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In April 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, famously claimed he’d seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. With entire business processes forced into irreversible change to adapt to lockdowns and new methods of remote working, his statement reflected the state of upheaval and transition the world found itself in at the time.

Over two years down the line, businesses have invested significant resources into this transition, but now face a different challenge. Decision makers are having to make tough calls on where to focus their organisation’s energy, as they consider the developing impact of the global economic uncertainty. Soaring costs, inflation and continued supply issues are pushing businesses to consider money-saving solutions. As a result, the digital transformation of the last couple of years is under threat of stagnation. 

However, those businesses that divert their digital journey now and cut investment in reaction to the current economic shift risk making a huge mistake. It may seem counterintuitive to invest at a time of economic upheaval but backing digital transformation now will see significant benefits in the long run.

Continued investment for the long term

The pandemic acted as a trigger for so many organisations to facilitate secure remote working, drive cloud adoption, implement automation and introduce many more new technologies. These rapid changes acted as much more than short-term fixes, opening up a world of opportunity for long-term growth that had before been ignored.

Business leaders now see the benefits they previously missed out on due to short-term financial caution: greater productivity, faster product development, lower costs, smoother supply chain and resource management, as well as an overall improved customer experience.

Digital transformation is always a continuous process rather than a one-off solution though. A cloud journey, for example, doesn’t end at implementation – it needs continued attention to become an impactful part of business strategy. This is why now is not the time to slow down – the journey has only just begun.

Adaptability and resilience during uncertainty

In fact, with the road ahead still unclear, digital transformation will be more important than ever. Economic crises are rarely linear, and so business leaders must consider the changeable future and prepare for regular course correction.

Those organisations that continue to invest in new technologies will be the ones that find themselves most quickly able to adapt to changing circumstances. Intelligent infrastructure will offer improved speed and quality of decision making based on changing business needs and future scenarios, strengthening their ability to respond accordingly.

Investment in people is investment in digital

A harsh lesson learned by many in the past two years is that digital transformation is not just investment in technology alone. New technologies can only be taken advantage of if time and money is put into the right people too. Employees need the right training and support to make the most of new technologies and maximise their capabilities across business processes. 

We’ve already seen tech employees jumping ship in huge numbers in recent times, with skills in high demand. The cost-of-living crisis now means salaries aren’t stretching as far, so employers need to be on alert for restless employees as the best tech talent assesses their options and aim for higher salaries.

Business leaders find themselves in a tricky spot as the economic downturn looks set to continue. They must find the right balance between cutting costs and investing simultaneously to navigate the current climate and set their organisations up for long-term success. By continuing the digital push of recent years and investing in intelligent technologies, and the people behind them, they will find the flexibility and resilience they are looking for.