COVID-19 Has Widespread, Overwhelming Impact on Digital Transformation

Businesses took the adage “adapt or die” to heart and stepped on the gas to survive the pandemic.


With COVID-19 slowing down or putting a halt to activities in much of the world, one thing that has sped up in 2020 is digital transformation. As many sectors have shifted to operating remotely, enterprises have been forced to reconsider the software, sensors, automation and processes they used pre-pandemic. Business’ previous roadmaps for responding to the changing tech landscape, which may have taken years, have been condensed and accelerated to keep businesses running and reaching their customers during the pandemic.

To understand how businesses are adapting to the new reality, Twilio sponsored a blind survey fielding questions about how the pandemic has affected digital engagement. More than 2,500 enterprise decision-makers from around the world weighed in.

The Digital Accelerant of the Decade

Twillo found that 97 percent of decision-makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation. Two-thirds report that it accelerated by “a great deal,” and, on average, respondent companies report that COVID-19 shortened the timeline for new digital communications strategies by six years.

Construction and energy companies saw the largest leap in their timetables compared to all vertical markets, on average, seeing advancements in their digital transformations of 8.1 and 7.2 years, respectively.

Digital Communications Are a Priority

Almost all companies (95 percent) are seeking new ways of engaging customers as a result of COVID-19. In fact, 92 percent say that enabling digital communications for customers, shareholders, employees, and others was a critical part of their initial response plans for the pandemic. That same number, 92 percent, agree that not just enabling, but transforming, digital communications is extremely or very critical to address current business challenges.

Businesses have also placed new importance in having multiple channels of communication. Over half of respondents (54 percent) say COVID-19 propelled focus on omnichannel communications, and 53 percent added new channels during the pandemic – with an average of 3.5 net-new channels implemented. One in three companies began using live chat and interactive voice response (IVR) channels for the first time, and 92 percent say their organization is very or somewhat likely to expand digital communication channels even as the world reopens. Technology companies had the most respondents, 70 percent, who stated that they were “very” likely to expand through reopening.

Barriers to Digital Transformation Seemed to Fall in 2020

Although digital transformation had its own set of barriers pre-pandemic, businesses found ways to overcome them. About 79 percent of respondents say that COVID-19 led to an increase in their budgets for digital transformation. Companies also report overcoming hurdles such as a lack of clear strategy (37 percent), getting executive approval (37 percent), reluctance to replace legacy software (35 percent), and lack of time (34 percent).

Remote work has also become widespread, and 99 percent of all respondents agree that the technologies their teams are now using will create opportunities to continue remote work in the future. More respondents in the technology industry (80 percent) believe that remote work is a definite part of the future, as opposed to 60 percent of those in the finance sector.

While differences in the average responses vary across geographic region and industry, no one was unaffected or ignored the difference digital transformation would mean to their business. As a software developer or ISV, talk to your users about their most pressing needs and their updated forecasts and plans for the future. Then, meet that demand.

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.

Zebra MC9400
Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.