We’ve been living in the digital age for a while now, but not until 2020 has digital become so urgent and essential. Indeed, new research from enterprise strategy firm SAP, with research partner IDC Canada, reveals that companies that were well into their digital transformation performed better through the COVID-19 pandemic—while companies without a robust digital strategy are being left behind.
The Canada-based study found that while 95 percent of enterprises surveyed had established a formal digital strategy, up from 85 percent in 2019, most companies were at wildly different stages on their journey to becoming a digitally transformed “intelligent enterprise.”
Of the 17 percent of Canadian enterprises identified as Intelligent Enterprise (IE) Leaders, 82 percent have a digital strategy that is fully integrated into the core of the business or is complete and already producing significant results. At the other end of the spectrum, 98 percent of Canadian enterprises categorized as IE Observers (14 percent) are only just beginning to build their digital strategies or executing on them. This divide in digital readiness has revealed a clear connection between COVID-19 resiliency and IE progress.
The study examined the impact of COVID-19 on organizations’ revenue, workforce, operational capacity, and facilities. While these core business functions have been impacted in two thirds of Canadian enterprises, IE Leaders have been more resilient, with 14 percent of IE Leaders indicating they expect a revenue increase during the pandemic.
“Over the five years that we have been conducting this study with IDC, Canadian organizations have progressed well on their journey to becoming Intelligent Enterprise Leaders. However, the pandemic has reinforced just how vital a fully incorporated digital strategy is to a business’s ability to be agile and—ultimately resilient—in the face of crisis and major shifts in the way they do business,” said Sam Masri, chief operating officer at SAP Canada, in a news release. “The silver lining is that organizations are realizing the value of technology and the need for a strategic approach to transformation.”
“Prior to COVID-19 we made some important decisions regarding our infrastructure that enabled us, through the ﬁrst few months of the pandemic, to be agile and nimble while we supported our Guests and Team Members,” said Alicia Samuel, vice president of information technology at Longos, in the release. “This meant that at the start of the pandemic, our e-commerce site was available to our Guests while we had unprecedented volumes of traffic on our websites, and we were able to shift quickly to introduce options such as ‘Buy Online Pick Up In-Store.’ Our infrastructure decisions and strong executive leadership during COVID-19 enabled us to continue to service our Guests and take care of our Team Members.”
The new study also found key attributes that have helped IE Leaders remain resilient through the pandemic:
- 49 percent of IE Leaders are very willing to adjust their workforce mix to support digital initiatives, compared with only 7 percent of IE Observers.
- 91 percent of IE Leaders believe it is very important to improve employee experience while improving customer experience, compared to 42 percent of IE Observers.
- 47 percent of IE Leaders have a change management strategy that is fully integrated into the digital strategy, as compared with IE Observers, who either are still developing a change management strategy or do not have one at all.
“According to our survey, 78 percent of IE leaders utilize digital technologies to make incremental and continuous changes to the core business,” said Tony Olvet, group vice president of Research Domains at IDC Canada, in the release. “Through COVID-19, this has allowed IE Leaders to remain agile and prioritize projects that enable them to stay resilient over the crisis and provide a foundation that will support recovery and growth in the long run—such as building resilient supply chains. In contrast, IE Observers have largely been focused on more fundamental initiatives to shore up internal operations, such as planning and finance.”