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For a majority of U.S. CEOs, the pandemic has meant an acceleration in digital transformation by months or even years. “The move to digitization has accelerated, and the benefits will be permanent,” says KPMG’s Carande. “There is no going back.”.

Impact Of The Pandemic On Digital Transformation

Across the following areas of enterprise digital transformation, please say what impact the pandemic has had on progress.

While better serving customers has been a top driver of digital transformation in the past, it often meant that companies had to be careful about how quickly they introduced new technology solutions and how advanced these solutions were. A significant fear is that not all customers would be able to adapt or be ready for change. At the beginning of the year, 67% of U.S. CEOs expressed concerns about migrating all of their business to the cloud. The pandemic, by forcing everybody to embrace digital technologies, has largely erased previous hesitation.

At Thomson Reuters Corp., digital transformation was already central to its growth strategy and operating model. But, as President and CEO Steve Hasker explains, shifts in customer attitudes and behaviors have accelerated its digital business model strategy. “With our customers, we’ve seen a major change in the acceptance of cloud-based, real-time, digitally delivered business information services,” he says. “Any resistance in our clients’ mindsets to moving to the cloud or the next generation of digital solutions has largely, if not entirely, evaporated. I think we’ve seen three to four years of progress in just three to four months, in terms of acceptance of what the new world needs to look like.”

Jim Fish, President and CEO of Waste Management Inc. (WM), believes that accelerating efforts to transform the customer experience has been the biggest opportunity to emerge from the pandemic. “During the pandemic, it has become abundantly clear to us that our customer service digitalization (CSD) investment is unquestionably the right approach,” says Fish. “Responding to our customers’ needs, CSD packages Waste Management’s technology and innovation while combining it with our data and analytics capabilities to seamlessly connect all the WM functions required to service our customers and differentiate the company.”

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) develops solutions that integrate hardware, software, data computing and artificial intelligence between the physical and digital worlds. “As the pace of innovation and degree of product development complexity increases for our customers, we need methods to bring our products to market that tame the inherent complexities,” says Vincent Roche, ADI’s President and CEO.

“We are continuing to invest in software tools to help both our customers and our workforce,” Roche continues. “For customers, we are focused on creating an end-to-end digital customer experience where they can research, prototype and then deploy our products in an easier, faster and more efficient way. Internally, we are investing in centralized hardware and software platforms that enable us to balance the needs for innovation and execution.”

For many companies, the accelerated demand for digital technology solutions has been a boon to their business, albeit under difficult circumstances. Companies have had to move more quickly than expected without all the necessary capital and human resources in place. The biggest group of CEOs (31%) found that the top challenge to accelerating digital transformation was difficulty making quick technology-related decisions.

Top Challenges To Digital Acceleration

“These are large, expensive decisions that without the right information and the right experience in place can take your breath away,” says Carande.

Other challenges include the lack of technology skills and capabilities, which demonstrate a great need to provide people with the right training to help with the transformation agenda.

Carande stresses the importance of understanding the end goal of a digital transformation, ensuring change management and having a disciplined project management approach. He also points to the need for creating a connected ecosystem of front-end and back-office technologies, a historic challenge for many organizations.

“You need to make sure you have everyone on the same page as you’re beginning to transform; you can’t do it from the center,” he says. “While the current digital transformations are moving much faster, they still need to be designed and implemented in a comprehensive and connected way.”

Steve Hasker, President & CEO, Thomson Reuters Corp.

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