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For many years paper—albeit, eliminating paper—was a top digital transformation priority. However, in the wake of the past year’s global COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises began to reallocate budget dollars and resources away from digitizing paper and toward communication and collaboration tools needed for employees working remotely. 

One year later, COVID-19 is still here, and it’s continuing to impact businesses’ digital transformation initiatives. TechRepublic Premium wanted to find out exactly how the pandemic has led businesses to modify or shift their digital transformation objectives. It polled 110 SMB decision-makers and compared the results to a similar survey conducted last year.

SEE: Research: Digital transformation initiatives focus on collaboration (TechRepublic Premium)

Last year, 60% of respondents said that COVID-19 forced them to alter their digital transformation plans. That number increased to 62% this year. 

Digital transformation priorities also changed year over year. In 2020, the majority of survey respondents (68%) focused on implementing remote digital tech that could facilitate collaboration, digital and online training (56%) and IT and business process automation (39%). 

In 2021, however, only 32% of respondents were prioritizing collaboration technology for remote workers. Further, focusing on digital and online training decreased to 26% and IT business process automation only ranked high for 23% of respondents. Social media initiatives topped digital transformation projects for 23% of respondents last year, but that number decreased to 8% this year.

By far, digital capabilities centered around collaboration tools brought the greatest benefit for 42% respondents in 2021. Cloud-based computing for systems such as HR, CRM, ERP and office systems benefited 17% of respondents, and 8% of respondents cited data analytics as the digital tech delivering the most benefit.

SEE: Research: Digital transformation initiatives focus on collaboration (TechRepublic Premium)

Not all digital technologies delivered a win. According to respondents, digital technologies such as social media (23%) and IoT devices (14%) failed to deliver. 

Overall, more than a quarter of  respondents had no complaints about their digital technologies.

Budgets continue to reflect the need for increased digitalization projects. Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents reported they will spend more on digital transformation in 2022 than they did in 2021, and 31% said that the level of digital spending would remain the same as in 2021. Only 7% said they will spend less than in 2021.

This infographic contains more details from the research. For all the findings, download the full report Research: Digital transformation initiatives focus on collaboration (available free to TechRepublic Premium subscribers).