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COVID-19: Analyzing the Impact on Product Development

Most businesses are facing the consequences of the economic downturn during the COVID-19 crisis. And, as social distancing and lockdowns continue, many of them are in a quandary on approaching the problem.

Yet, the story might be different for Product Development companies as the world is pacing towards digital transformation.

With people confined to four walls of their homes, Product Development during COVID-19 is witnessing an increase in demand. However, revenues are still expected to be in the doldrums.

IBM reported first-quarter net income of $1.18 billion, or $1.31 a share, compared with $1.59 billion, or $1.78 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue declined to $17.57 billion from $18.18 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast adjusted earnings of $1.81 a share on revenue of $17.59 billion on average.MarketWatch

This does not stop the innovation curve though, even if that means more investments.

As a consequence, the organizational focus is being driven towards strengthing these major IT pillars — Cloud-based software development, cybersecurity, data, and infrastructure.

This accumulated graph for industries across sectors highlights the drastic change in spending over the past few months.

growth vs Decline in spending for tech industries during COVID-19

Needless to stay, if you are increasing your spending on Product Development projects, ensuring quality should be given a priority too. This way, the product development process will not only help achieve the right value proposition but will also adhere to the underlying security standards.

An Insight into the Current Product Development Industry Trends

If you have a look at the current Google Trends for the past one month or so, you’ll know how these broad product development terms are gaining popularity.

Interest across these product development domains has showcased a huge potential. But, to gain an advantage of this opportunity, you would have to have a business continuity strategy in place because planning is imperative to keep major development initiatives on track.

Product Development During COVID-19 — Industry Predictions

Here are some industry predictions for product development initiatives in various tech industry domains.

  • IoT (Internet of Things) — Although existing projects continue, New Product Development might hit a brick wall due to hampered research & development efforts.
  • SaaS Products — Companies that offer remote-work enabled SaaS products are witnessing an increase in demand as work-from-home becomes a reality.
  • Enterprise Software — The demand for in-house software that is customized to suit the specific needs of the business is also increasing.
  • Data Analytics Products — The software that masters in data analytics capabilities is also witnessing a surge in demand as they aid the healthcare sectors.
  • Security Products — This domain will also see an increase in demand to facilitate secure remote work.
  • e-Learning Products — The demand is high as online courses have been facilitated for students.
  • Cloud Infrastructure Services — As virtual workspaces define the new normal, demand for cloud infrastructure services is also magnifying.
  • On-Demand Products — The demand for these apps sees an increase too. But, only for the delivery of essential items such as medicines and groceries. As a result, various on-demand and eCommerce businesses are shifting their priorities to essential-delivery service models to stay afloat.
  • Video-Streaming Products — When most of the world sits at home, boredom becomes inevitable. This is why video streaming apps that are high on entertainment are gaining popularity.

Measuring the Extent of Roadblocks Ahead

While it may seem like the grass is greener for industries such as product development during COVID-19, it is not a smooth-sailing ride. Here are some factors that are jeopardizing the industry’s growth for an unforeseen future.

1. Remote Work = Virtual Network of Information = Cybersecurity Threats

As companies are shifting their gear towards distributed work models, the management of critical data & information becomes taxing. Cybersecurity threats are haunting product management companies as they do not have much control over their infrastructure.

The major consequences of such attacks include client information being compromised, clients losing faith in the organization, and staked reputation. This, in turn, is likely to cause business interruptions and loss of revenue if the impact exceeds the capacity to handle it.

For instance, Cognizant, America’s multinational IT services company has recently reported a Maze Ransomware attack in its remote work setup.

Although we are in the early stages of assessing this incident, the attack has caused and may continue to cause an interruption in parts of our business and may result in a loss of revenue and incremental costs that may adversely impact our financial results.Cognizant Security Incident Update

Their business continuity is most likely to stand still for now as their internal systems and client information has been compromised.

The current situation points at one thing — no matter how much demand your services receive during the crisis, cybersecurity threats can push your progress back to square one.

2. The Outsourcing Paradox

Businesses are considering layoffs and furloughs for their employees to handle the financial crisis. This, in turn, implies a reduction in in-service staff.

While this might seem to be the right decision for an organization, the software development companies might have to pay a heavy price.

Generally, clients pay outsourcing companies based on service-staff numbers. So, if the product teams get reduced, billing reduces too. It is a vicious cycle where one adverse event triggers another.

So, before considering cost-cutting, thinking around these factors should get precedence.

Many clients do not trust their data to be safe in a distributed network. They are worried about cybersecurity attacks and phishing activities that will make matters worse.

The consequence of this is that some product management companies still have staff placed in the physical spaces as they continue to work on critical projects of their global clients.

3. Use of Traditional Product Development Methodologies

While Agile Development has taken over traditional product development practices such as the Waterfall approach, some companies seem to be reluctant towards change.

Agile is the new normal now, and the sooner an organization realizes it, the better.

Agile implies — moving ahead and adapting changes on the way through iteration, unlike the Waterfall approach, where to and fro movement across development stages is not allowed.

Some product teams see Agile Development as a complicated process as compared to the Waterfall. But, these companies need to look at the bigger picture.

Continuous developments as new realities emerge get easier with the Agile development model, the benefits of which include —

  • Low cost of fixing bugs
  • Better product visions
  • Better team collaborations (even in remote setups)
  • Daily scrum standups for updates (through video communication apps)
  • Precedence to product mindset over the project mindset

Considering the volatility in product development during COVID-19, it can be concluded that software development initiatives need to speed up along with managing changing business & functional requirements.

To achieve such development goals — adapting Agile could be the right way forward.

The development methodology works in the form of sprints that covers epics (large user stories in agile) for faster delivery of the product.


Product Development companies are facing the biggest challenge so far — how to continue with business operations while dodging the effects of the crisis. Product development during COVID-19 continues to show optimal scope, but they wouldn’t be worth a dime unless you have a business continuity plan and an innovative mindset.

Consider and work towards solving the roadblocks — cybersecurity threats, outsourcing limitations, and use of traditional development methodologies. Only then will you be able to take on the next steps of the development phase within a distributed team setup.

Parting note — If you can make a difference in these disruptive times and create valuable products, you’ll be on your way to recovery (sooner than later) when all this ends.

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Amit Manchanda

About the Author

Designation: Project Lead
Forte: ASP, Adobe Flex and Android
Likes: Quick Communications and watching cricket
Dislikes: Not taking a self-starter approach
Claim to Fame: Had coffee with a Bollywood celebrity
Biggest Tech Blunder: Delivered the project with some missing libraries
Wannabe: Bollywood Star

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