One thing we’ve learned from our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic is that we can achieve a lot more online than we probably ever thought possible. Almost overnight, many of us began working from home, holding all or most of our meetings with colleagues online and video conferencing instead of flying interstate.
We shifted training courses online and attended virtual events instead of physical ones.
Globally we’ve seen bigger changes in workplaces over the past few months than at any time in history over such a short period.
The net effect of the restrictions has been to accelerate the digital transformation of the workplace and the economy. We see it when we’re out and about. For example, contactless payment is now the norm. Even for small items, and even if we’re buying them in a physical store, paying with cash now seems a little… 2019!
Nowhere is this transformation more evident than when it comes to digital communications. According to technology review site TrustRadius, six of the top 10 fastest-growing software categories since the pandemic struck involve digital communications.
Telehealth software — video conferencing for the medical profession — tops the list with growth of more than 600%, while general web conferencing has seen growth approaching 500% based on Google search traffic for those products.
Video platforms continue to grow, topping 300% while webinar platforms, web portals and live chat also make the top 10, experiencing growth of around 200% since the pandemic hit.
Some of these categories peaked early, but others — such as webinar technology — are still on the rise.
As we look to return to a new ‘normal’ with restrictions easing around Australia, how many of these changes will leave a lasting impact?
Web and video conferencing is here to stay as least as long as remote work remains a reality for many people. It’s also a highly efficient, cost-effective way of operating while the economy recovers.
Virtual events are also booming as organisations look ahead and start to plan out their event strategy for the second half of 2020.
We’ve seen a 78% increase in remote webinars so far this year compared with the same period last year. Studio-based webcasts are now growing just as strongly as organisations return to the professional look and technological support they enjoyed prior to the pandemic.
And many customers that previously held face-to-face training, annual conferences and AGMs are now moving those online.
Face-to-face events will bounce back over time, but for the foreseeable future they will be less efficient because of the need to implement social distancing.
Interestingly, for many of our customers, the pandemic appears to be driving lasting change because it has altered audience expectations. People who previously preferred face-to-face meetings and physical conferences have had to step out of their comfort zone and into a digital world — and that mindset is unlikely to go back to a pre-COVID-19 state.
Many of our customers have seen that virtual events are better than face-to-face events for some things. Numbers for educational webinars have risen dramatically across the board, for example.
Franchise Council of Australia executive manager Peter White says people can retain more complex information via resource packs and simply being able to watch the presentation more than once. Some people are also more confident asking questions in a digital forum.
Access is another big advantage. “We’re all time-poor,” says White. “We’ve got a lot of members in the Eastern states and logistically, it can be very challenging for members in Tasmania or Western Australia to take time out of their business to attend a face-to-face event. It’s much easier for them to attend online.”
We all had a certain way of doing things prior to the pandemic. But many of the changes we’ve made to cope with Coronavirus will spark new ways of doing things in the future.
At Redback, we’re looking forward to supporting our customers as we move into a new era in the way businesses connect and communicate digitally.
Discover how Franchise Council of Australia are successfully running their webinar series here – FCA Success Story