Almost half of large New Zealand and Australian businesses and 20 per cent of smaller businesses say they will fully recover from the effects of this year's many disruptions by the end of the year.
That is one of the key findings of the 2020 Beyond Disruption Business Pulse study from leading global IT services provider DXC Technology and technology analyst firm Telsyte.
The study, derived from over 600 interviews conducted over two months with Australian and New Zealand business leaders (including CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CDOs – chief digital officers), centres on organisations' experiences in dealing with disruption.
DXC's New Zealand country leader, Stuart Dickinson, says the study highlighted two key elements: a surprising amount of optimism in spite of the well-publicised effects of the disruptions and the key role played by technology in mustering that optimism.
Dickinson says the pulse was completed before the full effects of the second lockdown and anecdotal evidence since was that "confidence had been knocked a little bit" but added: "There is a lot of optimism out there and, from a New Zealand perspective, a lot of businesses have realised what they have to do."
The majority (86 per cent) of large organisations from both sides of the Tasman believe they have managed the disruption well, compared to a lower proportion of small-medium enterprises (SMEs) – 61 per cent.
Almost half (48 per cent) of large organisations are confident they will fully recover by the end of the year, compared to just one in five SMEs. Half of respondents (54 per cent) believe it will take one to three years to fully recover. Only six per cent say it will likely take longer than three years to recover.
Dickinson says "an overwhelming majority" of organisations (82 per cent) see technology as a key enabler to managing disruption, a number which climbs even higher (92 per cent) for those with more than 1000 employees.
Two-thirds (68 per cent) of organisations believe their technology investments have helped them manage the current crisis well. In addition, most (80 per cent) have "fast-tracked" their modernisation with technology, and more than half (54 per cent) described themselves fully embracing a 'cloud first' policy.
After the disruption, 85 per cent of transtasman organisations felt more open to new and emerging technologies. Dickinson says New Zealand companies had a strong influence on the survey, with 214 New Zealand organisations polled along with 406 Australian.
"Australian and New Zealand businesses were compelled to transform almost overnight, and the majority rose to the challenge in an incredible display of resilience," says Dickinson. "Technology has been instrumental in enabling businesses to support a remote workforce and continuing to serve customers, but we have also seen an equally significant cultural shift take place.
"Many businesses, once reluctant to transform or adopt flexible working policies, have seen just how helpful these adjustments have been to manage the recent disruption. Now the paradigm has shifted, with businesses seeing technology as a gateway to productivity and cost efficiency to aid in their recovery," he says.
"That has certainly been the case in New Zealand – with real emphasis on employee engagement and an absolute focus on the need to spend on technology, even if that money has to be found from other parts of the organisation. Cybersecurity is also very much on the minds of New Zealand business leaders."
The 2020 Beyond Disruption Business Pulse revealed trends in terms of technology investment, cybersecurity, organisational culture, employee wellbeing, and data-driven decision making. Key findings include:
Tech spending to rise - Organisations plan to increase technology spending by an average of 5 per cent, climbing to 10 per cent for those with more than 1000 employees.
Focus on employees - With organisations now managing a remote workforce, the majority (67 per cent) say the focus of transformation efforts will be on employees. This marks a significant swing from 2019, when 61 per cent claimed transformation efforts were focused on customers. Most large organisations (70 per cent) have launched mental health programmes, personal development training to help build staff resilience; improving wellbeing programmes, increasing skills and training programmes are among top business priorities in the next 12 months.
Productivity on the rise - In 2020, 44 per cent allowed the majority of their staff to work from home compared to only seven per cent in previous years. That rises to 65 per cent for larger organisations with more than 200 staff. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) have expanded the responsibilities of employees, with many embracing multi-disciplinary roles. As a result, half (52 per cent) say they have cultivated a culture of productivity due to the current disruption; three in five expect to see increased productivity in the future.
Cybersecurity top priority - Nearly half (49 per cent) are seeing an increase in cyber-attacks, yet only 33 per cent are offering cybersecurity training for staff. In terms of recovery, the top business priority for organisations in the next 12 months is improving cybersecurity (79 per cent).
Data and analytics key focus - Organisations have identified the most important technology investments for the next 12 months as workplace modernisation (75 per cent), data analytics (72 per cent), cloud (68 per cent), cybersecurity (66 per cent), and modern business applications (66 per cent). Respondents are focusing on faster and easier access to trusted data for better decision-making (54 per cent) and improving analytics and data literacy skills across the business (46 per cent).
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