The second wave of digital transformation after lockdown

The reimagining of business in the digital age to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements has been happening at varying speed for decades. The coronavirus pandemic is impacting digital transformation in a range of ways.

Just three weeks into lockdown an ongoing study by Sapio Research found that 17 percent of business expected the speeding up of digital transformation to last beyond the pandemic. Now, as we adjust to the latest phase of the UK lockdown, the number of business reporting that faster implementation of new IT programs will continue into the future has risen significantly.

After 7 weeks of lockdown, 22 percent of UK businesses reported digital transformation measures.  The NHS, famously slow to innovate adopted telehealth measures extremely quickly in response to the changing environment. The broadcast function that allows hospitals to broadcast messages in large volumes developed by the automated appointment booking system DrDoctor reached 150,000 patients just three days after its launch last month.

Service and production led industries were initially the most agile, 23 percent reporting the increased momentum of digital transformation. However, just two weeks later the digital and finance sectors have grabbed the bull by the horns, 31 percent now expecting faster digital transformation beyond COVID-19, compared to only 15 percent of them previously.  Food and drink continue to remain slow to adapt (10 percent wave 1, 12 percent wave 2).


Key work

Businesses that have a proportion of key workers in their staff, although not those wholly staffed by key workers, are also more likely report the continuation of faster implementation of digital solutions (27 percent vs 20 percent of those wholly staffed by keyworkers).

It is the ‘high touch’ economy of businesses that are either dependent on physical travel, or which provide business services or products that are able to be postponed (such as taking a holiday) that are mostly likely to be seeing digital transformation speed up and don’t expect it to fall back to a slower pace once we are ‘out the other side’ (30 percent and 29 percent respectively).

The largest of enterprises are also more likely to be witnessing the impetus of the situation (30 percent for 1000 to 4,9099 employees and 32 percent for 5,000+), compared to 18 percent of those with up to 25 employees.

“The importance of context in decision making is key, it’s amazing what we can do when we have to.  However, few people could have foreseen the magnitude of the sudden changes we’re currently working through. Now of all times its vital that we listen, ask opinions and monitor signals, so we keep one step ahead adapting and evolving to behaviours and needs in an empathetic manner.” – Jane Hales, Managing Partner, Sapio Research

A full set of findings can be found here. Further waves of the Covid-19 UK Business Barometer Survey will be conducted and released on an ongoing basis.