More than one in three executives in both the US and China see COVID-19’s impact as impetus to digitally transform their business, according to a newly released report by software provider Wind River.

COVID-19 is influencing which technologies will receive increased attention, with enterprises desiring transformation to the extent that they are placing over 50% extra focus on investment in areas such as 5G, containers, and cloud-native technologies, the report stated. Meanwhile, 75% of C-suite, IoT, and DevOps leaders are modifying corporate strategies due to COVID-19.

“Seismic events can disrupt our focus and thinking and force reassessment of drivers of future business success,” Wind River said in a statement. “The current COVID-19 pandemic is one of those major events producing a worldwide impact, especially given its reverberations on the two largest global economies, the US and China.”

SEE: Digital transformation: It’s time to invent the future we want (TechRepublic)

The report surveyed 400 senior-level technology executives from the US and China in mid-April at enterprises with revenue ranging from $100 million to $1 billion. The insights came from tech executives in major sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing/industrial.

With COVID-19–related challenges creating new pressures, enterprises are rapidly falling into the categories of simply surviving, pivoting to adapt to new realities, or doing nothing, Wind River said.

While the US and China are in different phases of the pandemic, in several aspects the responses from each country split in similar ways, Wind River said. For example, more than one in three executives (39% of US and 43% of Chinese leaders) are focusing on surviving this crisis, while 35% in the US and 33% in China are spurred to make a transformation due to COVID-19.

The enterprises with a desire to digitally transform are increasing spend in the following areas:
· 5G projects: 63% in China, 37% in the US
· Cloud-based application development: 62% in China, 35% in the US
· AI: 61% in China, 37% in U.S
· Container-based development: 56% in China, 38% in US
· IoT: 60% in China, 33% in US
· Applications at the edge: 57% in China, 25% in US

“China is 12 to 16 weeks ahead of the US in terms of the COVID-19 lifecycle, and from the data it appears the region is eager to press forward,” noted Kevin Dallas, president and CEO of Wind River. “The investment figures in China could be an indicator of how they believe the strategic focus is moving increasingly to a tech-led new world and/or a new set of norms for them that will require digital transformation.”

Dallas said this is mostly because China is exiting the first wave of COVID-19 with an understanding of what will need to be done differently to thrive with 5G, cloud and development, generally. He added that the Wind River survey did not ask about actual spends, just direction.

COVID-19 is “a shock accelerator for every organization globally, as we will see how much damage to normal practices will be experienced if we are not digitally centric across the enterprise,” the company said.

As enterprises have had to implement changes to their business processes due to the pandemic, 98% in China and 90% in the US note that their ability to meet customer demands has been impacted. Given recent needs, the interest in growing DevOps practices has risen across enterprises, with executives now placing more importance on DevOps (46% in US, 36% in China), according to the Wind River report.

Regardless of region, most enterprises realize that the road ahead will be tough. Half of enterprises in the US and 77% in China are seeing heavier workloads across their teams, according to the report. They also anticipate the need to implement major initiatives such as accelerating new business models (83% in US, 89% in China) and building in more agile development (82% in US, 86% in China).

To tackle these challenges, there is a clear recognition among leaders that they will require transformative focus and skills, Wind River said. To successfully lead a digital transformation, C-suite leaders, and executives in DevOps/DevSecOps and IoT anticipate increased importance in their roles (ranging from over 60% in the US to over 73% in China) as their businesses exit COVID-19.

As the world grapples with the disruption caused by COVID-19 and enterprises begin to understand major gaps and the resources required to deliver on customer needs, they must identify the right strategies and experts to help them accelerate a digital transformation and realize long-term success beyond the pandemic, Wind River said.

Companies that are transforming “will likely be in the best shape for the future,” said Dallas. “It will be extremely beneficial to use this time of disruption to build a competitive advantage.”