Covid-19 pandemic has sped up digital transformation in firms: Study

Almost all companies polled are seeking new ways of engaging their customers and stakeholders.
Almost all companies polled are seeking new ways of engaging their customers and stakeholders.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly accelerated digital transformation in companies, a study noted today.

It found that around 70 per cent of those polled here and across the world believe that the crisis stemming from Covid-19 has forced their business to move much quicker in adopting online tools. The poll by Twilio, a cloud communications platform, also noted that respondents expect digital communication strategies to be sped up by an average of six years as a result of the difficulties brought on by the crisis.

Twilio chief customer officer Glenn Weinstein said: "Over the last few months, we've seen years-long digital transformation road maps compressed into days and weeks in order to adapt to the new normal as a result of Covid-19.

"Our customers in nearly every industry have had to identify new ways to communicate with their customers and stakeholders - from patients to students to shoppers and even employees - essentially overnight."

The study polled 2,569 respondents from countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Britain, including 270 here. Half of the respondents were directors and the rest vice-presidents and executives.

Most of the participants agreed that enabling digital communication has been critical in addressing business challenges during the crisis. Almost all companies polled are also seeking new ways of engaging their customers and stakeholders as a result.

Meanwhile, more than 30 per cent felt barriers to transformation - the need to seek executive approval, the lack of a clear strategy, reluctance to replace legacy software, insufficient budgets or a lack of time - have been broken down amid the pandemic as firms move fast to shore up their operations.

Around 80 per cent said the crisis has even stimulated an increase in digital transformation budgets in their companies, while around 90 per cent added that their organisations are likely to expand online communication channels as the world reopens. One in three companies started using live chat and interactive voice response channels for the first time as a result of the pandemic.

Live chat functions, e-mails and videos were also increasingly used as communication channels.

 

When broken down by sectors, technology, energy and healthcare companies said they were most likely to speed up digital transformation. Construction and energy companies saw the greatest acceleration in their digital communication strategy specifically, while technology firms said they were very likely to expand in this area as the world reopens.

The energy, construction and finance industries added the most new digital channels during the pandemic, such as live chat and video functions.

  • 70%

    Percentage of those polled here and across the world who believe that the crisis stemming from Covid-19 has forced their business to move much quicker in adopting online tools.

    80%

    Percentage of those polled who said the crisis has stimulated an increase in digital transformation budgets in their companies.

Mr Weinstein said: "Cloud scale, speed and agility are enabling organisations to innovate faster than ever.

"We believe the solutions being built today will be the standard for digital engagement in the future."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2020, with the headline 'Pandemic has sped up digital transformation in firms: Study'. Subscribe