The latest survey by Accenture Research cemented the belief that life will never go back to where it was BC (Before COVID). The shift in working environments and business operations prompted companies to innovate to meet the new requirements of living.
As proof that many organizations and people have accepted that this situation — hybrid work, living amid a pandemic — is the move to repurpose physical locations, explore new business models, and rapidly adapt advanced analytics and other disruptive technologies to find new sources of growth.
Individually, the survey finds 95% said they made at least one change to their lifestyle that they expect will be permanent.
“The ripple effects of the pandemic will be felt for some time and serve as a powerful illustration of the need for consumer-facing companies to be agile, resilient, and responsive to change,” said Oliver Wright, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s global consumer goods industry group. “Born out of disaster and necessity comes opportunity; the pandemic has sparked a new wave of innovation. As companies fundamentally rethink ways of doing business that delivers growth, many are using advanced analytical capabilities to spot, respond, and target changing consumption trends.”
One year into the pandemic, companies realized that digital transformation is not a one-time initiative but will be an ongoing effort but on a faster scale. Accenture saw many consumer-facing companies have re-platformed their businesses in the cloud, addressed cost pressures, and continued to build resilience and security, putting the infrastructure in place to enable innovation and position them for future success.
While remote work arrangements are becoming the norm, the Accenture survey found that more than three-quarters (79%) of respondents said they would like to occasionally work from a “third space” or a location other than their home or place of employment. More than half said they would be willing to pay up to $100 per month out of their own pockets to work from a café, bar, hotel, or retailer with a dedicated space.
If before, business travel is an essential component in running businesses, the survey found almost half (46%) of respondents said they have no business travel plans post-pandemic, or they intend to cut previous business travel by half.
“The pandemic has forced ’creative pragmatism’, especially for travel and hospitality firms grappling to find additional revenue streams during the crisis,” said Emily Weiss, managing director and head of Accenture’s global travel industry group. “Some hotels turned rooms into pop-up restaurants while others experimented with offering temporary office space to customers seeking a ‘third space’ to work. While there has been experimentation with innovation in select pockets, companies need to scale these new services and address travelers’ renewed focus on health and safety, for example, by using the cloud to help enable fully contactless interactions.”
Perhaps, e-commerce can best illustrate how much people’s lives and business operations have changed. Accenture said online purchases of basic food and home essentials, as well as fashion and luxury goods increased by 343% since the COVID-19 outbreak. People have chosen to buy online not only because of lockdowns but also for fear of getting infected by the virus if they go out in places like supermarkets where many individuals converge.
“Leading retailers were quick to adapt to the surge in e-commerce and are using technology to serve customers in new ways,” said Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s global retail industry group. “Many adopted disruptive technologies such as augmented reality to recreate the physical store experience and help shoppers better visualize a room of furniture or an outfit, while others repurposed closed stores into local fulfillment centers with picking and packing technology. Even in a post-pandemic world, companies will need to satisfy consumers’ appetite for online shopping with fast delivery and get more intentional about the investments they will make in their people, supply chains, physical stores, and digital channels to be well-positioned to drive growth.”