky desktop apps and instead rely on quickly retrievable networks. Whether through increasingly accessible and appealing e-commerce channels or cloud applications, content and data — and revenue sources — are shifting to favor the easiest-to-use options. As organizations continue to embrace the pandemic-induced digital transformation, the need for contactless payment, e-commerce solutions, web apps and automation tools will continue to rise in the post-pandemic world.