The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has forced business, education, and social activities to be conducted virtually. But amidst the crisis, platform companies are enabling video conferencing, food, grocery and essential supplies delivery, AI-driven COVID-19 tracking, social connectivity, and entertainment for a restless population sheltering in place. Providing this sense of “normalcy” is becoming more important every day as people across the world adopt new digital behaviors.

Digital behavior changes due to COVID-19

Accenture analysis of change in digital behaviors due to COVID-19

Source: Google Surveys1, 2 and Accenture analysis

With an expected increase in global reliance, platform companies must act now to implement essential functions that come with this vital cross-industry leadership role. The challenge will be managing current business while laying the groundwork for future recovery and growth.

The 5 essentials platforms must get right. Now.

Based on our work in major platform hubs from Silicon Valley to Seattle, and Shenzhen to Hangzhou, we believe leaders should focus on five areas for short-term continuity and long-term success:

1. Provide continuous global accessibility

Platforms have taken the weight of society’s need for information, to stay connected, work, operate businesses, and stay entertained.

Next steps:
  • Review end-to-end points of failure
  • Accelerate use of AI in key tasks
  • Critically review and optimize service offerings
  • Help accelerate the journey to cloud
  • Shift from crisis management to risk management and forward planning

2. Enable changing behaviors

Platforms must lead with humility as new purchase and digital behaviors will almost certainly benefit platforms over the longer term.

Next steps:
  • Provide tools and holistic services
  • Educate newcomers with intuitive products and support
  • Rekindle goodwill across communities and SMBs
  • Infuse creative and innovative methods of working and social engagement into existing products
  • Proactively identify and address user challenges across platform features

3. Build long-term customer relationships

Platforms can rekindle confidence by enabling normalcy and demonstrating responsible behavior toward information and people.

Next steps:
  • Provide elastic and empathetic support
  • Accelerate to scale and meet growing demand
  • Critically evaluate product and support roadmaps to ensure user satisfaction

4. Provide trusted information & combat bad actors

The scale, speed, and seriousness of information dissemination has created clear opportunities for AI.

Next steps:
  • Use this time to review governance policies and develop collaboration across the platform industry
  • Refine the balance between human and machine
  • Review company policies, AI, and operations to help prevent the spread of misinformation

5. Enable a rapid return to growth

Companies deeply impacted by the crisis will turn to platforms for their resiliency, scale, cost effectiveness, enterprise services and audience.

Next steps:
  • Help companies across industries transition to the cloud
  • Connect new audiences with unique services
  • Identify areas where AI could improve service
  • Ensure platforms are “built global” and thoroughly localized for specific market regions
  • Provide continued, flexible support to ecosystem partners
  • Reengage with advertisers early to instill confidence

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Act now to protect against future crises

The COVID-19 crisis is a human tragedy that will have a lasting impact on our lives. Platforms are in a unique position to help resolve wide-spread challenges as the crisis unfolds. As a result, platform companies will likely experience increased adoption and digital behaviors that will remain long after the crisis is over.

Platforms play a vital role in helping their employees, customers, ecosystem partners, and communities weather the COVID-19 crisis. Leaders must act now to create normalcy and stability while laying the foundation for growth and protection against future crises.

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