During the last two years, the global pandemic has put a firecracker under the fitness industry’s digital journey. Through periods of lockdown, the value of being able to maintain a connection to members remotely has been unequivocally proven, supported by the consumers’ willingness and ability to engage. So, it is fair to conclude that, as an industry, we need to continue to invest in digitalizing our services, maintaining relevance in a world that is increasingly driven by digitalization.
The May 2020 McKinsey report, “The Covid-19 recovery will be digital: A plan for the first 90 days,” found that as a result of the first pandemic-induced lockdown, the world jumped ahead five years in consumer and business digital adoption in a period of around eight weeks.
Digitalization is all around us. It drives the way we shop, the way we obtain information, the way we enjoy entertainment, the way we order takeout and taxis. Digitalization is influencing the way we engage with products and services in all aspects of life. As an industry, we need to be a part of this new digital age or we risk being left behind and disappearing into insignificance.
What do we mean by digital transformation?
The term digital transformation means the integration of digital technology across all aspects of a business, fundamentally changing operations and the consumer experience.
Where is the fitness industry on its digital transformation journey?
To shed some light on this question, ukactive in partnership with ReWrite Digital, as part of its input to the 2021 Digital Futures report, invited 12 ukactive operator members to complete a multiple choice survey covering more than 40 individual measures across five digital classifications. The results would then establish a digital maturity and effectiveness score.
Individual scores were combined to result in an average score of 55 percent, placing the industry in the United Kingdom at “digital experimenter” level, roughly halfway along the digital pathway. Although data is not directly comparable, this places the fitness industry behind sectors such as retail, financial services, automotive and fast-moving consumer goods, suggesting there is still much to be done.
Even though the evidence documented in this report is focused on the UK market, operators around the globe face the same challenge – how does a sector driven by brick-and-mortar facilities maintain relevance in a world that is digitally driven?
What are operators’ thoughts on digitalization?
In October 2021, at its in-person annual conference, ukactive hosted a session exploring operator sentiment around the topic of digitalization.
During the session, operators were invited to take part in a live survey. It was encouraging to learn that 98 percent of operators taking part said digital will play a significant role in their future operations. This statistic was mirrored in the ukactive Digital Futures report, which also found that 50 percent of operators agreed that digital will play a critical role moving forward. So, there is a general understanding of the importance of transformation.