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How the Pandemic Shaped Tech Across Industries: And Where We’re Headed Now

Tech leaders reconsider technology initiatives to best support employees and customers.

Man wearing head phones takes a meeting via his laptop

Rainy season is not the time to fix a leaky roof. Unfortunately, we aren’t always aware the roof needs to be fixed until we see the water dripping on the floor.

COVID brought out all the “little leaks” for companies worldwide. Digital cracks in onboarding, collaboration, and other work-from-home necessities quickly grew into bigger chasms. We partnered with Pulse Q&A research firm to understand how global leaders addressed these digital gaps and other challenges brought on by the pandemic. Here’s a look at what they found.

Improving your company’s technology can improve employee and customer experience both now and post-pandemic

Once the pandemic began, almost three-quarters of tech leaders surveyed began to shift their digital transformation priorities. If they previously planned for innovation, they put those efforts aside and instead focused on better supporting their people: employees and customers.

CIOs faced an incredible challenge when the remote workforce increased by almost 10x in a matter of months

Emphasis on digital remote work more than doubled, and security efforts saw a 16% increase. These investments protected workers and customers alike — employees could do their jobs from home and give customers the same peace-of-mind and confidence they had as before.

Prior to the pandemic, only about 6% of the workforce worked remotely. CIOs faced an incredible challenge when the remote workforce increased by almost 10x in a matter of months. Where before CIOs were experts at streamlining old business practices, they had to pivot toward stabilizing people’s needs.

Tech leaders can enable remote work in multiple ways

In order to best serve employees and customers, tech leaders needed processes in place that would help enable people to seek solutions on their own. IT departments couldn’t be everywhere at once, so they often provided self-service portals for “anything which required human contact or intervention,” mentioned one CIO in the education sector’s blind study.

Industries like education, finance, and healthcare saw the biggest advancements in digital transformation as millions of people sought safer ways to interact virtually. Homeschooling, loans, and other pandemic-related needs spiked. Even the construction industry saw a 100% shift in executives’ digital priorities to keep pace with ever-changing public requirements.

Remote work still took time

Despite a focus on enabling remote work, over half of tech leaders were not prepared for a massive shift to working from home. As many as 87% of these executives believe it may be impossible to transition fully to remote work.

Of the companies that made the shift, enterprises lagged anywhere from a week to months down the road when it came to setting up a new digital space.

Digital transformation is allowing us to put the tools in place to be more reactive to customer needs.

Challenges included differing priorities, minimal budget, and shrinking team sizes. Sometimes the lack of appetite from leadership halted digital transformation initiatives. Regardless of reason, only 13% of companies ramped up to full remote work midway through 2020.

For the companies that did put the focus on tech, they saw tremendous gains in the remote-work era. One IT director said, “… our internal digital transformation is allowing us to put the tools in place to be more reactive to customer needs. Collaboration, file sharing, [and] coediting tools are benefiting internal and external parties at the same time.” Another IT manager saw the human advantage to increased tech: “We’re more relaxed now. Scripts are out the window, and we’re focusing on keeping points of communication [open] instead.”

The rapid changes taking place this year continue to inspire organizations to prioritize seamless, engaging digital experiences. And as IT teams look to do more with less, it becomes clear across industries that investing in the right technology is the sustainable path forward.

Learn how you can drive successful digital transformation at your organization with the Salesforce Platform.

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