Image: IDG

Some 76% of enterprises were already steadily advancing toward their digital transformation goals before the pandemic by migrating their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, a new study finds. However, the majority opted to wait to adopt new technologies until they were more widely proven, according to the recent study of nearly 150 CIOs and CTOs by SAP and IDG.

Some 74% of respondents invested in new digital services and platforms while 61% embraced co-location services, the study found. Small organizations were far more likely to migrate to a co-location provider, by a ratio of 73% to 42%, according to the study.

SEE: 72% of data and analytics executives lead or are heavily involved in digital transformation initiatives (TechRepublic)

In terms of how they dealt with talent needs, half of the study respondents outsourced skills and capabilities to managed service providers, while 47% hired additional full-time, temporary or consulting IT resources.

Over the past year, inflexible infrastructure and lack of proper IT capabilities forced companies to adapt quickly, by blending strategic technology upgrades with short-term, off-the-shelf fixes. However, many of these fixes were not permanent solutions for respondents, who said they will be evaluated and replaced when the time is right, according to the study.

The biggest areas of tech investment were in data analytics and customer experience offerings. Many respondents also invested in customer experience technology, multicloud, SaaS migrations and business process management/workflow automation. Of these, customer experience technology and data analytics were the most impactful for large enterprises, according to the study.

Smaller organizations, defined by the study as having fewer than 5,000 employees, are far more likely to invest in SaaS migrations, business process management/workflow automation, employee experience technologies and infrastructure consolidation/virtualization, according to the study.

One interesting finding was that investments in these technologies were typically not impacted by COVID-19 either positively or negatively, indicating that they are likely embedded in the digital roadmap, the study said. Most organizations believe they adapted well to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Barriers to responding more quickly

Among the challenges the study revealed were that 58% of respondent companies struggled to garner sufficient IT resources to scale their work-from-home operations, 54% battled inflexible technology infrastructure and 46% cited the capabilities of their IT service partners.

Other barriers cited included lack of project management/implementation ability, lack of innovation/adaptability and capabilities of internal IT teams.

Smaller organizations struggled with a lack of existing partners in areas that could help, lack of available funding and lack of executive support, the study said.

Security remains top of mind, and the rise of the WFH workforce highlighted the importance of digital security, which increased more than any other business objective, the study said. However, profitability and efficiency were also cited as much more important objectives.

Find a digital service partner

The study found that a digital service partner can help organizations with most of these barriers, particularly in adding IT capabilities, making IT infrastructure more flexible and project and implementation management.

Other hurdles they can help overcome are lack of existing partners in areas that could help, lack of project management/implementation ability, lack of available funding and lack of executive support.

When asked what ways a services partners will help accelerate their digital transformation, respondents commented:

  • “Assemble a dream team to accelerate the digital transformation,”

  • “I hope they provide more technical support, implement new technologies and developments,”

  • “…providing all necessary software and hardware capabilities to achieve our goal,” and

  • “they will help us complete this much faster since they have a lot of experts on staff at this time.”

Another key finding was that “most enterprises look like they will take their foot off the digital transformation accelerator post-COVID-19, perhaps to take stock of the changes and realign their IT strategy,” the study said. However, IT investments will still increase for most enterprises, the study said.

Specific areas cited include automation and AI in 2021, greater alignment between business priorities and IT investment and cloud.