This blog features commentary from Jan Devereux, Head of Customer Value for Zag part of Accenture, on Accenture’s 2021 Technology Vision for SAP Solutions Driving Change Leading with the SAP Ecosystem.

For a lot of businesses, last year was like that new pair of glasses. The pandemic was a moment of truth, forcing enterprises to look at themselves through a different lens.

It tested us in unexpected ways, it raised the bar for how adaptable and how innovative we needed to be, and it revealed vulnerabilities that many businesses had largely been able to ignore before.

From inflexible work arrangements to fragile supply chains, to untrustworthy information, COVID-19 showed businesses the limitations of how they have been operating.

And in response, we’ve seen businesses across every industry have begun a journey to reinvention. Dramatically accelerating their digital transformation timelines and compressing plans for the next decade into the next 2 or 3 years.

And to keep employees working and meet rapidly changing customer needs, businesses pivoted faster than many previously thought they could.

Because of their rapid tech adoption:

  • 30% of companies expect to return to pre-COVID levels of revenue growth in 2021,
  • another 30% expect to recover by 2022.*

On the other hand, digital laggards – companies who had postponed their digital transformations and lacked the foundation they needed to rapidly pivot during the pandemic – had a rude awakening.

Before the pandemic, Accenture research found that digital leaders – the top 10% of companies in any industry, who were using technology most effectively, were outperforming the rest by a factor of 2.*

Now, the gap has widened. The top 10% are outperforming laggards by 5 times.*

As leaders take stock of where their company stands today, and what the future of their industry looks like, they are facing this wider-than-ever digital achievement gap and four new realities

  • The first new reality is the reinvention of the human experience. How we connect with family and friends, how we meet basic needs like food and health, how we entertain ourselves. For billions of people around the world, all of these things have changed and are dependent on technology now.
  • The second new reality is that every business is a technology business. Technology kept companies running and kept people connected during the pandemic. It has shifted from a supporting role to a starring role in many organisations.
  • The third new reality is how we work and collaborate. We will not return to work as it was pre-pandemic – in fact, Gartner research has found that 48% of employees will probably continue working remotely* at least part-time after the pandemic is over.
  • And our fourth new reality is that sustainability is the new digital. As companies look to rearchitect their foundations during this moment of truth, sustainability, fairness, inclusion and access are critical.

There’s simply no option for businesses to retreat into their familiar comfort zones. The pressing business imperative is to accept that change is inevitable and continuous – and needs to be mastered.

That’s why, this year, Accenture’s Technology Vision calls on leaders to become Masters of Change.

Zag’s CEO and now Head of Technology for Accenture New Zealand, Nick Mulcahy, summarises what local business leaders should take away from the new realities identified in the 2021 report, Leaders Wanted: Masters of Change at a Moment of Truth.

“First, leadership demands technology leadership and tomorrow’s leaders will be those that put technology at the forefront of their business strategy.

“Second, leaders shouldn’t wait for a new normal, they need to reinvent, building new realities using radically different mindsets and models.

“Finally, leaders should embrace a broader responsibility as global citizens, deliberately designing and applying technology to create positive impacts far beyond the enterprise to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.

“As restrictions begin to ease around the world, leaders should consider how these major shifts in the business landscape will influence their business models.”

The good news is that organisations that use SAP® technologies and solutions have a huge opportunity to capitalise on this moment of truth by leading with SAP technology.

Read part B of this blog to explore which SAP technologies are providing a foundation for the business agility, connectivity, sustainability and innovation that’s now essential.

*Source: Accenture Technology Vision 2021 Business and IT Executive Survey. Global N=6,241. ANZ N=360