It’s now been six months since the pandemic really started to disrupt everyday life in the UK, and as we reflect on that period it’s abundantly clear there has been a huge amount of change as organisations, families and individuals do their best to adapt and survive.
One of the most obvious and striking examples of this is the rapid Digital Transformation that we have all experienced - be it enabling remote-working, facilitating home-schooling, or allowing businesses new ways to engage with their customers. I’ve seen this urgent need for digital transformation play out first-hand during my time as a volunteer for the fantastic Scottish Tech Army as they help countless organisations adapt to the crisis.
I’ve spent the last month reconnecting with clients and speaking to as many people as possible from my technology leadership network across the UK. It’s been fascinating to hear their individual Digital Transformation stories, and understand why for many businesses and leaders this enforced transformation offers a potential opportunity to shift the needle and accelerate business evolution. So, what are the key trends?
Digital Transformation acceleration
Starting with the most obvious, there has been a dramatic acceleration and investment in Digital Transformation. This is something I’ve heard anecdotally from multiple clients as many talk of achieving a transformation in a period of months that would typically take years. This is backed up by a recent large-scale global report revealing that Covid-19 has been the “Digital accelerant of the decade”. The report surveyed thousands of enterprise level decision makers and found that on average it sped up their Digital Transformation plans by six years. Furthermore, many of the typical inhibitors to innovation were removed, such as getting executive approval, or reluctance to replace legacy software. Over a third of the UK organisations in the survey said their Digital Transformation budget had dramatically increased.
A sector split?
Rapid Digital Transformation has not been universal across all sectors, and as always, the picture is a bit more nuanced. For obvious reasons sectors such as Healthcare and Retail have seen huge transformation, but there has also been considerable change within financial services, energy and construction.
As companies rapidly look to increase their virtual operations, the cloud infrastructure has become even more crucial. A key enabler to many firms Digital Transformation plans will be strengthening their cloud services, be that infrastructure, applications or security tools. A recent global survey of IT leaders revealed that 82% said they had ramped up their cloud adoption as a direct result of the pandemic.
A highly distributed workforce requires digital solutions
The pandemic has led to many organisations suddenly having a highly distributed workforce that has to juggle multiple challenges such as home-schooling, flexible hours, and working remotely. This requires firms to be as agile and adaptable as possible and utilise tools to facilitate collaboration and teamwork. Key examples would be Workload Management tools such as Kanban, Slack for team communication, and Virtual Project Management tools such as Trello, Wrike and Jira.
AI and RPA crucial to this transformation
Due to the increased pace of real-time demands, AI and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) will prove crucial in transforming operations. Even beyond the pandemic, firms are looking to automate as many processes as possible to protect themselves from future disruption. There is huge investment in this space from Microsoft and Amazon, as well as the established RPA players such asUiPath, Pega, amongst others. A US report predicts a 30% increase in the RPA space over the next six years.
What does this mean?
What all of this points to is that many businesses are at a crucial crossroads, where the choice is simple – adapt or die. There is enormous appetite to ensure that the technology & software embedded within businesses is more robust, efficient and future-forward. However, part of the challenge is the leadership mindset.
Senior leaders who hold the decision-making power are themselves at a point of radical self-transformation. The trends show that successful leadership comes from a complimentary leadership team making collective decisions which are informed from the bottom up. As businesses move from the crisis phase of Covid-19 to the planning and future phases, having the right leadership team in place will be one of the defining factors of survival.
If you want to chat further about how to ensure your business has the right skill-sets to deliver technology adoption and how a forward-thinking leadership team could work for your business, or any of the themes discussed in this article, please get in touch with me over here.
The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in September 2020. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.