New Study: Pandemic Accelerated Businesses’ Digital Transformation​

work from home, young man with protective mask on his face working remotely with his laptop

New Study: Pandemic Accelerated Businesses’ Digital Transformation

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners have been implementing digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. In the new normal, these organizations are doing it at a much faster pace to provide more value to their customers and partners as the future remains uncertain.

work from home, young man with protective mask on his face working remotely with his laptop

This has been revealed in a recent study entitled “COVID-19 and the Future of Business” by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV). According to the report, six out of ten or 59% of global C-suite executives accelerated the pace of digital transformations in their respective organizations.

Old Barriers Brushed Aside

“For many, the pandemic has knocked down previous barriers to digital transformation, and leaders are increasingly relying on technology for mission-critical aspects of their enterprise operations,” said Mark Foster, senior vice president of IBM Services.

What Foster was referring to are traditional barriers like technological immaturity and employees opposing change, giving more space for leaders to execute digitization initiatives without resistance. 

The study also highlighted that business leaders want to achieve competitiveness and workforce resilience as they implement digital transformation. Aside from that, they are looking to reduce costs, increase competencies in crisis management, enterprise agility, cost management, workforce resiliency, innovation, and cash-flow managementall to secure and strengthen customer relationships and partnering opportunities.

“Our research suggests five key epiphanies from leading executives for the post-pandemic business landscape, offering new perspectives on digital transformation, the future of work, transparency, and sustainability,” the study says. 

Key findings (epiphanies) of the study:

  1. Digital transformation was never just about the technology.
  2. The human element is the key to success.
  3. Traumatic stress has hijacked corporate strategy.
  4. Some will win. Some will lose. But few will do it alone.
  5. Health is the key to sustainability.

These epiphanies will serve as a playbook for proactive leaders during this transitional period.

Some Hurdles Remain

Despite overcoming major barriers, IBM projects that in the next two years, some hurdles will still remain. This includes organizational complexity, inadequate skills, and employee burnout. Plus, there still remains a major disconnect between executives and their workforce–the former believing that the upskilling initiatives are being met while the latter knowing otherwise.

Role of Leaders

In the Philippines, 72% of business leaders believe they are supporting the physical and emotional health of their workforce, despite only 24% of these same executives are prioritizing workplace safety and security. This figure is relatively high compared to two years ago when it was just 2%.  

Because of this, IBM reminds executives to devise a transformational strategy that revolves around its employees. As of this writing, 20% of organizations are already prioritizing cloud technology and AI investments, 60% have already accelerated process automation, and 76% will be prioritizing cybersecurity.

“Looking ahead, leaders need to redouble their focus on their people as well as the workflows and technology infrastructure that enable them, we can’t underestimate the power of empathetic leadership to drive employees’ confidence, effectiveness and well-being amid disruption,” said Foster.

IBM-IBV’s report concludes, the reality for businesses has radically shifted over the course of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 and the Future of Business” integrates results from multiple proprietary surveys of consumers and business owners conducted from April through August 2020, punctuated by new data from executives across industries who collectively oversee USD 3.7 trillion in revenue.


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