Evolving business and technology priorities in Asia Pacific post-COVID-19

The unprecedented lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses. As companies in Asia Pacific look to come out of this difficult period, they must make some hard choices.

A recent Forrester survey confirms what we already knew from our clients: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Asia Pacific firms' business and technology priorities. This new data also allows us to compare the results of the survey during COVID-19 to those we recorded in January 2020. In our May survey, we re-contacted about 10% of the business and tech leaders who participated in the January survey -- more than 400 respondents in the Asia Pacific -- to understand how their business and tech priorities have shifted due to the crisis. 

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Here are some key findings: 

  • While 26% of respondents are at firms in survival mode, 16% are in growth mode. Companies generally find themselves in one of three modes: survival, adaptive, and growth. Once leaders understand their mode, they need to clarify their top-level goals and take specific actions to create the right tech budget both for their current situation and as their business conditions change in the future. Unsurprisingly, May's data showed that 51% of respondents at firms in Asia Pacific expect their future tech spend to decrease; this is in stark contrast to the 53% that expected to increase by more than 5% before the crisis. 
  • Business agility is a top business priority across modes. Again, unsurprisingly, respondents at companies in survival mode put growing revenues and cutting costs as their top two business priorities for the next 12 months. While those in adaptive mode also see cutting costs as a high priority, respondents at firms in growth mode put improving their ability to innovate and accelerating their shift to digital business in their top five business priorities. Interestingly, accelerating their response to business and market changes is one of the top five priorities regardless of the company's mode. Today's highly volatile and uncertain environment makes it clear to business and tech leaders that enterprise adaptiveness is the only sustainable way forward. 
  • Large internet-of-things, big data, and martech projects could be delayed or canceled. We know that COVID-19 has had a direct and positive impact on cloud infrastructure and platforms, IT security and risk, and mobility spend. What the May survey also shows is that companies in survival or adaptive mode are likely to cancel or delay some of the tech purchases that they had planned before the crisis. This is particularly true for internet-of-things, big data, business intelligence and analytics, and martech software purchases. 

Work-from-home is the new normal. Our #PandemicEX survey data had already examined this trend: About half of respondents said they couldn't wait to get back to work, while 44% said they were afraid to go back. In the Technographics survey, 48% of all respondents in the Asia Pacific indicated that their firm would permanently maintain a higher rate of full-time remote employees; this increased to 68% of respondents at companies in growth mode. Business and tech leaders will have to take a step back and design remote work programs that enable their teams to be more resilient going forward. 

My colleague Samuel Higgins and I recently presented the results of this survey in a complimentary on-demand webinar. For more information and guidance about pandemic management, visit Forrester's COVID-19 Hub

This post was written by VP and Research Director Frederic Giron and it originally appeared here