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Pandemic helps accelerate digital transformation for many traditional companies

AI
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Peshkova)

The Covid-19 pandemic will have a profound impact on traditional, non-digital businesses that are not currently pursuing digital transformation in an aggressive fashion, according to a new report from Cognizant and Oxford Economics

The report states that 46 percent of businesses worldwide expect less social interaction with customers. Further, more than a third (37 percent) said they now understand the importance of digital channels for customer interaction.

The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to change virtually all aspects of business operations, from the way workers interact with one another, to how products and services are built and advertised, to how businesses communicate with their clients.

With this is mind, many respondents cited innovation skills as most important for success in today’s climate, seeing them as more important than decision-making and leadership skills.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also changed perspectives on robots, AI and automation. Business leaders are not as worried about machines taking over their jobs as they used to be and some even believe digital technologies will protect them from being replaced by AI.

At the same time, the belief in the power of digital technology as means of efficiency improvement is somewhat dwindling (from 87 percent in 2016 down to 46 percent today).

“Over the course of this year, we have seen how Covid-19 has exposed the pre-existing condition of many organizations around the world: They were pre-digital enterprises, unfit for purpose in the modern world, holding on by their fingertips by custom and inertia,” said Euan Davis, Associate Vice President, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, EMEA.

“As 2021 begins, and enterprises around the world attempt to chart a course for the post-pandemic era, one thing is certain: Digital competency is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather, an absolute necessity. Businesses need to be confident in their ability to integrate machines into existing business processes, but also forge lasting partnerships between humans and machines. Technology will undoubtedly play a massive role in every organization’s future success, and flexible, data-intensive, and digitally oriented ways of working will be indispensable for weathering what is expected to be a global recession.”