How technology companies are filling the void posed by COVID-19

Isabelle O’Keefe, Principal of Sure Valley Ventures, explores the ways in which technology companies have adapted and overcome.

The pandemic has prompted unparalleled uncertainty and disruption for businesses and economists alike. But, as 49% of employees shift to working from home, and consumers move online and adapt to living in lockdown, technology businesses have responded rapidly to fill the void, providing effective solutions for businesses and communities looking to navigate the post-pandemic world.

Throughout lockdown, we have seen a rapid adoption of online and digital services and a shift in spending, with 44% of consumers using contactless or digital payments more and 34% set to do more shopping online. Many of the online behaviours that have been adopted during the outbreak will continue after the pandemic, and this subsequently cultivates the right environment for certain segments of the tech industry to thrive.

A switch to online grocery shopping

UK customers are forecast to spend an estimated £16.8bn on digital grocery shopping during 2020, an increase of around 33%, according to the latest research by Mintel.

Before COVID-19, demand for same-day delivery services was already on the rise. But, as consumers avoid retail outlets in order to minimise the risk of exposure, the pressure on brands to offer a seamless delivery system has become much stronger. Mastercard recently reported that card-not-present transactions made up 50% of April’s volumes, up 10% year on year, demonstrating the significant shift in consumer spend trends in recent months.

The shift in spending habits can be seen through the growth of online supermarket Ocado in the FTSE 350, whose share price has almost doubled since the start of lockdown. Buymie, Ireland’s leading same-day grocery delivery company, which has strategic partnerships with Lidl and The Co-op, has successfully raised a total of c.$9m since the start of the year. The company has seen a surge in demand on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic due to its ability to fulfil grocery delivery orders in as little as one hour. On-demand grocery delivery has emerged as a high growth segment of the tech and retail markets during this extraordinary period.

Advertisers eye in-game ads as audiences rise in lockdown

Advertising is another industry which is rapidly evolving in the current climate. While digital advertising spend is predicted to drop, recent research by ResearchAndMarkets.com indicates that the global in-game advertising market is poised to grow by $10.97bn during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 20%.

Throughout the lockdown, gaming has experienced rising online audience figures, with telecommunications provider Verizon estimating that video game usage in the USA during peak hours had risen by 75% from the previous week, just one week into lockdown. Games Workshop has had much success by switching to online sales, seen through its current market value of £2.7bn. With audiences rising, Mastercard and Alienware have become the first to sponsor Riot Games, which announced in May that it would offer in-game arena banners for the first time for League of Legends Esports.

Admix, which brings ads to games, esports, VR and AR, is benefitting from this hyper-accelerated digital trend. It is working on a unique technology to support game advertising at scale, where advertisers can bid programmatically through traditional ad-buying platforms, rather than relying on an ad agency model. Non-intrusive in-gaming advertising presents a significant opportunity in today’s market.

Educators and events companies move online

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts to improve remote working and learning as lockdown prohibits the gathering of pupils and professionals around the world. Zoom has achieved global success and Microsoft Teams recently became the 10th most downloaded app in the app store. However, virtual reality is now transforming how training and educational content is delivered and consumed globally.

Immersive VR Education provides a ground-breaking alternative to video-conferencing providers like Zoom. It allows users to immerse themselves fully in a virtual environment, making hard to visualise concepts much easier to understand. In 2020, they have also partnered with the global giant HTC which agreed to invest €3m in the company in May. This evolving partnership in the current pandemic shows how IVR Education is in a strong position to take advantage of the new ways to work and learn in a post-COVID-19 world.

An even stronger demand for robust cybersecurity solutions

The recent surge in online activity has meant that protecting critical data is more important than ever. A report by Centrify highlights that 71% of UK-based business decision makers believe the shift to 100% remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach. With these concerns echoed by management teams around the world, the global cybersecurity market is predicted to grow from $173bn in 2020 to $270bn by 2026.

The recent data protection requirements announced in June for all US Department of Defence suppliers have increased the demand for AI security companies, like Getvisibility, which leverages AI to discover, protect and classify critical data. The company has seen revenues rise by 50% month-on-month since the start of 2020. In the current climate, there is much value in a company that gives users visibility of data.

The current environment has allowed certain tech companies and the transformative digital solutions they provide, to become even more attractive. From our perspective, these emerging tech trends will continue to accelerate in a post-COVID world.

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