Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that makes our hearts sing.

Steve Jobs, American inventor, designer and entrepreneur

The greater the impact of COVID-19 on a business, the more technology is seen as vital for business continuity.

The most resilient firms are looking to invest in innovation, rather than cut costs, as they emerge from this crisis. Taken together, the data suggest businesses are prioritising investment in automation, but this is not at the expense of the workforce.

The adoption of technology and investing in innovation are going to be the top priorities for the next five years.

Automated production processes are a clear differentiator in how readily firms managed this crisis. Companies’ focus on people includes a clear role for technology to enable internal cultural change. This recognises that upskilling employees makes the workforce more resilient.

Considering the relative use of technology today and future investment priorities reveals a dual focus on improving communications and relationships on the one hand, and automation on the other. Tools to enable virtual meetings and collaboration are the joint top development priority alongside automation. Digital payment tools are the second highest priority.


said virtual meeting and collaboration tools will become standard technologies

Looking ahead 5 years, how will your business evolve to prepare for future uncertainty?

  Total companies Companies agile enough to be stable % difference
Increase our digitalisation/ adoption of technology 35% 39% +4
Workforce training 33% 37% +4
Invest in innovation (research and development) 32% 39% +7
Automate more of our business 31% 33% +2
Reduce our cost base 29% 22% -7

In terms of future business priorities, automation was the top business priority for almost one in four companies, of equal importance to tools to enable virtual meetings and collaboration.

Respondents appear to appreciate the broad-based potential of technology. It is expected to improve agility and productivity and ensure employees are prepared for the future. It is therefore important to both resilience and long-term growth.

The vast majority of decision makers surveyed agree that times of adversity showcase how businesses can leverage technology to enhance their business (94%).

So while few companies could have anticipated the health pandemic, the early signs suggest a broad appreciation of how it may change the future. Technology is a deep trend reshaping industries.

The importance of digitisation of production processes and digital payment is strongest amongst businesses in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and mainland China.

Just as technology fuelled post-war economy recovery in the 1950s, the survey points to major shifts in both how employees work and production processes.