It’s increasingly apparent that the present Coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic is unique, complex and not going away any time soon. While the number of new cases is falling in China, cases continue to emerge in new countries.
The response to the outbreak has been swift and heavy. At the time of writing the WHO reports that 38 countries have implemented additional health measures including denial of entry of passengers, visa restrictions and quarantine for returning travellers in response to the coronavirus threat.
Organisations worldwide are suspending or restricting non-critical business travel, and in some cases encouraging employees to work from home, again in accordance with guidance from the authorities.
The outcome of these stringent measures is significant worldwide disruption of manufacturing and global value chains, with consequences not only for businesses, but for the global economy itself. Indeed McKinsey expects a slowdown in global growth for 2020. The OECD has gone further, saying that growth could fall to 1.5 percent if the outbreak persisted and could tip many countries into recession.
While these are challenging times inhibiting face to face interaction, the coronavirus outbreak needn’t derail your business ambitions completely. The answer is digital. Today’s solutions guarantee not only business continuity but better prospects too.
The show must go on
Online tools and technologies have evolved significantly since their emergence more than two decades ago. While officials and organisers are today deliberating on whether to encourage elbow bumping or foot tapping during physical meetings, social networks used by billions worldwide have for years rolled out greetings ranging from poking to hand waving. Furthermore these ‘virtual’ greetings have made their way from the desktop to the smartphone.
Similarly, businesses worldwide are increasingly advertising and selling their wares online. In a piece on coronavirus implications for business, McKinsey explains how consumer demand in China, where the virus originated, has not disappeared entirely. Instead there has been a “dramatic” shift toward online shopping for all types of goods.
Here are just several reasons why digital is an increasingly powerful opportunity:
- Digital is borderless (with few exceptions). While physical events and meetings are limited to spaces requiring travel, with digital solutions anyone can be reached anywhere in the world, including emerging markets. By 2023 two-thirds of the world’s population will have internet access, or 5.3 billion users
- Digital is always on. It’s 24/7 year-round, with little to no downtime. Speeds are furthermore improving worldwide
- Digital offers powerful targeting. No other medium is as effective in reaching audiences accurately and relevantly – and targeting is becoming more sophisticated still (as has been seen with microtargeting campaigns worldwide)
- Digital is highly measurable. They say that you can’t manage what you can’t measure - and any digital activity can very easily be measured and improved
- Digital is innovative. Because digital is highly measurable, it never stands still. Take social media: still in its infancy 10 years ago, today its reach is staggering (Facebook alone has 2.5 billion monthly active users)
Digital solutions that offer less disruption, not more, in challenging times
For healthcare businesses, there are exciting possibilities that can be pursued now – including the following:
- Webinars. It probably goes without saying that the online equivalent of a physical event is a digital-first event. In a recent statement released in response to COVID-19 Google announced that they were transforming their physical Google Cloud event into a global, multi-day event of streamed keynotes, breakout sessions and interactive learning. In a similar vein, webinars (traditionally online seminars) allow participants to follow a topic in-depth and engage in a discussion. You might be interested in our quarterly webinars focusing on healthcare trends (speak to our team if you wish to get involved!).
- Marketplace. In a similar vein, an online marketplace neatly complements a physical exhibition. Our Global Medical Directory, for example, allows businesses to stay connected with customers year-round and ensures that products are seen by up to 400,000 unique visitors. Businesses may benefit from a company profile, logo, unlimited product listings, video content and much more.
- Collaboration. Today’s online collaboration tools are highly sophisticated compared to their “Web 2.0” predecessors, offering many features under one roof. Microsoft Teams, for example, is more than a souped-up Skype, providing a care coordination specific to healthcare organisations to help them provide the best patient care. The Microsoft Teams Patients app integrates with electronic health record systems to enable clinical collaboration and communication.
- Advertising. Digital advertising easily allows a business to promote products and solutions to a global audience. Our display and email advertising opportunities for healthcare businesses will help build brand and product awareness to increase traffic, nurture potential customers, improve lead quality, drive additional sales and upsell products and services.
- Content marketing. Storytelling is an approach that can help businesses inspire, inform and educate through the digital equivalents of a daily newspaper, television or radio. Content might include a compelling case study or interview, the traditional press release or a more innovative data visualisation – such as an infographic.
For more information, visit our page on how to connect with healthcare professionals across the globe with our digital solutions – or speak to our team.