The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most transformative events of the past century, forcing more people indoors and increasing the amount of time people spend online. 

Before the pandemic, people were already steadily increasing their internet use. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of online use, with the average American spending six hours and 59 minutes a day consuming content in September 2020.

An April 2021 report by Statista found an 18% year-over-year increase in monthly in-home data usage in March 2020. Education app downloads increased 1,087% year-over-year as students attend school digitally, just as parents worked remotely when possible.

Speaking of remote work, it’s here to stay. According to Upwork’s December 2020 Future Workforce Pulse Report, by 2025, the number of remote workers will increase 87% from pre-pandemic levels. Already, an estimated 26.7% of American professionals work remotely.

As internet traffic has drastically increased, that’s also resulted in more searches on search engines and higher expectations from users who are demanding a better online experience. According to Smart Insights, out of internet users ages 16 to 64 years old in July 2020:

  • 81% searched online for a service or product to buy.
  • 90% visited an online store or retail site.
  • 74% purchased a product online. 
  • 67% used a shopping app on a tablet or mobile device.
  • 52% purchased a product online on their mobile phone. 

For businesses, the pandemic led to the need for digital transformation to enhance the user experience across web platforms.

One important component of the digital transformation trend is website migrations. Website migrations can help increase your search engine visibility by altering or revamping your website with significant changes. 

Now’s the time to consider a website migration if you haven’t done one recently. There’s more engagement online than ever before, which also means more competition to grab that attention.

How the Pandemic Has Accelerated Digital Transformation

Digitalization isn’t new. Back in 2016, professor Klaus Schwab wrote a book called The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which also became the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting theme that year. 

This period of time is characterized by new technologies that “are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds.” As more populations relied on technology in the pandemic, these worlds combined more quickly than ever.

Some examples include:

E-Learning

In April 2020, the World Economic Forum reported more than 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom due to the pandemic. The overall market for online education is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025, up from global edtech investments reaching $18.66 billion in 2019.

Some education scholars have already declared that the current education system is losing relevance and that more focus should be on job readiness. E-learning may support emerging educational models, even after schools have welcomed kids back into classrooms. E-learning platforms may also expand education access to more students and put them more in demand. 

Remote Work

Even when employees can return to the office, higher numbers will continue to work remotely compared to pre-pandemic. 

A July 2020 Gartner survey of company leaders found 80% plan to allow employees to continue to work remotely for at least some of the time post-pandemic, while 47% will allow full-time remote work.

A PwC CEO survey found 78% agree remote collaboration will remain an option long-term. An August 2020 McKinsey & Company survey found executives planned to reduce office space by 30%. All these signs point to a greater need for digital transformation for employers and their workforces.

Digital Business Models

Firms that adopted digital business models during the pandemic were able to maintain and preserve revenue. Trends that were already happening pre-pandemic – including remote work, digitalization and the prevalence of digital infrastructure – have been expedited.

According to an October 2020 McKinsey Global Survey of executives:

As consumers have moved to online channels to shop and get services, industries and businesses have rapidly moved to meet the demand and interact with more customers through digital channels.

Healthcare & Public Health

Even in highly regulated industries like healthcare, there’s now a technology-first approach. According to McKinsey & Company, telehealth usage has increased 38 times from the pre-pandemic baseline. Other healthcare technologies like AI-enabled medical devices and blockchain electronic health records are also becoming more prevalent.

In public health, the establishment of digital technologies is likely to stick in the long term. For example, mobile applications like the NHS COVID-19 tracking app were created to track and trace the virus. Researchers developed artificial intelligence (AI) to learn more about the virus and create a vaccine.

In both personal healthcare and public healthcare sectors, medical providers and patients rely on technology to deliver and receive optimal care.

Digital Infrastructure Supports Digital Transformation

Another factor that has accelerated digital transformation is connectivity, which has steadily improved over time. Currently, 5G networks enable connectivity among users, devices, machines and objects. This high level of connectivity enabled many businesses and households in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to transition online after governments implemented national lockdowns.

Governments are increasingly putting the digital transformation at the front and center of policy agendas. They’re devoting more attention to emerging digital technologies such as AI, blockchain and 5G infrastructure, the latter of which is critical to support enhanced mobile broadband, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and AI applications.

As governments have adjusted their strategies in response to the pandemic and relied more on digitalization, the OECD recommends that they remain focused on minimizing the risk of exacerbating or creating new digital divides. A thoughtful website migration strategy may help mitigate those risks.

SEO and Website Migrations

According to the OECD, since the pandemic, some broadband communication services operators (such as those in the United Kingdom) have experienced a 60% increase in internet traffic compared to pre-pandemic. With connectivity improving and internet traffic increasing, people are adopting more searches on search engines in their daily lives. The need for search engine optimization (SEO) becomes an important step in digital transformation.

To support digital transformation, website migrations can apply beneficial changes to a site’s:

  • Content: adding, removing or hiding pages or content; introducing new languages
  • Design and user experience: changes that address user experience, including site performance and media changes
  • Location: changing a domain; moving or merging parts of the site
  • Platform: moving or upgrading a platform; integrating different platforms
  • Structure: site hierarchy, navigation, user journey and/or internal linking changes

The results can be significantly positive when implemented strategically, boosting SEO across a website as the user experience is also improved. Poor website migration can result in search engine ranking loss and a diminished user experience.

Because so much more of the population is spending significantly more time online, a website migration may be necessary for your business to optimize your user experience and your SEO.

Check out and download our trend report on the state of digital transformation in 2021 to find out more about how migrations can set strong foundations in our fast-pacing digital world.

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