A retrospective review of how businesses in Asia survived with digital transformation initiatives shows some insights into the three R’s … 

In a global report consisting of surveys of 4,300 global executives across 25 countries and 20 industries (including 1,150 executives in the Asia Pacific region [APAC]) and 200 South-east Asian executives, firms that led in technology adoption during the pandemic had significantly extended their growth advantage over competitors that were digital laggards.

Combining interviews, case study research and economic modelling with the survey, Accenture, which conducted one-month project (Dec 2020 to Jan 2021) among firms ranging in value from US$500m to over US$25Bn, asserts that digital ‘leaders’ in the survey were growing revenue at five times the rate of ‘laggards’.

Leaders, which represented the top 10% of companies in the survey population, were defined as those that showed their strength in adopting new technologies across their organization, while Laggards represented the bottom 25%, defined as companies that had invested in newer technologies for the first time over the past year, just to keep their companies operational.

Summary of APAC findings

The data for the APAC shows the following:

  • Overall, technology adoption had increased to 90% (89% in South-east Asia) in 2021 vs 80% (85% in South-east Asia) vs 2019.
  • Leaders had doubled down on their technology investments and scaled innovation across their organization.
  • 72% of leaders in APAC (51% in South-east Asia) had invested in IOT, and 74% (46% in South-east Asia) in cloud security.
  • 18% of the entire global sample population were ‘Leapfroggers’ that were breaking previous performance barriers to catch up with Leaders and outpace peers. They excelled at shifting their mindset and viewing potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology.
  • 67% of Leapfroggers sought to aggressively increase revenue from non-core business lines. They were actively shifting their IT budget from operations-related activity to innovation-related activity (from 70% to 30%)—speeding up software development cycles, changing business processes and building new capabilities.

Leapfroggers set themselves apart through three strategic steps:

  1. Replatform: prioritizing the moving of a majority of workloads to the Cloud to build systems strength, reduce redundant technologies and disconnected data across the IT stack while gaining computing power and flexibility. By 2017, 80% of Leapfroggers had adopted some form of cloud technology, and this figure had risen to 98% by 2020.
  2. Reframe: choosing to adopt an innovation-led technology strategy, shifting their focus, changing their mindsets, and treating potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology. APAC companies, on average, reported higher levels of technology adoption during the pandemic last year, as compared to other regions with 59% of companies in APAC adopting IT processes during the start of the pandemic, as compared to 54% of global companies.
  3. Reach: expanding access to technology across internal business functions and embracing a broader value agenda by addressing personalized employee upskilling, well-being, and mental health. Some 65% of Leaders prioritized employee happiness by providing digital-based flexible work arrangements, compared to just 43% of Laggards.

According to the firm’s Senior MD, Technology & Cloud First Lead (APAC, Africa and Middle East), Ryoji Sekido: “This report showcases how investing and doubling down on technology investments and processes has enabled leaders to experience economic and business growth despite the challenges faced from the onset of the pandemic. It has highlighted the opportunities in play when companies move from operational-related activities to innovation-based activities like software development, and building new processes in ensuring successful scaling across the enterprise.”