Planning for continuity is key to business bounce back

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Ryoji Sekido, Senior Managing Director, Accenture Technology Lead for Japan, China, Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East and Executive Vice President, Accenture Japan Ltd, talks to Enterprise IT News about insights gathered from Accenture’s Make the Leap report.

EITN: How were leapfroggers able to scale so quickly during the pandemic?  Was there a specific mindset they already had before the pandemic that made it easier?

Ryoji: One of the main reasons Leapfroggers could scale so quickly during the pandemic was because they were bold and shifted their mindsets to view potential downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology. This adoption of advanced and emerging technologies, together with the organisational change needed to take advantage of these tech investments enabled Leapfroggers to break previous performance barriers and outpace their peers. 

An agile and collaborative organisational culture makes it easier for such businesses to shift their mindsets and innovate with new technology, but that is not to say that other companies and their leaders can’t do the same. Business leaders should start relooking at their current business strategies and identify opportunities to utilise emerging technologies within their existing operations to better scale their enterprises.

EITN: Can you share the role BCP strategies played in determining whether a company lagged or leapfrogged when the pandemic hit?

Ryoji: The pandemic presented a serious threat to businesses worldwide, putting business continuity and recovery plans to the test through rapidly evolving challenges. A good business continuity plan was essential to help businesses in managing the disruptions brought about by the pandemic. One of the key areas of focus in Accenture’s business resilience programme is ensuring not only business continuity but also technology continuity. This means that businesses must develop processes and plans to support business operations and focus on developing their technological capabilities for greater efficiency and effectiveness. 

EITN: What has been some of the differences in technology adoption and usage among businesses in the region since the onset of COVID-19?

Ryoji: Since COVID-19, the rate of technology adoption in APAC has increased. For example, in 2019, 80% of APAC businesses adopted technology across their organisational processes. Fast forward two years later in 2021, with COVID-19 helping to compress transformation, this number rose to 90%, signalling an acceleration of tech adoption within the region. Within Southeast Asia specifically, we are also seeing a pick-up in tech adoption among businesses, from 85% in 2019, to 89% in 2021. Similarly, as the pandemic intensified, companies in the region have doubled down on their tech investments, learning to scale their innovation across their organisation to drive business growth. For example, 72% of Leaders in APAC (51% in South East Asia) have invested in Internet of Things (IoT), and 74% (46% in South East Asia) in cloud security. 

This shows that despite the challenging business environment, businesses in APAC recognise the indispensability of technology in overcoming disruption. They are learning to explore new avenues of investment and learning how best to create value from them. 

EITN: How can companies use these insights to prepare for the road to recovery despite multiple disruptions?

Ryoji: This report showcases how investing and doubling down on technology investments and processes has enabled leaders and leapfroggers to experience economic and business growth despite the challenges faced from COVID-19. Businesses can take three key strategic steps to prepare for the road to recovery: the 3 Rs, replatform, reframe, and reach.

First, businesses should replatform using cloud. By moving to cloud at scale, businesses would then be able to move the majority of their workloads to more efficient systems that give them more computing power and flexibility and move away from redundant technologies. The good thing is, we are beginning to see more businesses placing value on cloud. In 2017, only 81% of Leapfroggers had adopted some form of cloud technology, but by 2020, this number rose to 98%. This increase demonstrates that this is indeed the era of cloud, and the value that cloud brings in helping companies maximise their digital transformation journey.

Next, businesses need to be unafraid to reframe and shift their mindset and adapt as needed. Instead of trying to build custom expensive IT systems and platforms, businesses should learn to partner with public-cloud providers and start-ups, developing a strong partnership across the ecosystem. By doing so, companies can quickly scale innovation and increase revenue from non-core business lines.

Lastly, businesses should reach out and embrace a broader value agenda to prepare for the road ahead. Making a commitment to reach beyond traditional business priorities and focusing on addressing personalised employee upskilling, well-being, and mental health can help companies reimagine their workforce operations during a period of disruption. New technology can help deliver better training experiences and predict and match training to job requirements. This empowers the workforce with the necessary skills and resources to adapt within the new normal, creating better overall value for the company.

EITN: How can technology lead the way for business bounce-back from COVID-19?

Ryoji: As we enter a period of uneven recovery, business leaders need to reimagine their company’s purpose by embedding responsible practices and creating multidimensional value at the core of their strategies. As they extend their mission, enterprise technology must move in lockstep, reaching beyond current priorities.

While creating digital fluency across the enterprise is critical, business leaders have to reach for a wider set of responsibilities, starting with their people. This requires innovation designed not just to improve people’s performance, but also their well-being. And it calls for radically human systems that help meet the values of customers, partners and wider society. This will be crucial to drive change and thrive in the post-crisis economy.