The Impact of COVID-19 on Market Verticals

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business in every market vertical. Many organizations have struggled to keep afloat. Others, which moved proactively to implement digital transformation initiatives before the outbreak, have been much more successful in remaining resilient and agile in these challenging times. As we approach the one-year mark of the coronavirus crisis and countries work to distribute vaccines worldwide, the question becomes: how will businesses adapt once the pandemic is under control?

covid disruption

It’s not all bad news

Businesses such as those in the travel and hospitality industry, or traditional retailers, are undergoing hard times indeed. Other market verticals like home improvement, telehealth and online retailing have experienced significant growth. To effectively help customers plan for the future, vendors need to understand how technology is becoming an integral component of the new normal and how the business climate is changing technology adoption.

Suppliers and vendors should take this opportunity to analyze their existing and future customer base by vertical segment with the goal of understanding the impacts and opportunities in each sector. This focused approach helps direct development and marketing efforts to target new clients, build reputation, and increase account penetration.

For developers, a strategy based on vertical markets helps organize product and service development. Resellers benefit from a more pointed marketing and sales strategy based on the industry and its specialized needs versus by product, technology or capabilities alone.

Increased demand for digital transformation

One of the major factors of COVID-19 is the increasing demand for digital transformation across all market verticals. It only took a global pandemic to prompt organizations to take the transformation seriously; it went from a nice-to-have to an essential strategy for survival. Across the board, organizations are increasing their investments in areas like business intelligence and analytics, digital workflow and collaboration, and automated governance and compliance.

But how will the global pandemic continue to affect operations in specific industries? Let’s take a look at these major sectors.

Supply chain

Experts warn that supply chains will become more localized. As the pandemic has impacted the world economy, more production will need to happen at a local level to preserve the integrity of the supply chain.

Additionally, just-in-time supply chains will become less heavily deployed. Organizations will not accept the increased risk. If, for example, supply chains are disrupted, production grinds to a halt because a couple of parts are missing. This means greater local stockpiles to account for an extended production buffer during times of crisis or massive investments in 3D printing to locally produce certain parts are likely. And, as in many sectors, expect the pace of automation to increase, because robots can’t contract coronavirus.


The delivery of healthcare will change in a post-coronavirus world. It is important to view this market vertical in two sectors: inside hospitals, and outside. Inside hospitals, administrators are tooling up to increase utilization of capacity planning. This makes sense because hospitals are seeing record amounts of patient overflow being exacerbated by COVID-19. Hospitals are actively looking to find solutions to take existing resources and utilize them more efficiently and faster, such as software that finds where unused resources (e.g., face masks) can be found, automated ordering, formal processes for overflow planning, and partnerships with rapid product development companies.

Perhaps the biggest area of growth in healthcare will be outside hospitals. The healthcare vertical has seen a dramatic rise in the adoption of telehealth and video appointments. Even before COVID-19, more and more patients were beginning to prefer getting treated at their own home. Now, it’s a standard expectation as nearly all patients are getting accustomed to the idea. Look for an upsurge in at-home diagnostics — often using IoT-connected devices — that collect patient data and upload that information automatically. There will be a host of tools to manage chronic conditions and digital therapeutic apps that can tell if medication was taken correctly.

Financial services

CFOs and executive leaders in all markets will tell you that access to capital is essential for any business in order to survive the shift in economic and social dynamics post-COVID-19. The financial service providers that will thrive are those that address the gap in access to capital. Digital banking will dominate the new norm and traditional banks will accelerate their technology partnerships to keep up with consumer expectations.

Experts warn that large tech companies such as Google will leverage their global influence to potentially capture this untapped market in the near future. For example, in order for banks to keep up with consumer needs such as contactless payments they will partner with proven fintech solutions instead of consuming resources building and testing applications in-house, and integrate with mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Enterprise technology

In all industries, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced companies who have been slow at adopting the future of work to rethink their business practices and people. Indeed, the workplace in 2021 will demand a different set of skills. Now more than ever, organizations need to embrace disruption as a springboard for competitive advantage and adopt new ways of working that invigorate organizational performance. The needed capabilities include the ability to leverage remote work as an advantage, increase information agility, and drive business growth despite these challenging times.

At the heart of this transformation is eliminating the reliance on paper within core business activities. Indeed, organizations that work at the speed of paper post-COVID will be increasingly rendered non-competitive and irrelevant. However, despite the ongoing trend toward digitization, the truth is that many key business processes continue to be buried in paper. According to Corcentric, as of 2019 over 80% of firms still used paper checks to pay their suppliers, over 70% of invoices arrived via postal mail and over 40% were still delivered via fax machine. Clearly, there is a mismatch between expectations of the paperless office and the real reality of post-COVID workflow.

Moving forward

The future of work is today. It’s no longer business as usual; new ways of working are needed. Organizations that embrace the disruption and leverage the ability to change as an advantage will be the ones that come out ahead. Providers and partners that work to provide that advantage, and clearly understand the impacts and opportunities in each market vertical will be more successful in making the sale. Making a vertical alignment strategy really work requires an understanding of not just technology, but also of the role that the approach can play in affecting real world process improvements specific to the target industry.  

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Kevin Craine is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. He is writer, podcaster and technology analyst, as well as the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He was named the No. 1 ECM Influencer to follow on Twitter.