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Software providers seeing light at end of pandemic tunnel

06 Jul 2020

The Australian Business Software Industry Association (ABSIA), a not-for-profit association representing the Australian business software industry, has released the results of its industry survey on the impacts of COVID-19. 

ABSIA’s Business Software Industry COVID-19 Impacts Report provides insights into the industry and how software providers are responding and recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

“While our survey revealed that the business software industry has not been immune to the impacts of COVID-19, the majority of our members responded effectively during the pandemic and are optimistic about the future of their businesses,” says ABSIA director and president Chris Howard.

Over half (54%) of respondents experienced considerable to major immediate or short-term impacts from COVID-19, with a further 35% experiencing few or minimal impacts. 

For approximately 10% of respondents there was no impact or change as a result of the pandemic.

Interestingly, while nearly one third (32%) of respondents are worried about the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on their customers, the same percentage reported a small or large increase in customers during that period.

Three quarters (74%) of the companies surveyed didn’t reduce staffing levels during the pandemic, and more than half (55%) expect to increase staffing levels in the next six months, either to grow (48%) or to refill (6%).

A resounding 66% believe that the next 12 months will be a significant time for innovation and technological change, with a much smaller percentage uncertain (17%).

“Innovation and technological change will be critical to Australia’s road to recovery and the ongoing resiliency of our economy. The business software industry can play a key role in that, but a lot also depends on the government’s policy direction and what that does to foster business and consumer confidence,” adds Howard.

ABSIA’s survey also uncovered the industry’s ability to adapt and respond to the challenges of COVID-19, and the longer-term impact of the pandemic on their businesses. 

When asked if they will be implementing changes in how they operate, 39% responded that they would, while 32% said that they would not. 

However, feedback from this second group indicated that they had already largely implemented more flexible and distributed working, as well cloud-based systems and products.

AccountKit, an Adelaide-based provider of integrated cloud applications for accountants and bookkeepers, was able to keep the business operating by relying on videoconferencing calls and Slack collaboration to replace their daily stand-up meetings. 

Additional functionality was included in its software to meet the specific requirements in response to COVID-19, such as payment deferrals, and the team was a lot more hands-on and engaged with existing clients.

AccountKit has also seen an uplift in business in the last few weeks, with accounting firms who had struggled to access their systems during the lockdown realising that they need flexible, cloud-based applications to operate more resiliently in the future.

Cloud-based recruitment software provider FastTrack implemented its business continuity plan in early March to safeguard its service and Melbourne team, a large number of whom were using public transport to travel into the office. 

FastTrack was already well prepared for the scenario with the implementation of ISO27001 and an existing working from home policy with staff who had already been regularly working remotely.

FastTrack has been flexible with its subscription-based services, providing free access to add-ons like Geo-Location to help place candidates close to the job for safety and even freezing fees for those customers who have gone into hibernation, so that the services can be quickly switched back on once they resume business. 

The company has seen a significant downturn in the job market, which has had a flow-on effect to its customers, who are primarily in the recruitment and staffing sectors.

 However, that has already started to rebound by around 10%, and is continuing to improve. 

With its customers nervous about the ongoing impact of COVID-19, FastTrack worked quickly to develop analytics tools to interrogate its own systems data and report on industry trends. 

The end result is a weekly industry report that is providing its customers with far greater insight and certainty about the future of the sector.