Covid-19 has taken digital transformation mainstream – cloud is vital to sustaining this momentum | Cloud industry forum

Covid-19 has taken digital transformation mainstream – cloud is vital to sustaining this momentum

Ancoris and Cloud Industry Forum research suggests there is still progress to be made to ensure long-term lessons from pandemic are learned

While digital transformation has been happening in organisations for many years now, the events of 2020 have forced companies to accelerate the pace of this change and make preparations to ensure this change will be permanent. This is according to the latest research issued by Cloud Service Provider Ancoris, in conjunction with the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

The research, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne prior to the lockdown, surveyed UK-based IT and business decision-makers and sought to understand how they were exploiting cloud and other next-generation technologies, and the barriers standing in the way of adoption.

David McLeman, CEO of Ancoris, stated: “The pre-pandemic picture was generally a positive one, in which 80% of UK businesses either had a digital transformation strategy in place or were in the process of implementing one. Of those who had not yet brought in such a strategy, almost all planned to have one in the next 12 months. The exception to the rule was the manufacturing sector, where only 18% claimed to have a defined digital transformation strategy in hand.

“Lockdown has likely turned many of these plans on their heads. The very survival of office-based organisations has hinged on their ability to adapt and go remote as quickly as possible, while sectors such as manufacturing have suffered from severely reduced output and demand. Making plans to digitise processes and maximise the impact of technology are even more critical now.”

Alex Hilton, CEO, Cloud Industry Forum, stated: “Digital transformation is a well and truly established concept, with only a tiny minority of our sample not embracing it in some way prior to the lockdown.  The disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has surely been the ultimate test for these strategies. Were organisations able to translate these plans into definitive action when the lockdown began, or did they come up short?”

When it comes to how important cloud was perceived to be prior to the coronavirus outbreak, a quarter (25%) of respondents in business and professional services considered it critical to their ongoing digital transformation. The picture was similar for the public sector (23%) and retail (22%), which paints an encouraging picture of an environment where cloud plays a major part in both public and private organisations. Interestingly – despite its wider reputation for innovation – financial services was the only sector where fewer than one in five (19%) described cloud as critical.

“For many sectors, remaining productive during lockdown depended on their cloud-readiness. Being able to operate without relying too heavily on on-premise technology was key and will remain vital in the more digitally minded organisation of the future,” added Mr McLeman.

Key findings include:

  • Over a quarter (28%) of businesses have a fully formed digital transformation strategy in place, and over half (54%) are in the process of implementing one
  • Cloud is critical to 22% of respondents’ digital transformation projects and very important to 60% of the sample
  • Organisations are continuing to harness the benefits of cloud, with 93% now using cloud-based services in one form or another
  • 71% of businesses plan to build new applications for the cloud in the future, moving away from legacy in favour of a more cloud-native approach, and 87% expect to increase their use of cloud in the next year
  • The pre-pandemic picture across verticals in this case was a fairly positive one. For a third of those in financial services (33%) and 31% of those in business and professional services, their company was doing more than enough to fully digitise, with the other sectors not too far behind.
  • An average of 25% of total respondents said that they do not get enough assistance from partners to help them digitise, rising to 41% for business and professional services, and around a quarter for manufacturing, retail and the public sector.

Mr Hilton continued: “The switch to almost universal remote working has forced organisations to speed up this digitisation process, and those sectors that still required the physical presence of employees – such as manufacturing – have often had to maintain their operations using limited resources. Achieving the right long-term blend of digital technologies and human input will be integral to the recovery of all sectors.

Mr McLeman added: “Even before lockdown, organisations’ challenges were diverse and varied heavily according to the nature of the sector in which they operate. The impact of the pandemic will squeeze organisations even further in the coming months, so an emphasis on efficiency and collaboration between businesses will be key.  Whether it is a lack of people, skills or budget, external partners have a leading role to play in helping companies continue their digitisation journey in a post-Covid world.”

“The next phase should be for external partners to position themselves as an increasingly integral component of the ongoing digital transformation process, by ensuring that lessons learned from Covid-19 lead to permanent, positive changes,” concluded Mr McLeman.

The research is available as a White Paper, Digital Transformation Goes Mainstream, and can be downloaded from here.

 

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