The combination of a remote workforce and on-demand consumption of goods and services forced organizations to adopt an infrastructure that supports the digital experience. Simply put, the urgency of such an unanticipated and unprecedented situation removed many obstacles that had previously stood in the way of digital transformation plans — but not without complications.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 65% of organizations said that they had aggressive growth plans. When the pandemic hit, progress toward those goals contracted, as workforce reductions, reduced operating capital and lower revenue impacted respondents’ companies. However, agile businesses quickly adopted operational efficiencies, embraced a more productive remote workforce and shifted their product offerings in favor of a contactless economy.
Even though the pandemic forced quick decision-making, most respondents planned to make these changes permanent and position their organizations well for future challenges. In fact, more than half of the respondents expected to return to growth by the 2021–2022 time frame. However, such rapid digital transformation has created IT security gaps due to a lack of understanding of the threat landscape and the perceived security that public cloud vendors provide.
In the mad dash to the cloud, organizations are losing control and visibility of cybersecurity.
How Do You Strategically Plan Your Way Out of a Pandemic?
As organizations ushered in the new decade, executives were optimistic about business prospects; automation promised to propel operational efficiencies, and C-level management continued to invest in digital transformation strategies.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the realities of the “new normal” took hold. Plans to transition business infrastructures to the cloud — initially slated for months or even years down the road — accelerated rapidly. Senior executives had to quickly meet the challenge of implementing strategies that didn’t just address immediate needs but also positioned their organizations well for the long term.
Indeed, the pandemic was the catalyst for the C-suite to take decisive action. Organizations swiftly migrated business-critical assets and applications to the cloud, and as a result, many now feel well-positioned to return to growth. However, this digital transformation journey is far from over. Instead, executives must now shift their focus to filling network security gaps overlooked in the initial rush to cloud migration.
Think Fast, Act With Purpose
Senior executives made quick decisions that will have long-term implications. Roughly 50% of the respondents noted that the changes made regarding headcount, processes/applications, real estate assets and budgets are permanent.
In their 2019 business plans, more than 65% of the survey respondents indicated that they planned for increased growth in 2019. Thirty-five percent of the respondents noted a positive impact on headcount. It’s possible that downsizing at some companies enabled them to fill strategic positions with qualified candidates who would not have been in the job market prior to the pandemic.
Focus on Efficiencies
C-suite executives quickly identified operational efficiencies to control costs and continue to support customers, suppliers and employees, including:
• Optimizing capex/opex
• Reducing the workforce
• Cutting back on real estate assets
• Shifting to a remote workforce
• Building robust digital infrastructures
• Transitioning IT infrastructure to the cloud
• Adopting artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation technologies to reduce manual processes/errors
• Deploying differentiated security solutions
More than half of all respondents anticipated increased growth in 2021–2022 based on changes that they are implementing now.