Matt Williams, Managing Director EMEA, Telstra
Digital transformation is helping European businesses adapt after a difficult year in the shadow of the pandemic, according to a new report by Telstra, a leading telecommunications and technology company. Matt Williams, Telstra’s Managing Director of EMEA, looks at how organisations are innovating, the need for agility and the challenges of cyber-security in the wake of Covid-19
Covid-19 has changed the way in which we live, learn and work together, perhaps forever. People worldwide have been forced into a rapid digital transition that we had no choice but to adapt to, and accelerate with. Organisations have had to implement entire business strategies that would have otherwise taken years in a matter of months. Employees have had to change their entire work routine, learn new skills and become used to a completely new way of working.
At Telstra, we wanted to understand how organisations across Europe are adapting to this sweeping change. This is why we launched our Agility Report, to discover how they are updating their digital transformation strategies to get the best out of their business at such a critical time. What we found showed that the best-placed organisations were those which focused on their security, and which were able to adapt quickly to fast-moving developments.
Security – an ever-evolving and challenging landscape
It’s clear that cyber-security is more important now than ever in a company’s digital transformation strategy. Unfortunately, the pandemic, coupled with a fragmented workforce, has presented a unique opportunity for cyber-criminals. Our research found 65 per cent of respondents reported an increased number of cyber-attacks during the pandemic.
The energy, oil, gas and utilities sectors reported the greatest increase in attacks, with 80 per cent stating the pandemic had impacted the number of cyber-attacks for their organisation.
Accidental and non-malicious attacks also increased during the pandemic, with some going completely unreported due to a lack of training, or even to simply avoid embarrassment. It is imperative we provide a supportive culture where individuals can openly ask questions, learn how to spot and avoid threats, and report suspected incidents. As a strong security culture can only be shaped by the behaviours of individuals over time, leaders also need to set an example for employees and the wider public to emulate.
However, it’s reassuring that businesses have been quick to realise the heightened risk of attacks, as more than half of our respondents reported that improving cyber-security is a key priority in their Covid-19 recovery strategy.
Agility and cloud – a business necessity
The agility of a business is increasingly a key indicator of success, and that has never been truer than in the midst of a global pandemic. Our research showed that business agility became vital during the pandemic, with success hinging on how quickly organisations could react and adapt to a disparate workforce and customer base. Those who adapted quickly were the winners, and many cited cloud as the key technology that enabled their success. It is therefore surprising that only 23 per cent of respondents reported that their organisation has a cloud-first strategy, with almost half (49 per cent) expressing a need to migrate more applications to the cloud.
Ultimately, the research showed that, regardless of whether organisations implement a cloud-only or hybrid model, they cannot afford to forego the agility benefits that cloud can deliver for both network and business performance.
Applying digital transformation in a Covid world
From our research, it’s heartening to note that organisations are moving in the right direction with their digital transformation strategies, with the majority identifying themselves as more agile than they were before. Four in five respondents agree their organisation needs to increase the pace of its digital transformation, since it underpins their ability to operate, and is a business imperative for future growth and success.
At Telstra, we have always been agile, offering remote working for our employees. So when the pandemic hit we had the technology and tools in place to adapt to the new reality. Remote working used to be a workplace perk, but now it is a necessity.
European businesses have invested heavily in their digital transformation despite the economic downturn, with respondents reporting an average increased spend of 2.71 per cent as a result of the pandemic. Of those surveyed, the financial services industry in particular reported 3.5 times more digital investment than any other sector, with an average spend of $6.55 million.
Building and maintaining confidence
It’s encouraging to see that the businesses surveyed reported strong progress in their digital transformation and innovation plans, especially since a significant proportion identified themselves as being less agile before the pandemic. However, agility should not be the sole consideration in terms of coming out stronger from the pandemic. Cyber-security and a cloud-first approach, as mentioned earlier, are also mission-critical. It is only when this trifecta is addressed that organisations will be able to emerge with confidence into the post-pandemic world.
Read the full report & learn how Telstra can support your transformation journey here.