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Technology Investments During COVID-19 Substantially Accelerated Growth for Companies: Accenture Study

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According to new research from Accenture, leading companies that increased their technology investments during the COVID-19 pandemic substantially expanded their growth advantage over competitors.

The findings show that technology has undoubtedly become indispensable to business success, allowing companies to not only survive, but even succeed, during one of history's most disruptive periods.

'Make the Leap, Take the Lead', a recent study, shows that by increasing investments in cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and other technologies, 'Leaders' are now the revenue at five times the pace of 'Laggards', which is significantly higher than the doubled growth rate Leaders posted only a few years ago.

Many Laggard companies, on the other hand, have only recently begun to invest in newer technologies, mostly to sustain business and infrastructure operations throughout the pandemic. This pushed the Laggards further back and forced them to play catch-up.

Leapfroggers are a new type of business that has arisen (18 percent of the entire sample). This group stands out for its rapid mastery of the delicate balance between machine power and increased creativity. Leapfroggers sped up their digital transitions by employing a bold and progressive technology plan that turned the previous year's problems into market opportunities and advantages.

The study polled 4,300 people and gave a score based on the strength of the systems and the size of the flips. The study looked at the financial results of each company, determining the companies were ‘Leaders' (top 10 percent of the entire sample), ‘Leapfroggers' (18 percent of the sample), and ‘Laggards' (bottom 25 percent).

“Our research scored companies on their ‘Systems Strength’ which is a measure of technology adoption, application of technologies at scale, and organizational and cultural readiness for tech-enabled innovation. Strong Systems Strength, combined with a “Flip Size” that substantially pivots IT budgets towards innovation, enables Leaders to greatly extend their growth over Laggards. Meanwhile, Leapfroggers also show tremendous progress by maintaining Systems Strength and infusing innovation across the enterprise. In fact, Leapfroggers are now growing their revenue at four times the rate of Laggards”, said Ramnath Venkataraman, global lead, Integrated Global Services, Accenture Technology

Companies that master these three imperatives, according to the study, have a better chance of succeeding with emerging technology strategies:


•Replatform to the cloud to strengthen systems, reducing redundant technologies and disconnected data through the IT stack while increasing computing capacity and flexibility. For example, by 2017, 80 percent of Leapfroggers had embraced cloud technology, but by 2020, that number had risen to 98 percent.

•Reframe on a technology policy that prioritises innovation. Leapfroggers are masters at changing their perspective and seeing future downturns as opportunities to experiment with new technologies. During the pandemic, scaling new technologies became a top priority for Leapfroggers, and 67 percent would like to actively raise sales from non-core business lines.

•Reach out to internal business functions by extending access to technology, and support a wider value agenda by addressing customized employee upskilling, well-being, and mental wellbeing. In comparison to just 43 percent of Laggards, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Leaders prioritize employee satisfaction by offering digital-based flexible work arrangements.

Over 70 percent of leaders increased their cloud security investments, while 68 percent increased their hybrid cloud investments. Leaders have delved deeper into the Internet of Things (70 percent) and AI and machine learning (40 percent) technologies (59 percent ). Building a foundational cloud infrastructure saves money, allowing IT budgets to shift from maintenance to innovation. Both provide a solid foundation for aligning technology plans with company priorities, resulting in 360-degree benefit for various stakeholders in the organization.

Leapfroggers transformed their technology strategies and goals in a short period of time, taking advantage of the crisis to expand their use of advanced and emerging technologies by 17 percent and scale technology through their organizations. They also encouraged thoughtful organizational change in order to maximize the benefits of these innovations, reducing transformation times from years to months.

“This report shows that leaders are adopting innovative technology earlier and investing more frequently than their peers. These leaders focus not only on the implementation of new technology, but the critical steps needed to ensure successful scaling across the enterprise, including new agile ways of working, making important changes to reinforce an innovation-led culture and upskilling their workforce. Each of these actions result in creating new sustainable value for their stakeholders”, added Annette Rippert, group chief executive, Strategy & Consulting, Accenture.

“Our research scored companies on their ‘Systems Strength’ which is a measure of technology adoption, application of technologies at scale, and organizational and cultural readiness for tech-enabled innovation. Strong Systems Strength, combined with a “Flip Size” that substantially pivots IT budgets towards innovation, enables Leaders to greatly extend their growth over Laggards. Meanwhile, Leapfroggers also show tremendous progress by maintaining Systems Strength and infusing innovation across the enterprise. In fact, Leapfroggers are now growing their revenue at four times the rate of Laggards”, said Ramnath Venkataraman, global lead, Integrated Global Services, Accenture Technology.

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