A new white paper has formalized what we all knew: digital transformation is the new mandate, bar none.

By now, most readers would already know that the global pandemic has changed how business views digital transformation and given the world a glimpse of more trend changes to come.

For some formal insights, data from around 120 business leaders across the Asia Pacific region, Europe and the United States has provided insights on how enterprises are re calibrating their IT strategies to cope. A new white paper by telecommunications firm Telstra has identified the technological challenges and the industry outlook post-COVID-19.

The paper, Business Continuity, Flexible Working and Adaptive Infrastructure: Five Actions for When the Economy Reopens Following COVID-19 was conducted with business intelligence firm GlobalData to survey C-suites and IT decision-makers to understand organizations’ disparate responses to the pandemic.

Some key insights from the paper regarding IT priorities:

  • Expect accelerated digital transformation, and a redefinition of its meaning compared to the pre-COVID-19 era. Businesses have planned on recalibrating their digital transformation strategy with 93% stating they have changed their IT priorities either incrementally, significantly, or dramatically. Businesses are also updating their overall IT strategy, with the top priority for respondents across all regions being to set up policies for their remote workforce. This includes ensuring employees can connect securely while accessing their applications and data.
  • Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) for global events such as pandemics were nearly non-existent. Nearly one in 10 enterprises did not have a BCP before COVID-19. Of those organizations that did, almost a third (29%) did not have plans in place to respond to an unexpected global event such as a pandemic. In SE Asia and Australia and New Zealand, 22% claimed to have had a full BCP in place, demonstrating significant preparedness for responding to major events, including pandemics. This ranked the highest among all regions.

    The results point to the need for businesses to not only dramatically widen the scope of BCP, but also to rely on more data tools to discover the hidden relationships between data sets, identify more vulnerabilities and consider ways to generate a risk score on a more formal and regular basis.
  • Face-to-face collaboration has since been shifted to a once-in-a-generation technology shift towards being conducted through video conferencing. Video conferencing and cloud-based contact center solutions are some of the most transformative technologies to the enterprise. Video is the new voice in collaboration. Some 98% of respondents believed there will be ‘an increased reliance on video conferencing to replace face-to-face meetings post-COVID-19 recovery’. Dustin Kehoe, Services Director, GlobalData, shared: “It was interesting to see the overwhelmingly positive response for video conferencing. While the technology has always been available, we are seeing a generational shift in perception from pre- and post- COVID-19 eras.”
  • Heightened corporate awareness that networks underpin technology to support the distributed and nomadic workforce, and are therefore crucial to ensuring a great user experience. Networks will play a more important role in connecting remote and mobile workers. According to the survey results, eight out of 10 businesses in the survey had a percentage of employees who ‘cannot work due to ICT challenges.’
  • Organizations are reviewing their approach to customer engagement. Nearly half of respondents were adopting a cloud-first contact center strategy for improving end-to-end capabilities for speed and agility when serving customers. The sentiment was the strongest in North Asia at 57%, followed by SEA and ANZ at 52%.

    One of the top information and communications technology (ICT) priorities gleaned from the study was ‘supporting the remote-workforce’. The sentiment was especially strong from European and SEA and ANZ respondents. Post-COVID-19, networks will need to be software-defined, cloud-ready, more automated and flexible.

Outlook for SE Asia and ANZ

The top business priorities for SE Asia and ANZ respondents—Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand—are improving ICT and security resilience for business continuity purposes (77%).

The countries are investing in Unified Communications and Collaboration tools, including video conferencing for remote-working, accelerating cloud adoption, and looking at role-based ICT solutions that incorporate strong automation and digital tooling. Some 84% of leaders saw this as a high priority compared to a global average of 74%.

Commented Marjet Andriesse, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Telstra: “While the businesses in the SE  Asian and Australia and New Zealand region had better preparation for major events including pandemics (22%) compared to other regions, they still see the challenges of COVID-19 as a major catalyst for a significant pivot in their overall IT strategy. This pandemic has shown us how businesses need adaptive technologies and secure collaborative tools to ensure connectivity among people, especially in the face of difficult business conditions and market volatility.”