COVID-19 has sped up digital transformation efforts

"Digital transformation" in front of a person in an office

According to a survey by German software firm Software AG, almost all businesses worldwide have undergone digital transformation projects over the last year, and the coronavirus pandemic was a major driver of these changes.

The survey of IT leaders in the US, UK, Germany, and France found that 97% of IT directors said their companies went through digital transformation efforts in 2020. The same number of directors expect that investment to continue in 2021.

Almost all companies (97%) believe their business is resilient, while 95% believe technology will help them tackle future challenges. Of those surveyed, 90% believe customer expectations will increase in 2021.

However, the survey found some significant differences in opinion on whether to consolidate (50%) or diversify (48%) tech portfolios, whether to prioritize product and process (48%) or customer support and service (52%) improvements.

Of the technologies essential in 2021, global IT leaders listed the following as areas of focus: cloud computing (67%), 5G (51%), artificial intelligence (AI) (43%), and integration (43%).

The report identified three key trends that had happened over the last year. It said that some digital transformation projects had been characterized by delays, limiting their impact.


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“The Covid-19 pandemic prompted more digital investment and a requirement to put measures in place quickly. It has shocked transformation efforts back into action,” said the report’s authors. They added that more businesses are now ready to change and are finally at a stage where their technology can transform "the world around them."

The second trend was that millennials had become decision-makers, resulting in companies deploying and embracing technology in new ways.

The last major trend the report mentioned was resilience-building technology becoming more important than big-bang innovation.

“The instability of 2020, and likelihood that it will continue in the future, means that companies see much more immediate and tangible requirements to change. Whether it’s geo-political, healthcare or economic, the factors testing business resilience are simply too compelling to be ignored,” the report said.

Dr Stefan Sigg, CPO, at Software AG, said the COVID pandemic redefined digital transformation in the enterprise.

“While transformation has been an imperative that IT leaders have been championing for years, it took these historic circumstances for many business leaders to make it a priority,” he said.

“The resulting acceleration was nothing short of miraculous, albeit necessary. Organizations had to take some big dramatic steps – and in some cases a leap of faith – to make their businesses work in the most difficult circumstances. The reward is that the benefits will stretch well beyond the pandemic.”

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.