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Expect More Rapid Change In Digital World During 2021

After a dramatic year like no other, digital services will continue to be in demand in the 12 months ahead as the world adjusts to life with COVID-19, writes Matt Weston, director and co-founder of leading video and animation company Stone’s Throw Media.

Lockdown and the pandemic, along with the economic downturn, has led more people to go into the digital world for more aspects of their working and domestic lives than ever before.

Traditional businesses have been forced to adapt at speed to improve their online services, creating more demand for trusted digital providers. Activities normally conducted face to face or in person, have had to find online equivalents which are resilient and provide smooth user experiences.

Stone’s Throw Media has benefited for the increased appetite for digital expertise and in turn we are helping businesses to grow locally which is helping the economy. We have continued to produce videos and animations for clients, looking to share their stories with their target audiences, both internal and external, in engaging and entertaining ways.

But we have seen the greatest growth this year in the way COVID has accelerated the need for virtual events. A calendar full of events which brought people together has had to be replaced with online equivalents.

For Stone’s Throw Media this has included delivering the University of Wolverhampton’s staff awards purely online for the first time. The benefits of staging an awards night online has been the reduction in the bill for live dinner and presentation format and the chance to grow the number of people engaged, with 4000 views for the online version compared with the usual 150 attending.

We have also livestreamed the official opening of a £45 million campus for construction excellence situated on the site of a former Wolverhampton brewery. With Covid restrictions limiting the number of people allowed on the Springfield site for the unveiling, the virtual celebration was livestreamed culminating in a live link-up to an official ribbon cutting ceremony.

The event included a virtual tour of the new building, filmed using steadicams, drone technology and scenic shots taken at night. To add to the technical challenges, the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street were among those who took part with a mix of live appearances and messages of support.

We were fortunate that we had invested in new state of the art equipment in 2019, clearly unaware of the demand we would experience. 

These are the five trends we expect to see in 2021, irrespective of the medical progress made in vaccines and treatments:

1) Video consumption and demand from businesses will grow

Many companies which were unsure if they needed video to tell their story have now realised it is a fantastic tool for reaching people living and working remotely. Telling your story or putting across messages in either long form videos or short bite sized chunks via social media is not a luxury but a way of cutting through to reach your audiences.

2) Virtual events become the norm for 2021 and potentially beyond

The need for events to be staged via video links or digital channels will continue. The businesses that had not used virtual events or had plans in place have been hardest hit. The ones that have trialled or embraced it have thrived. If the alternative is to cancel an annual gathering or one needed to make progress, a digital option can more than replace it in 2021.

3) Change will be rapid

The pace is not going to ease because people are remote or maintaining social distancing. The rise of West Midlands success story Gymshark exemplifies how quickly things can change. The sportswear market is competitive, yet a young company has come from nowhere, marketed with user friendly, social media video. Who could be the Gymshark in your sector?

4) COVID will remain a public concern

Many business decisions will be driven by the pandemic and its impact upon staff and customers. Transparency about your approach and detailed information about your efforts will be vital. Demonstrating through video how your organisation is adjusting to Covid, as we delivered for our client Student Roost, could be a vital tool.

5) Enabling your staff will be vital

Giving your in-house team the tools to make video can increase the authentic image which your target audience expects. Many staff welcome opportunities to upskill and video can be a gateway to achieving this. A professional video looks great but there are a growing number of online courses to help staff develop. A growing part of our future business will be a Stone’s Throw portal which people can access to learn for themselves

In every industry there is going to be a business that does something disruptive. But nothing has been as disruptive as COVID-19 in getting all organisations to reassess their operations and their futures.

If we can be of assistance we will be more than happy to talk. We wish you all the best for 2021 and beyond!

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