Businesses warned coronavirus disruption 'could last a decade'

Market analyst Forrester identifies five pandemic-induced trends in latest report

Five pandemic-induced trends have been identified that are predicted to change the way businesses and technology develop over the next decade.

A major shift in customers’ expectations, digital experiences, working habits, technology use, and business resilliency are all likely to cause near, medium, and long term changes for most companies, analyst house Forrester has warned.

Forrester found that factors such as safety and convenience are influencing future customer expectations, likely due to the closure of physical retail spaces during the lockdown imposed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

For example, it's believed 60% of metropolitan Chinese adults are now making more purchases online due to a desire for convenience as well as sensitivity towards the risk of catching or spreading the virus, according to the report.

Nevertheless, the response to digital solutions has been found to widely vary across the globe, with 35% of US and UK online adults still prefering in-store purchases. Forrester predicts that, in the medium-term, the lack of in-person interaction while shopping will cause consumers to feel a lack of meaning and purpose, elevating the need for a trusted brand which will offer them the most control over buying experiences in the long run.

The second trend identified is the demand for good design and digital user experience practices. The report predicts that, in the long-term, businesses capable of convincing consumers to share their biometric or behavioural data will deliver anticipatory experiences that predict and match their shopping, financial, and entertainment needs.

Thirdly, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the ability to achieve the impossible, such as shifting entire workforces to remote working and building engaged workforces by combining human work with technology such as AI or automation. Forrester predicts that the shift to WFH will cause businesses to abandon “more than a quarter of their city-centre office space”.

The fourth trend will be reflected in the long-term changes to transportation and lifestyle, facilitated by technological innovations like electrification and automation, the report added. This will prompt businesses to develop “more transparent and flexible supply chains” while restructuring logistics processes with “blockchain/distributed ledger technology”.

Lastly, Forrester predicts that business resiliency will become the new competitive advantage, influencing more leaders to invest in enterprise risk management capabilities in the long run. According to Forrester VP and group director Stephanie Balaouras, “the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do business”.

“It has forced firms and policymakers to do things that were previously considered impossible,” she said. “As a result, business leaders are quickly embracing new, iterative ways to engage with customers, adapting to new ways of working, investing in technology innovation, and revisiting their business resiliency plans for long-term success.”

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