Is the coronavirus pandemic an engine for the digital transformation?

The coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact on social life and the economy. How are digital companies getting along during this crisis? Will the crisis fuel actually end up driving the digital transformation? Forecasts derived from the DMEXCO Trend Survey.

The coronavirus pandemic could lift the digital transformation to a new level.
Image: © Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock

Danger or opportunity – what consequences does the coronavirus pandemic have in store for the digital industry?

The social and economic impacts of the corona pandemic are difficult to predict at this point in time. Along with concerns about the health of the population, fears of a serious economic crisis are in the air as well. Due to the initial restrictions, the existence of some firms is already endangered just a few weeks into the new measures; others need to fundamentally retool their approaches and develop a different culture of work.

Digital technologies have a key role to play during this phase of reorientation. How does the global spread of the coronavirus affect digitalization? Will the crisis bring new and unexpected potential for the digital industry? In the current DMEXCO Trend Survey 1-2020, more than 800 digital decision-makers, including 527 from the DACH countries and 305 working in the international setting, offer their assessment of current and future developments.

Digital transformation and COVID-19: Perspectives in the crisis

According to the DMEXCO Trend Survey, the COVID-19 crisis poses acute economic challenges for many digital companies. For example, around 60 percent of digital decision-makers surveyed reported that the coronavirus pandemic is currently having a “rather negative” to “negative” effect on their company. Conversely, 14% of respondents from the DACH countries and 13% of members of the international DMEXCO community are already reporting positive economic effects.

of respondents from DACH regions expect the coronavirus pandemic to accelerate the pace of the digital transformation.

But what about the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the digital sector? On this point, the majority of respondents (70 percent and 66 percent, respectively) are in agreement: The pandemic will accelerate the pace of the digital transformation. After all, 42 percent of Germanophone and 33 percent of international digital entrepreneurs believe that the industry will benefit economically from the crisis once the acute pandemic has come to an end. On the other hand, 25% of respondents believe that some market players will retreat, with those that remain emerging from the crisis even stronger than before. In German-speaking countries, however, just 19 percent of decision-makers (24 percent internationally) expect the pandemic to have a negative long-term impact on the digital economy.

Greater acceptance for conference streaming and working from home: Digitalization on the rise

In the current situation, there are more people working from home than ever before. Communication and collaboration tools are an essential part of the effort to keep collaboration running smoothly. The DMEXCO community takes a similar view: 71 percent (DACH) and 59 percent (international) find that digital tools such as Slack, Asana and Microsoft Teams will play an increasingly important role in everyday work in the future. Finally, the vast majority of respondents (85 and 78 percent, respectively) are convinced that working from home will be much more accepted in the future than it was before the crisis began. Most digital decision-makers also expect increased levels of meetings and conferences held online even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Over 800 digital decision-makers took part in the DMEXCO trend survey.
Graphic: © DMEXCO

The digital industry and the coronavirus pandemic: Distinguishing between short-term and long-term effects

A clear trend can be identified as one conclusion of the DMEXCO Trend Survey: On the one hand, the majority of digital decision-makers face acute negative effects of the crisis. On the other hand, most respondents are convinced that the COVID-19 crisis will contribute to technological progress in the long term and that, all in all, the digital economy will emerge from the current situation even stronger than before – a prospect that gives cause for hope in the face all of the negative news we are hearing at this time.

 In the DMEXCO trend survey, digital decision-makers gave optimistic forecasts.
Graphic: © DMEXCO