Rebuilding the world: How software helps industries recover from the crisis

Rebuilding the world: How software helps industries recover from the crisis

Here’s an overlook of how software helps industries recover from the crisis- from retail and financial businesses to governmental organizations. Take a look!

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought an economic impact that is both far-reaching and deeply significant on many levels of society. Now that we are in the midst of rebuilding and recovering, it is a good time to look at the role that software plays in several important industries.

The economic impact of COVID-19 drives change for the better

In the U.S., as many as one-third of unemployment payments are unpaid. This leaves a gap of roughly $67 billion between emergency need and actual payouts. While the jobless rate is at its highest since the Great Depression, Americans have very little in savings to tide them over until payments arrive or jobs return. 69% have less than one thousand dollars in their savings accounts, according to a survey published just weeks before the pandemic hit.

Photo of a retail store inside

This has implications across the board but especially in the retail and financial industries, as well as in governmental organizations.

  • Retail. As consumers change their behavior and tighten their purse strings, much of the retail sector has suffered. Some, with stronger e-commerce offerings, have adapted and are attempting to survive in a “new normal”.
  • Finance. As incomes disappear and government payouts are delayed, borrowers are asking their financial institutions to help them out by relaxing credit terms and improving their digital services. Those institutions that can be flexible enough to support their customers in these ways are finding more success in the new normal.
  • Government.  Many governmental organizations found that they were severely challenged during the pandemic, with outdated software hampering their ability to provide COVID relief.

In retail, software helps companies differentiate their brand in a tough marketplace

In retail, major retailers are closing because of little or no revenues during the pandemic. Even household names like Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s have had their credit ratings downgraded, which puts them one step closer to having to close. Since they are non-essential retail businesses, the pandemic has hurt them at a time when some were already struggling, even before the outbreak. Shopping was already moving online and even Nordstrom, whose e-commerce website was known for its great UX, is struggling. This is bad news for an economy where one in four workers is supported by the retail industry.

Person in an ecommerce site doing some purchase

It is not all bad news in retail. Stores with an e-commerce offering have a greater chance at fulfilling consumer demand as it shifts to online channels. In fact, there is great opportunity in this area, as e-commerce revenue is up: for online retail in the Americas, for example, there is 171% revenue growth year over year.

This highlights the importance of software in helping retail companies recover from the crisis. Good e-commerce software is certainly a beginning. Additionally, customer support, customer engagement, supply chain management, and cybersecurity software platforms are just a few examples of supportive systems that help differentiate a retailer in a highly competitive marketplace — and which are quickly becoming thought of as essential, not optional for success.

As retailers recover, they will need their software to be faster, more resilient, “always on”, and more intuitive for users.

One retailer that has leveraged software improvements to recover from the crisis is Apple. Across their large offering of products, there are several examples of improvements they have made, ranging from new features to redesigns and new conceptualizations of users’ needs during and after the pandemic, Apple is completely tuned in. Take a look:

  • Hand-washing feature- the Apple Watch detects how long you are washing your hands and guides you to wash for the recommended amount of time
  • Memojis now have the option of a COVID-19 face mask
  • Apple Maps now features bicycle directions, recognizing that more people are riding bicycles rather than taking public transportation
  • Home screens on the iPhone are notification-free in the evening to help people wind down and get a better night’s sleep in recognition of increased stress during the crisis

In finance, there are opportunities for better service and support through software

Capital One UK knows this — they have poured resources into improving their jobs website and the work has paid off. This year, it was a 2020 Webby Award Honoree for best navigation/structure. With a statement that certifies their commitment to finding ways to use finance to make people’s lives easier, they speak to a type of personal finance that is more creative, simpler, and more human-centered. With an integration that connects the site’s job search function with a LinkedIn Profile Job Match, the company is making the job search easier, simpler, and more creative for future employees, too. That helps attract top talent in an industry where customer service plays a leading role in attracting and retaining banking customers, the lifeblood of the industry.

Two women looking at a computer

Capital One UK is just one example of a financial company that has found opportunities to serve their audience better through software and/or an accelerated digital transformation. Other financial institutions will have to face extreme tests of their resiliency during this time as they strive to provide valuable services to individuals and to continue playing an important role in the functioning of the economy.

As historically low-interest rates have diminished some revenue streams in banking, their resiliency will be more important than ever. If they can act swiftly, listen to the consumer, and differentiate their brand with innovative products and superior customer service with help of improved software, they will have a better chance at surviving the new normal.

Government agencies simply need to upgrade

U.S. State governments faced a grim reality during the crisis: their systems were inadequate, partly due to their outdated software. This caused obstacles in getting services out to the community and challenged their effectiveness in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Upgrading legacy systems would be a step in the right direction but that takes time and there are many hurdles to jump over before money can be appropriated.

The State of Rhode Island is working to update their decades-old unemployment insurance (UI) system (which was written in COBOL!) and working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to move to the Cloud. As they become more Agile, they hope to speed up UI processing.

Wrapping things up

We have looked at just a few businesses that have seen their way through the pandemic and are coming out the other side better, stronger than before, thanks to software improvements they have made during recent months. Whether you are modernizing, transforming, re-platforming, or building from scratch, making changes to your digital ecosystem through software upgrades is one way to follow a similar path to success as you begin your recovery from the crisis. As always, your first step is communicating your vision.

Although every industry faces a tough situation during and after the crisis, this is the time to harness the energy of current events and focus on ways to improve the customer experience and/or your offerings in the digital space so you can provide better services and a better experience once things are underway again and in full swing during the new normal.

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