Digital transformation or bust: Report highlights digital-native necessity

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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation strategies as COVID-19 continues to shift the way people work, socialize and conduct business.

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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation strategies for companies across industries, as COVID-19 continues to shift the way people work, socialize, do business and more. On Thursday, WNS released a report titled "Business Transformation After the Digital Tipping Point," highlighting the necessity of digital transformation, challenges hindering these plans and more.

"The fact that COVID-19 has truly fast-tracked digital adoption finds resonance in the results of our survey – 73 percent of respondents expect to complete all of their digital transformation programs within five years," said Gautam Barai, chief operating officer at WNS, a business process management company.

SEE: Research: Video conferencing tools and cloud-based solutions dominate digital workspaces; VPN and VDI less popular with SMBs (TechRepublic Premium)

COVID-19 and accelerated digital transformation

Overall, the survey was conducted this spring involving 101 digital transformation leaders located in North America, Europa and Australia. Among enterprises that did not accelerate digital transformation due to the coronavirus pandemic, 90% lost business, according to the report. Virtually all respondents (97%) said they had "started delivering their digital transformation strategies" and about one-quarter (28%) said "digital is now part of their companies' DNA."

The report also highlights the necessity of digital capabilities as companies with lagging digital transformation deployments risk going under. When discussing organizations that "were slow to adapt to the new digital-only business landscape COVID-19 has catalyzed," 37% of respondents said these companies have "lost a great deal of business" and 26% said these companies "are struggling to survive," according to WNS.

Digital tools and workforce training

A portion of the report focuses on the hiring practices and programs companies are implementing to increase knowledge around these digital tools. Three-quarters of respondents (77%) said they've already provided executives with data literacy training to "ensure staff [has] the skills they need to work with data-driven technologies" and 22% plan to do so this year. To meet these objectives, 55% said they have "launched company-wide data literacy programs," 34% plan to hire data translators this year and 16% said they have already brought on these employees, according to the report.

Cyberattacks and network security

A number of recent cyberattacks have reverberated across critical aspects of the U.S. infrastructure ranging from domestic gas and meat production to local water supplies, bringing network security to the forefront for companies. Interestingly, 76% of respondents said challenges around digital transformation projects have been created as a result of a "lack of executive support for cybersecurity improvements," according to the report.

A portion of the report focuses on data governance maturity among respondent enterprises. Overall, only 1% of respondents described their level of data governance maturity as "expert" meaning the company has "automated processes in place to streamline [the company's] data governance practices and ensure staff can fulfill their roles comfortably."

SEE:  AI on the high seas: Digital transformation is revolutionizing global shipping (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The majority of respondents (51%) identified their level of data governance maturity as "intermediate," meaning the company has such a framework in place, but "struggle with data silos and a lack of awareness of individual data governance responsibilities," according to the report; other respondents described their company's level of data governance maturity as "advanced" (44%) or "beginner" (4%).

Cloud migrations

In the age of telecommuting work at scale, many companies have tapped cloud solutions to enable remote teams. According to the report, 77% expect their cloud migrations to be completed in the next two years and 68% anticipate they will "have digitized all client-facing and back-office processes," during this time.

Additionally, the report said COVID-19 has "accelerated the migration of data, applications and services to the cloud" by a full year for about one-third of respondents.

"These remarkable findings clearly demonstrate that businesses globally have recognized the urgency to take the lead in digital transformation today to adapt and thrive in an increasingly 'digital-only' world," Barai said.

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