Jun 08, 2020 digital transformation

COVID-19 and Transformational Focus

By Gareth Noyes

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The idea of transformational focus due to COVID-19 has captured the thinking of more than 1 in 3 of technology leaders in the U.S. It may accelerate digital transformation more than any other event since 2013.

Moments of seismic change can strengthen the natural tendencies of leaders and their organizations. While some focus on playing defense, others lean into the idea that the challenge, in this case COVID-19, provides an undeniable opportunity for exploring ideas such as digital transformation.

Look at the infographic below and you will see how your U.S. peers are responding, and then decide how your organization is reacting to the moment. Do you see a rationale to change course? Are you primarily focusing on simply surviving, or do you recognize this as a time to invest in the acceleration of digital transformation?

Among executive leaders in the Global 2000, Forbes’s annual list of the world’s 2,000 leading public companies, 97.5% recognize the need to transform their organizations to become cloud- and AI-based digital organizations. The rate of actual change since 2013, however, has been slow—from 18% of organizations transforming successfully in 2013 (an age ago) to just 28% of organizations succeeding by 2018.

COVID-19 might prove to be an accelerant. Look again at the chart below, which shows how COVID-19 in the U.S. has influenced the thinking among technology (IoT, embedded) and IT leaders in DevSecOps, DevOps, and cloud development. In multiple areas, such as re-skilling people in tech and IT or even how organizations look at 5G, focus is changing. Seismic events like the coronavirus pandemic open the minds of leaders and push them to reprioritize their focus. The growing recognition of the importance of real-time data (80% of organizations), agile application development (82%), and even—at the very heart of digital transformation—the acceleration of new business models (83%) shows how quickly and forcefully COVID-19 is recasting the way we think about the world.

COVID-19 may be influencing the speed of digital transformation more than any recent event. Shifts occur naturally in technology and market leadership, but these responses to today’s pandemic-fueled environmental changes highlight an accelerated refocusing of underlying strategies.


From mid to late April 2020, Wind River® researched beliefs, strategies, and forward projections among technology (embedded, IT, security, and cloud) leaders in five major industries (telecom, aviation, medical industries, automotive, and industrial manufacturing) in China and the USA. Further analysis, the report, and infographics are available at www.windriver.com/covid19-industry-impact/.

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