Many Americans already consider technology an important enabler. From online banking to powering a “smart” home, people use their phones and other devices to manage significant aspects of their lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic raised the technology reliance bar even higher. Suddenly, working from home is the norm. Medical visits became remote, and online grocery order and delivery surged. This spurred significant growth in the use of some apps and services.
Video conferencing soared and will continue to grow. Video conferencing apps attracted 1.4 million new users the first week of January 2020, but a record 6.7 million in the first week of March 2020.1 As the pandemic intensified, so did video-conferencing app installs. In June 2020, Zoom was the second-most installed non-gaming app worldwide, with close to 71.2 million installs — 34 times its downloads in June 2019.2 Zoom revenue grew by more than 53% in 2021 to four billion dollars.3 Growth will continue, with 90% of North American businesses expected to spend more on video conferencing in 2022.4
Food delivery apps also surged. Uber Eats was the most downloaded app worldwide for May 2020, with more than 8.2 million installs, followed by McDonald’s with more than 6.6. million installs. Walmart, DoorDash and Foodpanda rounded out the top five most downloaded apps for the month of May.5 In 2021, Delivery Heroes, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Just Eat Takeaway, and Getir were the top five total downloaded apps. In 2020, food delivery grew the most it has in five years – thanks to the pandemic. It is expected to reach $320 billion by 2029.6
TikTok took over photo and video apps. TikTok’s revenue was up 10.6 times year over year in May 2020, with user spending topping $95.6 million around the
world.7 In 2021, TikTok generated $4.6 billion. It was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide in Q1 2022, surpassing 3.5 billion downloads and earning almost 1.4 billion in revenue, in comparison to the same quarter of the prior year.8 YouTube came in second with $78.3 million in gross revenue, representing 77.2% year-over-year growth.9 YouTube revenue in 2021 was $28.8 billion – a 48% increase year-over-year. Q1 2022 revenue was almost seven billion dollars. YouTube remains second in App store downloads.10
To say adoption and growth in app use was rapid is an understatement. “We may have accelerated five to seven years’ worth of [app] adoption behavior,” says Wayne Kurtzman, research director for social and collaboration at market intelligence firm IDC. “Everyone was forced to do a seven-year plan in two weeks.”11
The impact quickly grew beyond digital-first businesses. As consumers became more accustomed to trying new services online, traditional in-person businesses saw their technology adoption accelerate as well.
For example, banks have been pushing customers toward online and mobile banking for years, but the pandemic forced digital holdouts to try banking in new ways. Customers conducted more “high-value, high-risk” banking activities through digital
channels.12 Forty-two percent of consumers used mobile deposit for the first time in 2020 and 70% considered it the top priority in banking capabilities.13
Similarly, grocery shopping moved online in a big way. A whopping 78.5% of U.S. consumers reported shopping online for groceries after the COVID-19 outbreak, up 39% from before the pandemic. Online grocery shopping increased to 83% in 2021.14 Sales are expected to reach $147.5 billion in 2022. While growth will likely slow to around 18% per year from 2023-2025, sales are expected to quadruple to $243.67 billion since 2019.15
As always, new technology needs will persist.
What was driven by a need for health, safety and social distancing is continuing. Customers have become accustomed to doing business in new ways. And it’s not just consumer-facing companies that had to adjust their technology efforts. All businesses — including B2B companies — learned valuable operational lessons, many involving efficiencies and cost savings.
During the pandemic, a Forbes article asked, “How can automation accelerate our recovery and protect us from future pandemics?” The short answer: “People empowered by automation will bring us out of this crisis.”16
The article notes that prior to the pandemic, automation was sometimes regarded as the reason for future massive job losses – that people would be replaced by technology. “Now there’s evidence that technology protects humans,” the article states. Logistics automation protects warehouse and delivery workers. Digital payments protect customers
and clerks, and so on.17
Among the changes we’ve seen: Continuity plans were reformulated to accommodate not only the possibilities of natural disasters and cyber incidents, but also widespread travel restrictions, quarantines, and extended school closures. Crisis management and responses were finely tuned to respond to scenarios that previously seemed to be remote and unlikely.
Supply chains were remodeled for redundancy.
An “everything is global” mindset now drives strategy, even for small companies. Flexible, resilient business models are a must, along with an increased focus on cash-flow forecasting. Cash-rich businesses have opportunities for mergers and acquisitions.
And when it comes to technology itself, optimizing internal efficiencies, employee and customer experience are paramount. Can your company use technology to improve productivity and cost-savings? If you’re not sure, ask yourself these questions:
What opportunities can technology foster relative to expanding our products and services?
There’s still work to do.
As we manage beyond the pandemic, optimizing technology comes down to prioritizing your organization’s efforts to implement efficient and profitable solutions.
A good first step is to create a cross-functional team to brainstorm opportunities. This calls for blue-sky thinking, opening the door to innovation and even extreme retooling of processes and realignment of key performance indicators.
KPMG suggested an infrastructure review and capacity planning, maximizing current technology capabilities, developing support plans, and identifying critical security concerns.18 Opportunities exist for every business. But as Roland Busch, the CEO of Siemens recently warned, “The more digital our world becomes, the faster we need to learn.”
What did your company learn from the pandemic relative to technology? The key to success is finding the right ways for your organization to exploit technology to promote convenience, product and service availability and real, bottom-line returns.
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
Reuters, “Teleconference Apps and New Tech Surge in Demand Amid Coronavirus Outbreak,” March 13, 2020
Sensor Tower, “Top Apps Worldwide for June 2020 by Downloads,” July 8, 2020
BusinessofApps, “Zoom Revenue and Usage Statistics (2022),” June 30, 2022
Trust Radius, “84 Current Video Conferencing Statistics for the 2021 Market,” July 1, 2021
Sensor Tower, “Top Quality Food Delivery Apps Worldwide for May 2020 by Downloads,” June 24, 2020
BusinessofApps, “Food Delivery App Revenue and Usage (2022),” July 6, 2022
Sensor Tower, “Top Grossing Photo & Video Apps Worldwide for May 2020,” June 22, 2020
BusinessofApps, “Tik Tok Revenue and Usage Statistics (2022),” June 30, 2022
Sensor Tower, “Top Grossing Photo & Video Apps Worldwide for May 2020,” June 22, 2020
BusinessofApps, “YouTube Revenue and Usage Statistics (2022),” June 30, 2022
CNN, “Zoom’s Rise Kicked Off a Tech Battle Over Video Conferencing. Here’s What’s at Stake,” June 2, 2020
Research and Markets, “Impact on Banking: COVID-19 Thematic Research,” April 2020
Mitek, “2020 Pandemic Catapults Mobile Check Deposit to the Banking Forefront,” January 25, 2021
Supermarket News, “Online Grocery Shopping Grows Amid ‘Pandemic-Induced Channel Stickiness,” May 24, 2021
Oberlo, “Online Grocery Market (2019-2025),” 2022
Forbes, “Expect More Jobs and More Automation in the Post-COVID-19 Economy,” April 10, 2020
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