Companies that amplified their technology investments globally during the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly extended their growth advantage over competitors, according to new research from Accenture entitled Make the Leap, Take the Lead.
Leaders – representing the top 10% of companies surveyed – were defined by Accenture as those that showed their strength in adopting new technologies across their organisation thereby creating a large and growing innovation achievement gap between themselves and others.
Laggards on the other hand, who represented the bottom 25%, were defined as companies who have invested in newer technologies for the first time over the past year, just to keep their companies operational.
Accenture’s study, based on a global survey of 4,300 global executives across 25 countries and across 20 industries, which includes 1,150 APAC executives and 200 Southeast Asian executives, is described as revealing the indispensability of technology during one of the most disruptive times in history.
The most successful tech adopters: Leapfroggers
A new category, which Accenture terms as Leapfroggers, represent 18% of global respondents.
Leapfroggers excel at shifting their mindset and viewing potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology. They have a high ‘Flip Size’, which means they are actively shifting their IT budget from operations-related activity to innovation-related activity (from 70% to 30%)—speeding up software development cycles, changing business processes and building new capabilities.
Accenture associates Leapfroggers with global companies such as Carrefour, Santander, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.
Leapfroggers set themselves apart through three strategic steps:
- Replatform, prioritising cloud and moving the majority of workloads to cloud to build Systems Strength, reduce redundant technologies and disconnected data across the IT stack while gaining computing power and flexibility. 80% of Leapfroggers had adopted some form of cloud technology by 2017, but that figure rose to 98% by 2020.
- Reframe, choosing to adopt an innovation-led technology strategy, shifting their focus, changing their mindsets, and treating potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology. APAC companies, on average, reported higher levels of technology adoption during COVID-19 as compared to other regions with 59% of APAC companies adopting IT processes during the start of the pandemic, as compared to 54% of global companies.
- Reach, expanding access to technology across internal business functions and embracing a broader value agenda by addressing personalised employee upskilling, well-being, and mental health. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Leaders prioritise employee happiness by providing digital-based flexible work arrangements, compared to just 43% of Laggards.
The APAC data released found that technology adoption in APAC has increased to 90% (89% in South East Asia) in 2021, from 80% (85% in South East Asia) just two years ago in 2019.
Ryoji Sekido, Senior MD, Technology & Cloud First Lead for Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East at Accenture, said “This report showcases how investing and doubling down on technology investments and processes has enabled leaders to experience economic and business growth despite the challenges faced from the onset of COVID-19.
“It has highlighted the opportunities in play when companies move from operational-related activities to innovation-based activities like software development, and building new processes in ensuring successful scaling across the enterprise.”