Leapfrogging ahead: An era of change is under way

July 01, 2021 1:15 AM

Pace of tech adoption is defining how companies will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic

Mahesh Zurale PortraitMahesh Zurale Portrait

By Mahesh Zurale

THE COVID-19 pandemic has brought about rapidly changing consumer needs and behaviour, which mean that companies in every sector have had to accelerate their tech-driven transformations.

While most firms invested in solutions that helped their workforce digitise operations, a small minority took it one step further. These firms realised that simply going digital was not a cure-all for their business. Our research identified these companies as ‘Masters of Change’ – those who prioritised a more aggressive and progressive technology strategy that not only endeavoured to fix the business, but also upended convention to create a new vision for the future.

Covid-19 brought the innovation gap into the spotlight
Our 2019 research on enterprise technology strategies and their impact on performance showed tech leaders – the top 10% of companies we surveyed – were growing revenues at 2x the speed of tech laggards – the bottom 25% of our sample. Curious about the effects of the pandemic on their technology strategies and performance, we conducted a second round of research in early 2021, surveying 4,300 executives around the world. This research found that tech leaders had moved further ahead of the pack and were now growing at 5x the rate of laggards. Leaders further distinguish themselves in another key dimension: Creating new value for all stakeholders. This value was delivered by upskilling employees, promoting their well-being, ensuring data sovereignty and privacy for customers, leveraging ecosystem partners, and designing human-centric technology.

Rise of the leapfroggers
Leapfrogger organisations quickly scaled their investments in key technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence. This helped them migrate their operations and workforce to virtual environments. For instance, financial service institutions focused on efforts to enhance mobile banking, enabling customers to carry out any transaction from their phones. Automotive companies began selling vehicles through online channels to avoid in-person contact.

Leapfroggers have essentially followed three practices to achieve success. By emulating these behaviours, other firms can take steps to bridge the innovation gap:

Replatform to the cloud to build systems strength. By doing so, leapfroggers remove redundant technologies and disconnected data across the IT stack while gaining computing power and flexibility. For instance, 81% of leapfroggers had adopted some form of cloud technology by 2017. That figure rose to 98% after the pandemic.

Reframe by adopting an innovation-led strategy. Leapfroggers have been able to shift their focus, change their mindset, and treat potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology. Scaling new innovations became the #1 priority for leapfroggers during the pandemic, and 89% of them believe in building partnerships across the ecosystem.

Reach for non-traditional, non-financial business goals that create value for multiple stakeholders. This includes scaling tech across the enterprise and investing in the workforce by upskilling employees and providing the right work environment.

Those firms that truly endeavour to become ‘Masters of Change’ must continue to embrace and accelerate their digital transformations if they want to strengthen their competitive advantage, supercharge future growth, and not just survive, but thrive.

The writer is senior managing director, Lead – Advanced Technology Centers in India, Accenture

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