Businesses plan to invest “significantly in IT” to survive in a post-COVID-19 world, according to new Middlesex University-backed research.
A survey of businesses across 16 different industries found many would make digital technology and operations their biggest focus over the next years after the pandemic.
Dr Suman Lodh, a Senior Lecturer in Finance, in conjunction with Brunel University and business management consultancy firm Continuous Improvements Ltd (CIP Ltd), surveyed more than 100 businesses in July to understand the impact of coronavirus on businesses, areas of concerns and how organisations are responding.
The survey found 22% of respondents claimed they would be prioritising digital solutions in the post-COVID-19 era, and companies “will be investing a significant amount of money in upgrading their IT infrastructure”.
“One of the main problems will be helping more established and older businesses become technologically savvy to continue and sustain their business.," Dr Suman Lodh, a Senior Lecturer in Finance.
When asked which changes they would adopt more permanently in future, 90% of businesses replied it would be flexible working, while 95% stated optimised use of technology.
In total 100% of businesses who responded in retail, research and development, HR & recruitment, property & construction, logistics, engineering & manufacturing, entertainment & media and hospitality agreed the Covid-19 pandemic had negatively affected their business.
Although only 25% and 43% of businesses in learning & development and Information Technology (IT) reported the same negative effects of the virus outbreak.
The pandemic had presented “greater opportunities” for the IT industry with the emphasis on working from home and online services, according to the report.
Dr Lodh said long-running businesses across non-service industries could face great difficulties adapting post-COVID-19.
“The main issues are the technological challenges and many businesses say they want to upgrade their technological knowledge,” said Dr Lodh.
“The service industry is in much better shape (such as accountancy and finance) because they don’t have production as such but they still need technological upgrades.
“The learning of the technology is the biggest concern.
“Some people might give up, even though have a passion for business, because they have so many challenges adapting their company to technology and the online environment.
“One of the main problems will be helping more established and older businesses become technologically savvy to continue and sustain their business.”
In total 13% of respondents stated they will be focusing most on customer experience in future while 11% stated they would be concentrated on, including social distancing, increased cleaning frequencies, better risk management and the implementation of better precautionary measures to withstand future crises.
The report concluded: “The findings of this survey emphasise the need for immediate efforts to be focused on people and operations.
“There is confidence amongst business stakeholders that they will grow within the next two years.
“However in order to achieve this, transformational changes will be required to operations, delivery of services and products, and technological infrastructure in order to manage and optimise their workforce to generate greater value.”