Unit4 surveyed business and IT decision makers and users working in service industries in August and September 2020, to understand how well organizations are embracing innovation and adapting to the challenges of the pandemic.
Growing people-centric innovation
The study shows that 84% of global decision makers are accelerating their digital transformation plans, in response to growing demands from users, who want more flexibility to work remotely in the future.
During COVID-19, global decision makers cited three main impacts on their enterprise applications strategies. They have become more agile in their planning (49%) and acknowledge the pace of innovation (42%) has increased, while 35% say it has sped up their investment in moving to the cloud and 24% are more comfortable failing fast.
They’ve also outlined specific priorities to enable workforces to be more productive, which shows that innovation has become much more focused on the needs of users.
As decision makers look ahead to future strategies, the research identifies the top three priorities for users, which decision makers must respond to:
- Having the freedom to access IT systems so they can work from anywhere
- Better tools for collaboration
- Increased automation to reduce their workloads.
Consequently, decision makers say their future IT plans are very people-centric, listing their main objectives as: wanting to enable the flexibility of remote working, creating environments to encourage greater collaboration and empowering employees to be more productive, as well as meeting the demands of customers. Decision makers believe this is achievable by focusing on three tech-based priorities:
- Building a simple and intuitive user interface and experience – 43%
- Using automation to simplify and speed up workflows – 39%
- Enabling users to communicate with enterprise applications using their preferred tools, such as Slack and WhatsApp – 38%
The adaptable organization
As many organizations transitioned to remote working during 2020, a positive outcome has been that 60% of global users say they have been more productive during lockdown. They are also predominantly satisfied that their IT systems have helped them to get the most out of their roles.
It is perhaps unsurprising that 84% of global decision makers want to encourage colleagues to work remotely more often following the lockdown, which is mirrored by 69% of global users who also want the same flexibility.
Clearly, now that organizations have proven their enterprise IT systems can handle the demands of a remote, distributed workforce there is confidence they can sustain the model.
However, there are challenges ahead, as 34% of global decision makers say they must break down silos of information across their organizations and 31% of users are reluctant to change.
On a more positive note a resounding majority (84%) say that the pandemic is forcing meaningful board discussions about future strategy, which clearly shows C-Suite decision makers are engaged.
Traditional on-premise IT systems not capable of reacting to rapid change
77% of global decision makers also believe traditional on-premise IT systems and enterprise applications are not capable of reacting to rapid change, hence why 86% say the cloud offers more flexibility, with more than two-thirds expecting their enterprise applications to be fully cloud-based in the next two years.
“New ways of working, initially broadly imposed by the global pandemic, are morphing into lasting models for the future,” said Mickey North Rizza, program vice president for IDC‘s Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce research practice.
“Permanent technology changes, underpinned by improved collaboration, include supporting hybrid work, accelerating cloud use, increasing automation, going contactless, adopting smaller TaskApps, and extending the partnership ecosystem. Enterprise application vendors need to assess their immediate and long-term strategies for delivering collaboration platforms in conjunction with their core software.”
“If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that the business environment can change almost overnight, and as business leaders we have to be able to reimagine our organizations and seize opportunities to secure sustainable competitive advantage,” said Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4.
“Our study shows what is possible with continued investment in innovation and a people-first, flexible enterprise applications strategy. As many countries go back into some form of lockdown, this people-centric focus is crucial if businesses are to survive the challenges of the coming months.”