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Higher demand for software development due to COVID-19


Aug 14, 2020 - 4 minute read

Blog Software Development During Pandemic 416X305
Magda Richmond Digital Marketing Specialist

She's specialising in delivering the right message via the right channel, using a variety of digital tools. 

See all Magda's posts

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Forrester predicts that the recent crisis caused by the pandemic has slowed down the British economy by 20%, and that it will take approximately 2 years for it to fully recover.  

At the same time, we’ve heard success stories from companies like Zoom – they’ve grown from 10 million users per day on average (pre-pandemic) to 200 million during the lockdown. Similarly, Amazon has had to hire extra manpower to keep up with higher demand. Traffic on social and entertainment platforms like Netflix and YouTube has skyrocketed.  

Challenges & opportunities

As strange as it may seem, it’s both a very hard time for most of us, but also a time full of opportunities (for example for the tech industry).  

You might have seen memes about the coronavirus being responsible for the digital transformation of some organisations. As funny as it might sound, it’s actually true in many cases where digital changes have accelerated rapidly during the pandemic. Custom software development may not be prioritised over health measures, but truth be told, healthcare and public institutions need to upgrade their outdated systems, and they need to do so quickly.  

No matter the industry and how hard it’s being affected, businesses around the globe are facing similar challenges: 

  • Should we be setting new priorities? 
  • Should we be adjusting organisational processes?  
  • Are we moving forward or playing it safe? 
  • Are we utilising existing technologies or investing in new ones? 

The new normal

When so many people have switched to remote work, we leave behind empty office spaces, printers, and piles of documents. We’ve had to look for new digital solutions and ways of virtual collaboration that help us with day-to-day work. Our lives have started relying even more on technology and we’ve adopted new digital solutions both inside and outside of our workplaces.  

Similarly, brick and mortar shops have shifted toward e-commerce as public spaces have shut down. The crisis has proven that digitalisation is inevitable no matter the industry, no matter the country.  

Public sector and healthcare have been especially in need of modernisation and new applications for tracking, tracing, testing etc. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the many inefficiencies of legacy systems, especially in public institutions. In the US, many of the unemployment systems still run on mainframes and are written in COBOL. Even though maintaining such outdated solutions is time-consuming and rather costly, some leaders are still reluctant of changes.  

In places where tap-and-go cards have not yet been introduced, businesses have come up with their own creative ideas of payment, such as custom mobile applications and online exchange platforms. Traditionally a rather conservative industry, finance has become keener to innovate due to the high rise in demand.  

New restrictions force us to be more creative. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been introduced to many voice-controlled and automated devices, which are meant to support our social distancing efforts. And when digital becomes the primary way of interacting, software and tech companies will become the most desirable. 

An IT perspective

In these complicated times, the IT world needs to accommodate both the need for invention and the fear of an economic downturn already seen elsewhere. The key is to learn, adjust, and progress so that the recovery phase is less painful. And, as the IT world is already familiar with the agile methodology, it may come easier to them. 

Despite all of the above, it’s not to say that the IT industry shouldn’t worry. Without companies from other industries wanting to do business, big tech won’t have it easy. After the crisis, businesses will start to slowly reopen but customer behaviour will likely change. As such, there will be a crucial role for IT companies to play: introducing new solutions and technologies. Big tech has done an enormous job helping stop the virus from spreading faster and enabling us to better adjust to the new reality of digital life.  

When time is of the essence, software companies may switch from native app development to progressive web app development to cut the cost, time, and risk. New investments may seem counterintuitive at the moment, but for those thinking about the future, it’s an obvious choice. Wise and bold decisions made now may help companies survive the crisis in the long run.  

Despite low-code being on the market for a while, it has only recently gained more interest and attention. New platforms like Mendix, Outsystems, or PowerApps offer quick development – and by quick, I mean days and weeks, not months. In response to the restrictions of the pandemic, companies have used low-code for quick solutions like apps developed to check employees’ temperature (link) or an app that provides digital medical assistance to diabetic patients (link).  

An additional benefit of low-code is that it enables non-technical business stakeholders to take active part in the development process. The most recent developments from healthcare, the public sector, or finance have proven that business leaders, rather than tech leaders, are the ones making the decisions to create new, innovative solutions. During this crisis, it’s more important to focus on speed, not perfectionism, which is why low-code is such an interesting option.  

Often, the greatest lessons come from the hardest of times. It’s yet to be seen what influence IT will have on the recovery process, but until the crisis is over, we need to do our best to collaborate for the common good. 

And, if you’re still a bit reluctant to innovate and experiment, check out all the pro-bono offers for COVID-related projects. Some companies are offering free tools or licensing, which can significantly lower the cost of your projects.  

HC NHS Survey Blog Ad
Magda Richmond Digital Marketing Specialist

She's specialising in delivering the right message via the right channel, using a variety of digital tools. 

See all Magda's posts

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