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Three benefits of tech investment

Jul 17, 2020

With companies tightening their belts, technology budgets are on the chopping block. However, Robert Byrne suggests that more technology investment is needed as we navigate the crisis, not less.

It’s clear that it’s another tough time for businesses. Belts are understandably tightening with capital investment going towards plexiglass screens and other social distancing measures so staff and customers can safely interact and operate in our new COVID reality. 

Unsurprisingly, companies that had invested in technology and digital platforms prior to the COVID-19 crisis have seen clear benefits – some benefits as fundamental as helping them to survive and stay in business. Despite the pressure on budgets that all organisations are feeling, to survive and thrive in the next economic chapter will require more digital investment, not less. 

PwC recently launched the findings from its Chief Information Officers survey that was conducted across 11 countries in Europe, including Ireland. One significant finding from this report is that a notable proportion of respondents in Ireland (36%) are planning a reduction in IT investment for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. However, recent events have clearly shown the benefits of technology investment.

Outlined below are three significant benefits from technology investment that were observed by organisations during the initial months of COVID-19.

Agility

In times of crisis, organisations need to be agile and technology is a key enabler of this. Those organisations that had invested in remote working and collaboration technology minimised disruption and saw real benefits during this crisis. They have been able to maintain sales, serve customers and continue to work together throughout the disruption. Investment in digital tools and collaboration technologies over the past few years enabled companies, including PwC, to move to full remote working over a single weekend while seamlessly continuing to serve our clients.

Looking forward, organisations now need to consider their future agility needs (e.g. increased resource mobility, faster decision-making capability, new routes to market) and invest now to enable this capability. 

Responsiveness 

COVID-19 generated significant volumes of information and processing requests for certain organisations. Examples included banks dealing with massive surges in queries and payment break requests, insurance companies addressing large volumes of quotes and policy information requests etc. Those that had invested in technologies such as automation and data analytics have been able to respond quickly to the urgent set of demands placed on them by COVID-19.

Looking forward, organisations now need to consider how to apply these technologies to develop their responsiveness in a business as usual context.

Customer experience 

Organisations that have invested in their digital channels have demonstrated their ability to increase market reach, improve customer experience and increase revenues. COVID-19 has been one of the greatest triggers for digital transformation. Providing your customers with a rich digital experience is more important than ever in retaining and delighting your customers. Companies in all sectors have had to innovate at pace and embrace digital channels to engage with their customers.

Looking forward, organisations now need to invest in further developing a strong digital experience for their customers to reduce the impact of limited face-to-face interaction.

Despite the temptation to weather the storm and reduce IT investment until economic conditions improve, technology can give organisations the edge in these uncertain times. As organisations shift the focus from survival to emerging from COVID-19, now more than ever, technology investment is a key enabler of your future success.

Robert Byrne is a Partner in Technology Advisory in PwC.