Accelerated digital transformation in response to pandemic has strengthened business resiliency
Toronto, ON, October 28, 2020 – The majority of Canadian business leaders (69 per cent) are confident that their business will survive the pandemic into 2021 and just over half (54 per cent) feel confident their company will be able to adapt to whatever the upcoming year might hold. Similarly, half (51 per cent) are confident their business could survive the second wave or spike in coronavirus infections. These are some of the key findings from a new survey released today by Microsoft Canada that explores confidence levels among Canadian businesses months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact technology has had on their operations and workforce.
Microsoft surveyed 670 business decision-makers across a spectrum of types and sizes of Canadian businesses, ranging from micro (fewer than 10 employees) to large enterprises (500+ employees). While many say they have taken a hit from the pandemic and have had to change the way they operate, most (56 per cent) say the pandemic has provided the catalyst their company needed to adopt new technology and new ways of working.
“Digital resilience is paramount and never more so than when dealing with the impact of major disruptions like the pandemic. Organizations are relying on technology to adapt and thrive – from emergency response, to recovery, to reimagining the way we work and live,” said Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada. “The pace of digital transformation has accelerated all over the world, and it is clear, those organizations that are using data, AI and the cloud are better equipped and more likely to not just survive, but to thrive.”
A CATALYST FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Whether it has been a shift to remote work leveraging collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams to maintain a connected workforce, or digitizing key business operation using Dynamics 365 and Power Platforms, there is a strong perception among Canadian business leaders that having to adopt new technology and new ways of working has been a direct result of the COVID-19 experience.
Nearly half (45 per cent) said their digital transformation was overdue, and two thirds of that group (66 per cent) say their business suffered amid the pandemic as a result. However, 71 per cent of those who felt a transformation was needed, explicitly agree that COVID-19 has provided the catalyst their organization needed to adopt new ways of working and new types of technology.
As companies shift to hybrid work and continue to move their products and services online, it is more important than ever that security is top of mind and a key area of investment. Only one in four business decision makers (26 per cent) say that their company has already identified and applied new security solutions for online processes, as part of its COVID response, and one in five (20 per cent) have prioritized migrating to the cloud within the next year.
“Millions of people moving to remote work, remote learning and even remote socializing in a matter of months means the number of potential targets for cyber criminals has never been higher,” Peesker said. “While I am heartened by the innovation and agility I have seen, business leaders must be equally focused on securing their organizations’ digital infrastructure as they evolve their business.”
TALENT AND WORKFORCE SKILLS
The global recovery will be digital and the success of Canada’s recovery will be contingent in our ability to innovate, but organizations can only do that if they have the workforce to adopt and deploy digital solutions. The survey revealed only four in ten (38 per cent) business decision makers have changed their employee training or are specifically training their staff in the new tools and platforms their organization is now using. Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents said that training staff – or hiring new staff – with the skills required in their new ways of working has been a challenge for their business this year.
“There is an immediate need to cultivate a skilled talent pipeline to drive innovation in Canada and fuel economic recovery,” said Peesker. “Whether it’s students preparing for the future, those in the workforce keeping pace with the latest skills to drive innovation or those seeking new skills so they can pursue meaningful employment opportunities, we must ensure Canadians have access to the training they need to succeed in the digital economy.”
To help alleviate both the needs and the challenges in giving employees new skills, this summer Microsoft announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of this year. This was followed by an announcement in September whereby 12 post-secondary institutions joined Microsoft Canada for the “Canada Skills Program” enabling more than 4,500 students in diploma, degree and continuing education programs to graduate with in-demand data analytics, AI and cloud certifications in the first phase of the program.
Other key findings of the survey include
- Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of those whose businesses have been negatively affected by COVID-19 believe they’ll remain operational next year.
- Most (56 per cent) say they have had to change how they do business, with 50 per cent saying they have had to change how they serve their customers.
- Twenty-nine per cent reported they have lost business or customers to the pandemic, with more than one-quarter (28 per cent) having had to cut staff.
Despite the disruption, a sizeable number of business leaders think the pandemic has taught them valuable lessons, with 64 per cent saying it will help their business evolve and grow in the future. More than half (54 per cent) feel their company is better equipped now than pre-COVID to keep pace with shifts in their industry – with more than one-quarter (28 per cent) saying their business is serving customers better now than before the pandemic struck.
To build the skills needed for business resiliency and to drive innovation, visit Microsoft Learn or opportunity.linkedin.com to access no-cost learning tools today.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
These results are drawn from a survey conducted by Fuse Insights on behalf of Microsoft Canada. A total of 670 business decision makers from across Canada, representing a range of company sizes and industries, were surveyed online in English and French between September 30, 2020 and October 9, 2020.
ABOUT MICROSOFT CANADA
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq “MSFT”) the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit www.microsoft.ca.