If you’re an IT pro trying to persuade your bosses that digital transformation is a must, your job has gotten easier — and harder. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant C-suite executives, many previously resistant to change, are “rapidly accelerating digital transformation,” according to a new study from IBM. But don’t expect a blank check to get the job done as cost control is a top mandate.
The study found that traditional barriers to digital transformation — opposition from employees and lack of technological expertise — “have fallen away” as companies face the realities of COVID-19. Two-thirds of executives surveyed for the study said they recently “completed initiatives that previously encountered resistance.” And 59 percent of surveyed companies said the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated their digital transformation plans. Digital transformation is becoming even more crucial as COVID-19 cases are surging again worldwide.
Digital transformation and COVID-19: The onus falls on IT pros
IT pros are increasingly being tasked with serving a hybrid workplace of employees in the office or working remotely from home. They are also pressured to cut costs as the pandemic’s economic uncertainties take their toll, with concerns that economic fallout in the future may be even worse. This was borne out in the study: 87 percent of respondents say controlling costs is paramount.
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. — Mark Foster, senior vice president, IBM Services
Because of the pandemic, executives said they are planning to move more of their operations to the cloud. The top two business functions they expect to move are customer engagement and marketing. IBM notes that digital transformation and the migration to the cloud will “require a more scalable and flexible IT infrastructure.” IBM says adopting artificial intelligence, Agile principles, and DevOps techniques can speed digital transformation to the cloud.
Meanwhile, amid this transformation and upheaval, the study found remote workers are “dealing with heightened personal stress and uncertainty” and have expectations that their company will support them physically, emotionally, and technologically. Yet, there is a major disconnect. The study found that 80 percent of executives said they “are supporting the physical and emotional health of their workforce.” But only 46 percent of employees said they felt any physical or emotional health support from management.
Cybersecurity a top priority
Executives also understand the increasing risks of digital transformation, especially in the age of COVID-19. Three-quarters said they plan to make cybersecurity a top priority — that’s double the number deploying digital transformation cybersecurity technology today.
The study was compiled from a survey of 3,800 C-suite executives in 20 countries covering 22 industries.
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