This time last year, no one would have anticipated the rapid and sudden spread of a global pandemic, which has caught leaders and markets completely unawares. Now we are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and instability, where it is hard to predict the extent of the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak around the world.
Events have put a spotlight on business preparedness, and we at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have always worked in partnership with our customers to futureproof their operations and inspire innovation. We wanted to assess more widely the effect of the crisis on organisations across the globe. So we interviewed almost 300 executives about their own experiences and how digitally ready they were to meet a fast-changing working environment.
The COVID-19 Business Impact Survey revealed that most organisations were caught off guard and ill-prepared to adapt their operational model to continue serving their customers. Only a quarter of respondents were able to deliver end-to-end digital customer experience while just 23% had highly automated core business processes.
This was in large part due to the divide between companies that had already invested in essential digital capabilities versus those who had yet to adopt these. We have categorised these as ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’ respectively. A third (36%) of leaders advised that their revenue either remained constant or increased, while just 27% of followers could make the same claim.
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In even more stark contrast, over three-quarters (74%) of leaders whose businesses had experienced a fall in revenue were confident they would bounce back in two years, compared to just 54% of Followers. Clearly now is the time to invest in digital technology to evolve in a precarious commercial landscape and safeguard the future of their business. Despite inevitable cash concerns, 66% of executives said they had maintained their digital transformation budgets, while a further 25% had increased them.
As a leading global technology firm, TCS was ready to adapt in the face of international lockdown restrictions. We swiftly put in place a ground-breaking operational model called Secure Borderless Workspaces™ (SBWS™), enabling us to transition more than 95% of our worldwide workforce from the office to remote working in just a matter of days, and at an even faster rate in the UK. We were able to do the same for many of our UK customers — including Halfords, M&S and Morrisons to name but a few — to ensure a fast and seamless shift to a new way of working.
Our survey findings show that while transitioning to a virtual workspace need not be problematic, keeping remote workers agile, safe and motivated is still a challenge. Nonetheless remote working is here to stay. Currently an average of 64% of a company’s workforce are working remotely and it is predicted that by 2025, four in ten employees will still work from home. However, for our own business, we have a new 25 by 25 model in place. By 2025, just 25% of the TCS workforce will work out of our facilities at any time. This new model will also improve efficiency by 25%. We believe that even when the pandemic is behind us, businesses can continue to be productive and engaged without being in the office.
It is unsurprising that many leaders were unprepared to tackle such a monumental crisis. However, while this historic event has presented the business world with a myriad of challenges, we are confident there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it will be the more tech forward companies who embrace digital transformation that will be sure to grow and take advantage of new and exciting opportunities during these tough times and beyond.