02/04/2020 - 15:38

Home work the clear winner

02/04/2020 - 15:38

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Home work the clear winner

There are already some early signs of very clear winners and losers from the COVID-19 crisis, no matter how much we want to believe we are all in this together.

At a very global level, there is something of VHS versus Beta moment happening from what I am hearing. Of all the collaboration software available, two names stand out: Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

I suspect the former is rapidly being deployed across big corporations and government agencies and departments that had the licence, if not the stomach, for implementation for some time. In small to medium businesses like ours, Zoom has been the go-to system. It will be interesting to see if my view is too narrowly based on my direct experiences, or maybe there’s a geographical skew. Certainly I have also heard Slack is popular, so it will be interesting to see if that can win market share.

In another discussion I had (with an investment adviser) the view was to look at industry leaders. Their sage advice was that, after a crisis, the number one in any sector usually comes out stronger with a great market share. That is a simple rule of thumb, suggesting that no matter how much one industry has been smashed by this event, the leaders will be the greatest beneficiaries of survival.

Clearly, at the most troubled end, we are talking about sectors like airlines, non-grocery retailers, and major commercial property owners.

Then again, some of these players were skating on thin ice prior to the downturn and size doesn’t always help if you simply can’t find funding.

The challenge for a few sectors is how much the disruption that was slowly killing them now finishes them off.

Online platforms are the only way to shop now, so adoption by previously reluctant demographics will be wholesale. Retailers, even those in food, will find many customers' habits will have changed in six months' time.

Will corporations now see the benefits of having big parts of their workforce at home or on flexi-time? Maybe governments, seeing congestion fall and desiring less spending on roads and transport infrastructure, might be more ‘encouraging’ towards such work practices.

And airlines won’t disappear but many people will have enjoyed telecommuting over travel for meetings and other less-efficient enterprises. Business travel might become less profitable?

Of course, I don’t believe augmented reality technology will advance rapidly enough in this crisis to replace actually going on holidays to an exotic location, but the market leader theory might well take a hit from COVID-19.

I’d hazard a guess cruising has just slipped quite a few levels on many consumers’ bucket lists.

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