A study by Workday, a global leader in enterprise technology for human resources and finance, has found that only one-quarter (25%) of Malaysian organisations have accelerated their digital transformation plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while three in five (60%) have slowed down.
The study, titled the Workday Digital Agility Index, was conducted in partnership with IDC, a global technology market intelligence company, and surveyed nearly 900 senior business leaders and C-suite executives in HR, finance and IT across nine markets in Asia Pacific. The findings provide a comprehensive analysis of digital agility in leading Asia Pacific organisations in the wake of COVID-19.
Most Organisations Unable to Adapt During COVID-19
Owing to a lack of digital agility, 90% have struggled to make changes to their financial plans for the year, with 83% unable to realign their organisational structures.
In terms of people and processes, almost four in five (79%) organisations have been unable to track their people’s skillsets to form special taskforces in response to the pandemic, and more than half (56%) were not able to manage new approval and business processes.
When asked which areas of their business are hit the hardest, Malaysian organisations identified customer engagement (65%), the workplace (52%) and the human resources function (38%).
Digital Skills Shortage
A short fall of digital skills has proven to be a significant barrier for organisations in faring better with digital agility amid COVID-19. Two-thirds (69%) of Malaysian organisations lack an enterprise-wide culture of agility. 67% of organisations also say that less than half of their people are equipped with digital skills and capabilities. A staggering 13% say that they have almost no employees with digital experience or skills.
The lack of digital expertise may be due to a prevailing mindset within Malaysian organisations of not viewing talent as a source of competitive advantage and therefore not investing in finding and nurturing it. 79% of Malaysian organisations do not see talent as an important strategic asset and lack the proper tools and processes to manage it.
This mindset also has a spill-over effect for organisations’ employee experiences. Less than half (42%) see the employee experience as an essential consideration in their decision-making.
More Education Needed
Almost all organisations surveyed (92%) see digital transformation as a priority, with 96% using digital technologies to execute their business continuity plans.
The most important areas of focus for Malaysian organisations in their digital transformation plans for the next 12 to 18 months are front-end revenue generating systems (60%), back-end finance systems (52%) and front-end customer touchpoints (50%). However, these focus areas are relatively evenly spread with least important being front-end customer service systems (48%) and back-end HR systems (33%).
Rob Wells, President for Workday Asia, said: “Recent events have brought into focus the importance for businesses be digitally agile. Without the right technological backbone, organisations can no longer move quickly to adapt to rapid change. Most companies this year have had to make significant changes to their financial and human resourcing plans, at quick notice, and our research shows offline processes have hampered this. I hope this study will encourage more leaders to think seriously about how they approach digital transformation and invest for the sake of the long-term health of their organisations and workforces.”
Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, Associate Vice President & Head Digital Transformation, Future Enterprise & SMB, IDC Asia/Pacific, said: “The survey findings are aligned with IDC’s research around digital transformation (DX) and the impact of COVID-19 on Asia Pacific organisations. DX is no longer an option, it’s a matter of survival. This crisis has not only brought about new challenges, but it has also intensified existing inefficiencies, making more evident the need for organisations to focus on becoming agile and adaptable. Those organisations that see the crisis as an opportunity to transform and accelerate the digitalisation of their businesses will emerge stronger and more relevant in the next normal.”