Research from boxxe.com shows the pandemic has created a new era of technological advancement for UK businesses, with 4 out of 5 (82%) undertaking significant digital transformation in the last 12 months.
Whilst the restrictions around on-site working and customer interaction brought in during the pandemic have necessitated an acceleration in digital growth, the challenging conditions have also brought about a period of learning for businesses – over half (61%) of which have had to introduce completely new digital solutions or fast-track plans in reaction to the changing landscape.
Riding a wave of digital growth
Of the huge number of UK businesses implementing digital transformation projects, the majority are seeing successes. The Digital Transformation report commissioned by Censuswide on behalf of boxxe shows that almost two thirds (65%) consider the digital projects they have undertaken to have delivered the intended results.
Businesses that have undertaken significant digital transformation projects in the past year have reaped the rewards, with survey respondents listing improved security (36%) a boost to productivity (34%) better customer service and reduced costs (25%) as the biggest benefits for their organisations. Other benefits include better communication and collaboration between staff (24%), improved quality of work, agility, better visibility and reporting (20%).
Remote working has been a particularly high area for growth in most businesses and the research report shows it has been a good experience for many. Of those surveyed, nearly a third (29%) reported that communication and collaborative working between their staff has been positively affected and their teams have been communicating and collaborating better whilst working remotely.
Data security is another area that has seen an increase in attention from businesses, particularly as high-profile data leak cases have hit the headlines and companies are becoming more aware of the catastrophic repercussions a data security breach can cause.
The vast majority (83%) of the business decision-makers surveyed by boxxe agreed that their organization proactively detects and protects against attacks on IT infrastructure and a further 86% felt that their business followed industry standards and best practice for cyber security.
When questioned about data management, 78% of respondents felt their company had robust systems and processes in place for data management and over half (61%) said encryption to protect end points and data was in place within their business to guard against data theft.
A year of accelerated learning:
Whilst new digital solutions have been a blessing for many, the need to act extremely quickly has caused problems for some, with 35% of business decision-makers surveyed saying they had witnessed a digital project fail.
Reflecting on the reasons why projects had failed, 38% believed it was due to staff not being involved early enough, a third (33%) believed failure occurred because teams had tried to fit the business around a technology rather than the other way around and 31% of respondents felt the lack of clear vision and a plan was a key issue that led to projects failing. Other reasons attributed to project failures include not scoping and planning properly before starting (27%), the IT department not being aligned with other departments (25%) and a lack of clear roles and responsibilities for roll out (24%).
Indeed, staffing and budget planning have caused issues for many companies over the past 12 months, with research from boxxe showing that when undertaking digital transformation projects over half (53%) of UK companies neglected to staff them properly and, of those that did, 49% did not ring-fence additional time for staff to manage the activity, whilst more than a third (42%) attempted to deliver projects without any additional budget allocation.
The speedy adaption to remote working practices has also caused issues for many, with companies listing poor connectivity (57%), compromised security (52%) and limited access to networks, files and data (37%) as the biggest and most common problems they have wrestled with when enabling staff to work remotely.
Those working from home echoed the frustrations of employers, listing internet issues (37%) difficulty in communication (36%) and a reduced ability to keep on track of individual tasks – especially for complex problems and large teams (33%) as the biggest barriers to productivity and a happy working environment.
Joel Berwitz Chief Revenue Officer for boxxe said: “Businesses have been under increased pressure to create efficiencies and fast-track digital transformation projects and as a result we’re seeing more issues cropping up related to improper planning and resourcing. The effect on a business can be considerable when failures occur, with companies often having to spend large sums of money to make essential corrections at a later date”.
“This is where working with a third-party expert such as boxxe can be invaluable for companies that lack the expertise, time or resource to manage projects internally. As well as saving valuable internal resource, third party specialists can be helpful in sense-checking plans, filtering options, suggesting the most cost-effective options, securing deals you might not otherwise have access to and creating a roadmap for project success. In most cases, third-party support pays for itself in the long run”.
The digital evolution in 2021 and beyond
One of the fundamental lessons learned from the pandemic is that nothing is ever certain, and everything can change in a very short space of time. The ability to be agile and respond quickly to new situations is now more essential than ever for business survival and success, with digital transformation playing a key role in enabling that for companies, organizations and institutions across many different industries.
Indeed, the research from boxxe has shown that agility is a major consideration for companies when deciding what technologies to introduce, with half (50%) of respondents saying the most important factor for them when deciding on a digital solution will be the ease in which it can be changed or developed in order to adapt for a rapidly changing business.
Other areas of importance for business decision-makers when considering future technologies to introduce include their ability to give better visibility of performance and enable better decision making (48%), the speed in which they can be deployed and the ease in which they are accessible by other systems (47%), their ability to deliver quick results (38%) and a low cost of entry (31%).
Digging deeper into what businesses are looking to focus their efforts on over the next five years, the boxxe Digital Transformation Survey shows that more than three quarters (85%) of those who see a need for digital transformation now have a clear roadmap for achieving it.
The research showed that when considering the most important areas for digital transformation over the next five years, businesses are focusing on creating cost savings, driving efficiencies and increasing their awareness of their target consumers to deliver a better and more sophisticated customer service experience, with survey respondents listing systems to support a better use of data/analytics (60%) cloud infrastructure (50%), the internet of things (43%), artificial intelligence (41%) and virtual & augmented reality (20%) as the most important areas of digital transformation they will be looking to implement in their business over the next five years.
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