Solutions that will support your business and not waste your money
The pandemic is definitely a time when companies are more careful with their expenses. In the time of economic uncertainty, it’s risky to jump into new long-term projects or increase spendings in general. Some investments are frozen, some projects put on hold, but companies didn’t stop spending money.
In a recent report prepared by our team, we asked business leaders from various industries what areas they want to increase their investments in right now – here’s what we found.
What companies want to invest in
Even though the pandemic is cutting down investments in IT products and services, there are some solutions that gain popularity. A few weeks ago, we conducted a survey of 135 business leaders asking them how the pandemic is impacting their businesses and what areas they’re planning to invest in more during this time. The top choice with 48.8% of responses was investing in collaboration tools (see chart below), then AI with 39.5%, and process automation with 36.4%. Are these the best solutions to spend your money on right now? Let’s have a closer look at the top 5 responses.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that collaboration tools were selected the number 1 thing to increase investments in right now. With the sudden switch to remote work, many companies had to reinvent the way they work. Those who had previously had experience with managing remote work only had to follow the processes they had in place, but for numerous organizations, it was a huge change. There was no transition period – if only you could do your work from home, that’s what you were asked to do. Teams and managers had to find ways to maintain productivity, collaborate and communicate effectively, and keep some work-life balance.
Given the boom in remote working, many collaboration software vendors, including Microsoft, Google, Slack, and Zoom, among others, started offering products for free, typically meaning that additional paid features can now be used for free. How big was that “boom”? Well, quite significant, actually: in the period between March 11 and March 18 (so in just one week), Microsoft Teams experienced a growth of 12 million users. Collaborative technology is definitely an area worth spending money on.
The pandemic is likely to change or accelerate AI adoption strategies in various companies, also those who were previously pretty far from actual adoption. With supply chain challenges and a significant increase in online spending, companies need to improve their technological advancements, while companies that were totally tech-primitive before the pandemic, now landed in hot water. Organizations now need to find ways to optimize processes, target the best customers even more accurately, manage supply and demand. When customers stopped visiting brick-and-mortar point of sales and turned to online interactions. They won’t go to a bookstore in a shopping center, won’t visit a bank branch, won’t eat out. Instead, they will buy online, bank online, and order food to be delivered. This creates a lot of unstructured data, and many businesses were not prepared to deal with such data – so they don’t know how to make sense of it, not to mention using it to their advantage. That’s where AI can help: it can dig into the mess and help understand consumers better.
Read also: RPA and AI – What is the Difference and How Can They Work Together?
Another area that isn’t a surprise on this list. Organizations around the world express interest in automation due to the rapidly changing situation and increase demand. When many of the tasks can no longer be performed by human workforce, while other areas experience higher demand (i.e. call centers), companies come to realize the benefits of automation.
Companies are looking for ways to increase productivity and decrease spending – so process automation is a perfect solution. For example, robotic process automation (RPA) can easily free people from doing time-consuming, repetitive tasks. This way, such tasks don’t consume the valuable time of employees – which means they can use their work time more efficiently, doing tasks that require a human touch.
Video tools are a total must-have right now. Videoconferencing, moving events online, video marketing, social media live videos – all these have gained popularity, and they don’t just happen. When entire teams work remotely, videoconferencing is the only way to hold meetings – and also the only opportunity to see your coworkers when stuck at home. Traditional events can’t happen – and the situation won’t change too soon. Many events, including conferences, performances, festivals had to be canceled. Others are either expanding their online presence, organizing webinars, Q&As, online networking sessions, or making their first steps with online events. Oh, and then there are marketing videos – with so much content (more and more everywhere every day!), people are just overwhelmed. They scroll down their social media pages and see one more article, one more ebook, one more podcast ad. But video is a type of content that’s more engaging and captivating. Users are more likely to notice moving objects, right? So various companies turn to videos, be it prerecorded or live. No wonder video tools are a necessary investment!
At the end of April, World Economic Forum published an article on how the pandemic is changing education. The authors state:
While countries are at different points in their COVID-19 infection rates, worldwide there are currently more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic.
With this shift away from the classroom, there’s a need to reorganize teaching. EdTech was already experiencing adoption growth before the pandemic, but with the global lockdown, it’s become even more important. Children learn from home, teams are trained remotely, people need to gain new skills due to the crisis, so they take online courses. This means that a whole variety of EdTech solutions are in high demand: starting with tools supporting primary and secondary school teachers, through MOOCs (massive open online courses), to enabling trainers and lecturers to hold online sessions.
A look into the future
The world is undoubtedly changing – for everyone. Companies and individuals have to adapt, but will the changes introduced now stay with us forever? It’s hard to say. Many organizations have realized how important it is to be more flexible (remote work, online learning), and more technologically advanced. While we may go back to offices, though possibly on more relaxed terms, the benefits of automation and artificial intelligence became clear to many business leaders, and these (among other) technologies are expected to continue to grow after the pandemic as well. After all, we can no longer count on “everything will be fine the way it is”. It already isn’t what it used to be.
Read also: 6 small business technology trends to watch in 2022