COVID-19 pivot: Adapting our solution

Published on September 01, 2020

Earthquakes are high speed waves that shake the surface of the earth and can crack open a large territory in a matter of minutes. The most violent ones constrain people to rebuild their whole life and acclimate to a “new normal”. The shock of the COVID-19 pandemic shares similar traits with this natural phenomenon. It has forced the world to change suddenly, to defend itself against this new viral enemy and behavioural shifts will continue to arise in the months and years to come.

Businesses are no exception. The pandemic has overturned companies and principles established for years. Many large corporates were not used to remote working. In fact, they did not want to allow it as a way to control their workforce. In-person meetings were the norm and some employees used to spend several hours in transport just for 1-hour interview. To survive, they have had to rapidly adapt to the changing needs and respond to the new rules that have emerged. Transforming a business on such short notice is not an easy exercise. It exposes vulnerabilities but it can also accelerate the delivery of new, innovative ideas, making some players only stronger.

No Big Deal was founded right before the crisis hit Europe, which was quickly followed by the lockdown. Our core value proposition is to support community wellbeing and mental health, two elements that have increasingly received attention during this period. People started to remain at home and take up unhealthy habits. As things evolve, we can expect a majority of these people will want to get back in shape and will start to embrace new habits such as running, walking, working out, what you might call a fruitful routine. As a result, our reach potential could suddenly strongly increased. However, as a response, we needed to reflect and pivot to fit into the new lockdown policies as well as the new ways of living that will be maintained upon re-entering the post-Codiv world (e.g. working from home as a new norm, wellbeing at the core of one’s preoccupation, quality time with loved ones over screen time, …).

After a series of brainstorming sessions, we refined our technology roadmap to include two new challenges and to enter an additional revenue stream. In the following paragraphs, these three pivots will be described in more details providing additional clarity on the solution and the rationale behind them.

Quarantine directly causes a reduction in exercise and unhealthy shift in their digital balance, both proven to cause anxiety, stress, and chronic disease. Although our focus on creating healthy habits had never been more relevant, the initial proposed challenges (walking and running) were in contradiction with the lockdown policies. The quarantine duration being unknown, we had to tweak our solution to mitigate this risk while reinforcing the unique selling points (USP). To incentivise wellbeing without leaving home, two new challenge types were then envisioned, aligning the app to social distancing and long-term trends of remote working. These two items are next on our technology roadmap and will be developed in the coming months - Stay tuned! 

Due to the pandemic, employees also had to adapt the way they collaborate and employers had to find alternative solutions to keep the show going. Home working was forced to almost all market players to some degree at least, even to some that have always been reluctant to offer this perk to their employees due to misconceived beliefs and deeply established norms. Forcing change can sometimes have a positive impact. Benefits have emerged from the transition to the ‘new normal’, not only to the directly concerned parties, i.e. employers and employees but also to the external environments. Less daily commute, flexible time arrangements, additional quality time with family, financial savings are only a few advantages that white-collar workers have had the opportunity to experience during lockdown. Companies also realised how much can be delivered from home and consequently how much they could save from cutting off operating expenses (e.g. by sub-letting office space, saving on trip expenses, …). Finally, this shift also had a great impact on the environment through decreased pollution levels and cleaner air. However, if not managed properly, remote working may cause increased levels of stress, anxiety, detachment, and burnout. Indeed, blurring work and home lives can exacerbate feelings of mental and physical fatigue as some people end up working all the time. Additionally, the lack of social contact can cause detachment and loneliness. Lonely people get stressed more easily which can cause heart problems, depression, and even more.

We wanted to address some of these challenges by enabling corporations to gamify and incentivise wellbeing activities to keep their workforce physically and mentally healthy. By white-labelling the core functionalities of the mobile application and repacking the web platform with analytics dashboards, employers would be able to create, manage and track their own data-driven wellness campaigns. This would eventually lead to reduced burnout and churn rates while enabling a happier more efficient workforce. Our platform has been developed in such a way that we can roll out a white-label version in a matter while guaranteeing a total independency from any other legacy systems.

All these new ideas emerged from a situation no business could have anticipated; the timelines and real impact remains uncertain. Nevertheless, from difficult situations can emerge promising opportunities. It is also a good reminder of the criticality for any company without distinction of size, type or stage to continuously seek to innovate and find new ways to grow even during normal times. This can be done either by enhancing the core business or entering new, uncovered revenue streams with the ultimate goal, in both cases, to reinforce the company’s uniqueness on the market.

Quentin Delforge

Quentin Delforge

Quentin Delforge is a former Technology & Business Strategy Consultant for corporates and startups at Accenture. He has a proven track record in technology transformation, software delivery, operating model design and implementation as well as in project management. He holds a master’s degree in Intrapreneurship and Management of Innovation Projects from HEC Liège and the University of Tongji in Shanghai.