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Months into the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 continues to take its toll on communities and economies around the globe. Organizations have adopted various operational strategies and policies to mitigate the spread of the virus and enhance public safety. Companies have transitioned from the standard office to the virtual workplace; tapping the latest emerging technologies to streamline workflows and enhance cost-effectiveness in the interim. A new KPMG and HFS Research study details executive sentiment regarding investment in various emerging technologies in the months ahead.

“This crisis isn’t affecting all industries equally, but for many of the industries facing crisis, managing the transition to a digital business model is imperative. However, doing so is made more complicated in a time where investments are critical, but cash must be preserved,” said Cliff Justice, global lead for intelligent automation and U.S. lead for digital capabilities, KPMG in a press release.

Key findings: Emerging technology investments

The study titled “Enterprise Reboot” includes insights from 900 technology executives surveyed between March and June of 2020. More than half (57%) of respondents said that the coronavirus pandemic had “significantly changed their organization’s strategic priorities. The immediate focus is now on survival,” per the report. Some technologies have become essential to day-to-day operations as teams continue to work remotely. For example, 56% of respondents said cloud migration is now an “absolute necessity” as a result of the pandemic.

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Overall, nearly six in 10 respondents believed that the coronavirus pandemic “has created an impetus to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.” However, approximately 40% of executives were planning to stop investing in emerging technologies entirely due to the pandemic. There are several emerging technologies expected to see increased investment in the next 12 months, based on respondent data.

Nearly half (44%) of those surveyed expect to increase 5G spending in the next year. Nearly one-quarter (26%) expected 5G spending to decrease during that time frame. Additionally, 43% of executives expected process automation to increase within the next year, whereas one-quarter of respondents expected decreases in these areas. Respondents felt that artificial intelligence, one of the hallmarks of digital transformation, will continue to see increased investment of the next 12 months, with 39% of executives expecting increased investment and 31% foreseeing decreased spending.

Overall, executives expected increased investment in hybrid cloud, multicloud, blockchain, and edge computing in the months ahead. Conversely, the investment scales tilt when it comes to smart analytics investment, with 35% expected decreased spending, compared to 32% anticipating increased investment. While the executives expect increased investment in various digital transformation technologies, a mere 13% anticipated these investments to “significantly increase” during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Emerging technologies and new ways of working can play a significant role in the transformation to a more digital economy,” Justice said. “These technologies are helping companies maintain customer and stakeholder trust, keep remote workforces connected, ensure their business is resilient and prepared for disruptions, and build a strong foundation for future product and service innovation.”