Covid-19: AWS research points to pandemic-induced ‘shortcomings’ in enterprise IT strategies

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings and inflexibility of the digital transformation plans of potentially thousands of European enterprises, according to research by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The public cloud giant claimed the pandemic has highlighted why enterprises should do away with “conventional business planning” methods when setting out their digital strategies, as many of their pre-planned IT purchasing roadmaps left them unable to respond rapidly enough to the changing market conditions caused by Covid.

“The pandemic laid bare the limitations of conventional business planning – carefully orchestrated annual roadmaps built under the illusion of control and the past predicting the future were exposed as not fit for purpose,” AWS said in a blog post, published to coincide with the start of the two-day AWS Summit Online for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

This viewpoint is based on findings gathered from responses to AWS from 10,000 senior business and IT decision-makers, working for enterprises based in France, Germany, Israel, Spain and the UK, to questions about how the pandemic has changed the course of their digital transformation plans.

Nearly half of the respondents (46%) admitted that their organisations had “struggled to adapt” their existing digital transformation plans in the face of changes in consumer habits prompted by the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

But other respondents said the pandemic had accelerated their digital transformation plans by almost two and half years, with 64% stating that their organisations had broadened the range of cloud services they used during the pandemic, while 40% said the situation had compelled their organisations to use off-premise tools for the first time.

As a result, 65% now claim – as lockdown restrictions in various countries are starting to loosen – that their firms have become “more agile, more adaptable and confident about the future”, with many citing the decision to move more of their applications and workloads to the cloud during the early days of the pandemic as a reason for that.

“These leaders told us that the cloud helped them to pivot and innovate (65%), scale to meet changes in demand (63%) and even reduce costs (60%),” said AWS in the blog post.

“Underlining their sense of confidence and optimism, [these respondents] have a positive outlook for the year ahead: 89% expect their businesses to grow in the next year, on average predicting a rise in revenues of 21%.”

AWS further claimed in its analysis of the survey results that these feelings of optimism are the result of firms that took a more experimental approach to adapting their IT strategies in response to the pandemic, experiencing a “reinvention dividend” so that they are now “more resilient and better placed” to tap into new business opportunities in the post-pandemic world.

However, AWS raised concern within its analysis that some of the benefits may be short-lived if enterprise leaders fail to ensure that digital transformation remains a business priority once the pandemic ends.

It pointed to the fact that 50% of respondents said they do not expect to continue transforming their business post-pandemic, but the 50% who do will reap the most benefits, said AWS.

“In many established enterprises, the pandemic has created a new spirit of reinvention, which has accelerated transformation by years, while new entrants – disruptors – were quicker to adapt cloud technologies and have seized the opportunity to take market share,” it added.

“Coupled with more demanding customers, those enterprises unable to embrace a more agile mindset or overcome internal hurdles will fall through the cracks of a market dominated by this new breed of enterprise and new entrants with the power of speed on their side.”

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