How local digital leaders responded to the COVID-19 crisis

By Tobin Harris, June 17, 2020

Managing Director at Pocketworks, app development specialists.

Planning Your App 

Image credit Benjamin Elliott /

If you're leading digital projects right now, you've probably had to cope with a lot of change. A lot of change in a very very short timeframe. The Yorkshire and UK businesses we work with have each been affected differently. Some have been forced to slow down completely, others have pivoted to offer new services, and many have pushed ahead with their existing digital plans. Here's a quick round-up of what I've seen over the last few months.

New services and offerings

Some of our clients immediately paused their current feature development backlogs in March and started focusing on responding to the crisis. For example, those in the taxi industry suffered a drop in bookings, so they had to quickly look at alternatives such as Click and Collect and fast food deliveries. 

Digital teams were tasked with getting the tech pieces in place to bring new services online within weeks. I've seen some incredible pivots over the last few months, and also some incredibly stressed out CTO's  :) It's amazing how projects that usually take months or years to excute have been done in weeks.

Bold streamlining steps

We also saw companies using the downtime to pull off some major structural changes to reduce long-term costs. For example, merging business units or sites. This kind of re-org can require some significant changes to IT, apps and cloud services. There is a lot of sense to making such big tech changes during the quiet times when the disruption to customers will be minor. 

Startup investment pulled

In late March we sadly saw two Yorkshire entrepreneurs immediately see their funding pulled. It suddenly became a bad time for investors to move money around, or to finance high risk ventures. Founders are plugging away looking for new investors, but I believe it's tough out there right now.

New grants

Goverment funding became available for COVID-19 related projects. It was great to see such a large call for innovation, and Accellerate UK was inundated with applications. 

Travel took a big hit

I really feel for friends in the travel industry. Basically, from what we saw, everything went on pause. I think there are glimmers of hope now but it's been really tough for anyone in the travel sector. 

Construction slowed but then came back

Construction seemed to slow and then stop, but then pick up fairly quickly again too. Some of our construction clients decided to use the time to pause their digital initiatives, others have used it as an opportunity to fine tune their software platforms and apps. Walking around Leeds these past few weeks, construction was the only thing going on just before the shops reopened.

Advanced Manufacturing goes on

Many of the electronics/smart hardware manufacturers we've worked with seem to be cracking on through all this. Their product development cycle can be years, and innovation and R&D is central to what they do. So, many are continuing to do this despite the economic uncertainty. Of course, their actions will depend on the sector their in. Some of our manufacturing clients have had to slow down and wait for their customers to become active again.

The Leeds Digital Festival was virtually awesome

It was amazing watching the LDS switch to online delivery in no time whatsoever. I was worried  they'd cancel it amongst the mayhem in March, but Stuart Clark and his team were having none of that! The Leeds Virtual Digital Festival was a brililant success and I hope they do a virtual one every year. On a personal note, being a father of two young girls, I found it very convenient being able to attend events without the overhead of travel. I'm really looking forward to the "physical" event later this year too.


Chat with Tobin

If you'd like to discuss this topic or anything else, drop me a line. The best way is to contact Pocketworks and arrange a chat over a coffee, Zoom or phone.

About Pocketworks

Pocketworks believes that software should lighten the load and make life easier for people. We're a digital product studio. We can help your create human-centered apps and websites that grow your customer base and increase efficiency.
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