Telstra study: 93% of businesses have changed their IT priorities due to COVID-19

Telstra today published a new white paper identifying the technological challenges and the industry outlook post-COVID 19. The research, Business Continuity, Flexible Working and Adaptive Infrastructure: Five Actions for When the Economy Reopens Following COVID-19 gathered data from 120+ business leaders across Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States to provide insights on how to recalibrate their IT strategies. The research was conducted together with GlobalData to survey C-suites and IT decision-makers to understand organisations’ responses to the pandemic.

The key insights from the survey showed that the pandemic has:

  • Accelerated digital transformation and redefined its meaning from its pre-COVID-19 state
  • Revealed the non-existence of Business Continuity Plans (BCP) for global events such as pandemics
  • Created a once in a generation technology shift towards face-to-face collaboration that is conducted mainly through video conferencing
  • Shown that high capacity networks are crucial in underpinning technology to support the distributed and nomadic workforce

Businesses are recalibrating their digital transformation strategy. 93% of businesses state they have changed their IT priorities either incrementally, significantly, or dramatically. Businesses are updating their overall IT strategy, with the top priority for respondents across all regions being to set up policies for their remote workforce. This includes areas such as ensuring employees can connect securely and access their applications and data.

Nearly one in ten enterprises did not have a Business Continuity Plan pre-COVID-19. Of those organisations that did have a BCP in place almost a third (29%) did not have plans in place to respond to an unexpected global event such as a pandemic. In Europe, only 18.5% claimed to have a full BCP in place that demonstrated significant preparedness for responding to major events, including pandemics. In the United States this was even lower, with 14% whilst Southeast Asia (SEA) and Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) were most prepared with 22% claiming to be fully prepared.

The results point to the need for businesses to dramatically widen the scope of BCP, but also to rely on more data tools to discover the hidden relationships between data sets, identify more vulnerabilities and consider ways to generate a risk score on a more formal and regular basis.

Video conferencing and cloud-based contact centre solutions are some of the most transformative technologies to the enterprise. Video is the new voice in collaboration, 98% of respondents believe there will be ‘an increased reliance on video conferencing to replace face-to-face meetings post COVID-19 recovery.

Dustin Kehoe, Services Director from GlobalData shared, “It was interesting to see the overwhelmingly positive response for video conferencing. While the technology has always been available, we are seeing a generational shift in perception from pre and post COVID-19 eras.”

Organisations are reviewing their approach to customer engagement. Nearly half of respondents are now adopting a cloud-first contact centre strategy for improving end to end capabilities for speed and agility when serving customers. The sentiment is the strongest in North Asia at 57%, followed by SEA and ANZ at 52%.

Networks will play a more important role in connecting remote and mobile workers. According to the survey results, eight out of ten businesses in the survey have a percentage of employees who ‘cannot work due to ICT challenges.’

One of the top, immediate ICT priorities from the survey is supporting the remote workforce. The sentiment is especially strong from European and SEA and ANZ respondents. Post-COVID 19, networks will need to be software-defined, cloud-ready, more automated and flexible.

Outlook for the UK and Europe

Europe is the region with the greatest ICT spending increases as a result of COVID-19, with nearly 70% increasing their IT budgets as a result of the pandemic. The respondents, including UK, Germany and France, have an active digital transformation strategy in 100% of the cases.

While the European markets view employee health and safety as the most important business priority, a close second comes at enabling remote working for employees. Translating the business to top ICT priorities, business and IT leaders across Europe are introducing new initiatives or expanding existing online Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) tools for remote working, as well as rolling out standard ICT workspace solutions for the remote workers.

The findings have also shown that European respondents are leading the way in their preference to accelerate cloud adoption compared to other markets, and the need to re-consider their WAN strategy.

“While businesses in Europe trailed Asia in their preparedness for major events (only 18.5% had incorporated pandemics into the BCP), they still see the challenges of COVID-19 as a major catalyst for a significant pivot in their overall IT strategy, and as such are boosting ICT budgets to prepare for the long haul. Some 70% of European respondents are updating the BCP to reflect new realities posed by ‘current and future pandemics,’ putting in place the right policy frameworks for remote workers.

“This pandemic has shown us how businesses need adaptive technologies and secure collaborative tools to ensure connectivity among people, especially in the face of difficult business conditions and market volatility,” commented Matt Williams, Head of EMEA for Telstra.