2021 IDG Digital Business Research reveals the status of digital-first strategies & how the pandemic has shifted objectives
Boston, Mass. – August 12, 2021 – IDG Communications, Inc. – the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company – releases its third annual Digital Business research, which was conducted to gain a better understanding of where organizations are in adopting a digital-first approach. This year’s results found that 61% of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) agree that the global pandemic forced their organization to begin/implement a digital-first strategy, and 42% found themselves in catch-up mode, trying their hand at a digital-first strategy to stay at pace with their competitors. Similar to past results, 91% of organizations have adopted or plan to adopt a digital-first strategy, however a greater percentage are already in the adoption stages (52%) compared to 48% in 2019. To support these digital-first plans, technology buyers anticipate investing more dollar in artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML).
Pandemic’s Impact on the Digital Business Landscape
Changes accelerated by the pandemic, such as the shift to remote work and new forms of online customer interactions, forced organizations to evolve and adapt, especially by using new technologies. Two-thirds of respondents to the 2021 Digital Business study shared that their IT organization has shifted to a remote-first mindset when making technology purchases, and more than half (54%) said that the amount of time it takes their organization to implement new technologies has decreased over the past 12 months, likely attributed to the sudden necessity of specific tools and solutions.
While the percentage of companies adopting a digital-first strategy mirrors the landscape of 2019, the definition of digital business has shifted to focus more on employees, customers, and data, most likely in response to priorities dictated by the global pandemic. When asked what digital business means to their organization, the top responses were:
- Enable worker productivity (mobile apps, data access, AI-assisted automation) (49% and was the number two meaning in 2019)
- Increase the understanding of customer needs through data collection and analysis (43% and number four in 2019)
- Better manage business performance through data availability and visibility (42% and number three in 2019)
Aligned with the focus on worker productivity, the ability to improve employee productivity/ performance is the top objective of a digital business strategy this year compared to being the eighth objective in 2019. When asked how their digital business objectives changed in importance due to the global pandemic, 58% of ITDMs said that the focus on business agility/resiliency and security increased in importance.
“The global pandemic redefined and accelerated many things over the past 18 months, and the approach to digital business is no different,” says Sue Yanovitch, VP of Marketing, IDG Communications, Inc. “As businesses shifted to remote work and new forms of customer engagement, technology leaders were forced to identify and implement new solutions. We anticipate these investments will continue as organizations evolve and plan for the future of work.”
Investments Supporting Digital-First Strategies
Organizations are making strides to successfully become a digital business. Looking at which stages have already been completed, data security/protection strategy (25%), technology needs assessment (24%), and IT skills assessment (23%) top the list. When it comes to areas that are still in progress, we can expect ITDMs to continue to work on a data management strategy (50%), data security/protection strategy (47%), and change management (44%). Respondents also need assistance developing a business case/roadmap for their overall digital strategy – 41% list this as the most crucial step for digital business success, however only 20% have completed this step, 42% are in progress, and 27% are still planning.
To support these strategies and advance on their digital business journey, organizations will invest an average of $16.5 million on digital initiatives over the next 12 months. The technologies being actively researched to better understand how they fit into tech leaders’ plans are artificial intelligence (AL)/machine learning (ML) (33%), 5G (27%), Bots (26%), and augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR). However, these high percentages do not always translate into investment levels. AI/ML does lead the way with 38% saying that they anticipate investing more dollars towards those tools and solutions over the next 12 months to become a digital business, followed by data/analytics (34%), public cloud (32%), multi-cloud (30%), and private cloud (30%).
To learn more about this study, download the full executive summary, or request a research briefing. To learn more about how IDG engages with tech decision-makers researching and investing in digital initiatives, contact us.
About the 2021 IDG Digital Business Research
IDG’s 2021 Digital Business Research was conducted among the audiences of five IDG brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World) representing IT and security decision-makers within organizations that have plans to adopt/or already launched a “digital-first” approach. The survey was fielded online with the objective to gain a better understanding of where organizations are in their digital-first approach. Results in this release are based on 607 global respondents across multiple industries.
About IDG Communications, Inc.
IDG Communications’ vision is to make the world a better place by enabling the right use of technology, because we believe that the right use of technology can be a powerful force for good. IDG is a trusted and dependable editorial voice, creating quality content to generate knowledge, engagement and deep relationships with our community of the most influential technology and security decision-makers. Our premium media brands including CIO®, Computerworld®, CSO®, InfoWorld®, Macworld®, Network World®, PCWorld® and Tech Hive® engage a quality audience with essential guidance on the evolving technology landscape.
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Marketing and Research Manager
IDG Communications, Inc.