Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

IDC president: 5 stages of COVID-19 pandemic enterprise recovery

Crawford Del Prete is the president of IDC. Del Prete is a leading authority on the IT industry. He spoke with Ray Wang and Vala Afshar about the five stages of enterprise COVID-19 pandemic recovery and the technologies that will have the biggest impact on growth in the next normal.

Crawford Del Prete, president of IDC, was appointed in February 2019. Prior to his current role, he served as IDC's chief operating officer. Through his leadership, IDC has established a leading position as the world's most prominent and trusted technology market intelligence provider. Del Prete is a leading authority on the IT industry and has completed extensive research on the structure and evolution of the information technology industry. Del Prete advises technology and business leaders on how to adapt and change in a time when technology is changing the world.

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  Crawford Del Prete (Twitter @Craw), president of @IDC.

To help us better understand the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and future IT investment trends and key technologies that can enable economic growth in a post-pandemic digital economy, Ray Wang, CEO and founder of a Silicon Valley-based advisory firm Constellation Research, and I invited Crawford Del Prete to join our weekly show DisrupTV. Here are my main takeaways of our conversation with Del Prete.

The five stages of enterprise COVID-19 pandemic recovery

Driven by the global pandemic, IDC believes we will go through five phases from crisis to recovery. Each of those phases will have a related business imperative be the primary focus of senior business executives -- the CEO agenda. Del Prete defined the five stages of enterprise response by the following: 1. crisis, 2. slow down, 3. recession, 4. investment, and 5. recovery. The primary focus areas for these five stages are: 1. business continuity, 2. ROI focus, 3. operational resiliency, 4. acceleration, and 5. innovation. This means that innovation is the only viable path for enterprise recovery. 

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Leveraging technology to transition to the next normal.

IDC

Maintaining business continuity defined the crisis mode. Del Prete believes for the most part we are exiting the crisis phase. Now we are in the cost optimization phase which we are in now. We then move to the third state -- the business resiliency phase. This is a focus on getting through a recession. A typical recession lasts nine months to 18 months. The fourth stage is a targeted investment phase, and eventually, we get into the growth phase--- the emergence of the new enterprise. Del Prete said the growth stage may come in mid-2021 to early 2022. This timetable varies by geography. 

The path to recovery is paved with innovation and use of technology 

According to IDC, the Future Enterprise is an organization that underpins business processes with technology. It's fueled by innovation, it's platform-enabled, and it's ecosystem-centric. According to Del Prete, the pandemic underscored the importance of digital transformation in the eyes of CEOs. Business leaders now find themselves at a decision point -- to follow the same course of cost-cutting as previous recessions have dictated -- or to flatten their own organization's recessionary curve by leveraging technology.

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Role of IT services on the journey to pandemic recovery.

IDC

The innovation business focus during the recovery response phase is defined by reinvention and rebuilding. Business leaders will extend digital transformation initiatives, leverage new business models aimed at speed and agility, prioritize business continuity, move applications to the cloud and focus on improving the stakeholder experience -- employees, customers, partners, and communities. 

IT investments on innovation vary by geography 

Del Prete reminded us that IT  spending varies by geography. China will show a GDP increase in 2020 for example. IT spending in the US is on a slight decline. Europe is now starting to flatten out on IT spending. Europe has done a great job of managing the pandemic. The US does not have a consistent policy regarding managing the pandemic so the path to recovery and spending is slower than some other regions around the world. 

Del Prete said companies are focused on innovating. They are focusing on cloud computing, security, collaboration technologies, and platforms that enable customer engagement and collaboration. Security, collaboration and productivity, and cloud (SaaS) are at the top of the investment thesis. 

According to IDC, spending on services will decline due to reductions in budgets, requests for price reductions, spending in industries so affected by the pandemic they have to shut down operations, and the need to shift priorities from a growth agenda to cost containment.   

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IDC COVID-19 tech index 2020 -- worldwide.

The IDC COVID-19 Tech Index is a leading indicator for IT Spending, which is designed to provide rapid updates to changes in buyer sentiment and underlying market indicators before these are factored into the official market and macroeconomic forecasts. The IDC index is based on surveys of enterprise IT buyers around the world, who are asked to provide guidance on a variety of factors including general business confidence, overall IT spending plans, and specific changes to budget allocations for individual technologies. 

The hybrid future of work -- at home and office

Del Prete talked to us about using technology for workers to be productive at home. Del Prete and I share a common thought about working from home. Neither of us was super comfortable from working from home before the pandemic. Today, we are both comfortable and amazed by how much more engaged we are with our stakeholders. Del Prete said that this is the easy part - all of us in front of screens, collaborating with others. The hard part will be when we are in the next normal, traveling again, back in offices, and engaging with others in person. We both believe that the future will be a hybrid model where we will continue to heavily leverage digital collaboration technologies to work from anywhere. 

The need for a digital-first organization has accelerated by more than two years 

Del Prete believes the acceleration for a digital-first organization has been pulled in by the pandemic. He spoke about various industries that are focused on accelerating digital transformation including telemedicine. The intelligent edge, powered by AI and 5G technologies, have accelerated digital transformation in many industries. Del Prete believes that transformation initiatives have accelerated by more than two years because of the pandemic. 

Business leaders must stay accessible, empathetic and trustworthy 

Del Prete sends a weekly note to all of his 2,000 employees at IDC. Del Prete committed to regularly communicate with all of IDC. Del Prete believes that business leaders must give permission to their employees to walk away from work when needed and be mindful of their physical and mental health. Business leaders need to be empathetic. They need to be grateful and engaged. Del Prete and all of IDC have produced more content during the pandemic than any other period in the company's history. IDC is delivering virtual events and encourage their stakeholders to be collaborative and helpful to each other. Del Prete is nearing two years of serving as IDC's president and he feels that he is a different and better leader now than when he started.

Ray and I personally know Del Prete. He is one of the smartest and most forward-looking technology and business leaders in the world. I highly encourage you to watch our entire video conversation.