At Bloomberg’s June 18 virtual event, Sooner Than You Think: A Digital Reboot, Bloomberg European Technology Editor Nate Lanxon kicked off the event with a panel discussion called “Innovate Your Way Out.” Speakers Bobby Healy, the founder and CEO of Manna Drone Delivery; Miao Song, Global CIO of Mars Petcare; and Jeanie York, CTIO of Virgin Media, focused this conversation around how they have used innovation to quickly react to market shifts and pivot their own companies to meet changing customer demands in response to the pandemic.
That conversation was followed by a second panel discussion called “Reimagining the New Normal,” moderated by Bloomberg Technology Reporter Sarah Syed. Speakers Johann Butting, the VP of EMEA for Slack; Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the founder and executive chair of Snoop; and Dr. Ali Parsa, the CEO of Babylon Health spoke about how the changes made to accommodate lockdowns could permanently reshape the way companies do business.
Keep reading for key insights – and you can watch the full event here.
Jeanie York, Chief Technology Information Officer of Virgin Media, said that Virgin Media was well-positioned to keep up with the pace of demand for broadband by growing network capacity. The company accelerated regular plans for network augmentation during Covid-19 because of the sudden large spikes in traffic due to changing behavior related to lockdowns—with 60% increases in daytime usage from consumers. This enabled Virgin Media to maintain stable service levels for customers in spite of changes to demand.
In response to the pandemic, Bobby Healy, Founder and CEO of Manna Drone Delivery, quickly pivoted his drone delivery business in Ireland to begin home delivery of prescribed medications directly from pharmacies. “Where people are forced to think differently, they definitely do, and they act differently as well, so it’s been a really interesting learning experience for us,” Healy said. He highlighted puncture repair kits, birthday cakes, and eggs as surprising drone delivery orders received during the pandemic.
Miao Song, Global CIO for Mars Petcare, the largest pet-care company in the world, said her company launched digital direct-to-consumer capabilities in response to the pandemic to accommodate pet-owners in new markets and to meet shifting demand for home-delivery. She said one of the key lessons from the company’s quick pivot was the importance of shortening the decision-making process, and she hopes this new agility is a skill that will carry over from the crisis.
Dr. Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon Health, a digital healthcare provider via mobile application, said the company saw the demand for healthcare immediately almost quadruple during the pandemic. “What we thought was an innovation became the norm incredibly quickly,” Parsa said, and he highlighted that the biggest change to come out of the pandemic is the understanding that, “just taking what exists in the physical world and putting it into the digital world does not solve anything.” To illustrate this point, Parsa said Babylon had to discover how to use technologies like AI and employ non-doctor medical professionals to successfully meet the growing demand for digital healthcare from more people.
Johann Butting, VP of EMEA for Slack, a digital business communications platform, said Slack has seen a “massive surge” in both the number of users and the amount of usage during the pandemic. He mentioned that one key learning from this time is that “you must be willing to make radical decisions.” Butting said many of Slack’s customers view the Covid crisis as an opportunity to re-think how their companies work, and he thinks maintaining alignment with the team is the single biggest challenge for business leaders.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Founder and Executive Chair of Snoop, said she hopes customer demands are leading change in business right now, and she called technology “the most important way” we can deal with this new normal. Gadhia’s new online-banking app, Snoop, launched in beta in January and the company opted to accelerate its official live launch in order to accommodate increased customer demand due to the pandemic. Gadhia says the app is now seeing more than a thousand downloads per day.
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