The impact of COVID-19 has challenged global technology sector business leaders to both navigate uncharted territory and accelerate their strategies in three areas: digital transformation, ESG (environmental, social, and governance), and supply chain resiliency.
COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of driving enterprise transformation enabled by technology. Tech CEOs are betting on digital transformation to make their companies more resilient, agile, and customer focused. In a KPMG global survey, some CEOs say digital transformation has accelerated the creation of new business models and revenue streams by years compared to their original timelines. Also, combining emerging technologies that enable automation, artificial intelligence, powerful computing, connected devices, massive data transfer, collaboration, and business resilience are helping enterprises recover from the initial impacts of COVID-19, setting a strong foundation for the future.
Tech CEOs identified a lack of IT skills as the greatest challenge to advancing digital transformation agendas. To address this, several of the tech giants have announced ambitious plans to upskill the workforce, though plans are not universal across the industry. In another hopeful sign, technology leaders in various KPMG studies noted that today’s work-from-home world has expanded the potential talent pool and the ability to hire from outside their company.
COVID-19 is redefining what good business leadership looks like. Environmental considerations remain important, but societal impacts have moved up significantly on the corporate agenda.
The technology industry, perhaps more so than any other sector, has the resources, visibility, and influence in our daily lives to be the environmental leader and catalyst on climate change issues. Several leading technology companies have already stepped forward and made public proclamations to become carbon neutral within the next few years.
In the area of social issues, inclusion and diversity have been priorities in the technology industry for quite some time, and the recent social equality movements have added to the urgency. Some tech CEOs in the global KPMG study agree that progress on diversity and inclusion has moved much too slowly.
Governance is the third component of ESG and, in part, encompasses a company’s internal controls and audits. Remote workforces and distributed operating models demanded by COVID-19 have made cyber security and protecting company and customer data even more important, and more difficult, than ever before due to an increase in points of network vulnerability.
Supply chain resiliency
Even before COVID-19, technology companies were building resiliency into their supply chains due to geopolitical tensions, increasing nationalism, new tariffs, and renegotiated trade agreements. COVID-19 represents the final inflection point to optimize supply chains and reduce risk.
Tech CEOs have to rethink their global supply chain approach given the disruptive impact of the pandemic. Supply chain digitalization is now needed to enhance real-time visibility into product status and location. Real-time data related to supplier system status, alerts, and geopolitical events helps organizations manage performance and issue resolution. Blockchain technology can create an immutable data trail that improves confidence and trust in the quantity and quality of goods that are produced, shipped, and delivered. Artificial intelligence, coupled with analytics, can create not only a predictive, but also a prescriptive, supply chain risk solution.
To learn more about these technology sector trends around digital transformation, ESG, and supply chain, read KPMG’s new global technology industry CEO outlook report.
To schedule an interview with Mark Gibson, please contact Mike Alva.