These are uncertain times. Now more than ever, our community must come together to face the COVID-19 crisis. No living generation has seen a global economy face such counterproductive conditions in order to protect human health.
The pandemic delivered a shock to organisations across the UK both large and small. The ever-changing pressures of lockdown and potential further waves have emphasised the criticality of areas including remote working, business agility and digital customer engagement. Up and down the country business resiliency plans have been put to the test.
A recent Omdia survey of over 300 UK companies commissioned by IBM discovered 78% believe their business continuity/disaster recovery plans were inadequate or short-sighted. They just weren’t prepared. However, at a time when business infrastructure was severely disrupted, 88% agreed that technology helped them to mitigate the impact of the crisis.
As I start my new role as the new Chief Executive for IBM in the UK and Ireland, I wanted to share further insights from our research and provide recommendations to help current leaders and the leaders of tomorrow accelerate digital transformation.
Survive and Revive
Organisations across all sectors have been forced into survival mode and consider technology a life-jacket for survival, bolstering digital capability to aid business continuity for employees, customers, supply chains and operations. In fact 85% of respondents made new investments to manage the shift to remote working.
Companies that were further advanced in their digital transformation programmes were better equipped to meet the challenges of lockdown. While 98% of companies who were in the early stages of digital transformation felt that they should have invested earlier in data-driven and cloud-based technologies.
Renew and Thrive
Organisations now have the opportunity to refocus their digital transformation efforts on customers and put greater emphasis on digital capabilities. According to our research, before the pandemic, 80% of companies had not fully implemented an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, but 68% of respondents will now prioritise this area.
Organisations are being pressed to accelerate digital transformation plans and are fundamentally rethinking workflows as a result of Covid-19. For example, the pandemic has led businesses to adopt hybrid strategies and shift many operations and offerings to the cloud. 95% of respondents agree that moving applications to the cloud had benefited their organisation during the pandemic, with 94% anticipating further investment to accelerate recovery. This will be augmented by investments in edge computing and IoT to further build out their digital platforms.
Reskilling the Nation
As we accelerate towards a more digitally enabled work environment the need for new digital skills is set to increase. To address the current skills gap in the UK, IBM has launched the SkillsBuild Reignite platform with partners including Open University, Institute of Directors, Jones Day and Social Enterprise UK so users can benefit from a wide range of free online coaching and learning. The platform will provide job seekers, entrepreneurs and small businesses with access to online coursework and mentoring support designed to help them develop the technical and professional skills needed to reinvent their careers and businesses. The quicker we all adapt to the new digital reality the better.
Throughout all the challenges of the last six months, we have been inspired by the resilience and creativity of UK business, government and wider society. It has not been easy and there are many challenges ahead. But COVID-19 is a turning point for digital transformation and I’m proud that technology is playing a fundamental role in driving the innovation helping to build resiliency for the future.