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Tech, digital skills and access key to business resilience - 2degrees study

Tue 2 Nov 2021

The key to business resilience could be as simple as three ingredients: Digital skills, access, and technology. That’s according to 2degrees’ most recent study of New Zealand businesses, which polled 1,000 business decision-makers around the country.

The study, titled Shaping Business, found that technology has been a key enabler to business recovery after the pandemic and major disruptions. Digital capabilities are important to getting back on track - 35% say that it is important to have the flexibility to work from home, 26% put their weight behind improving digital skills and access, and 20% say that better technology also helped.

Of those polled, 17% have invested in new computers and remote working equipment, 17% have also trained up their staff with new digital skills, and 15% have invested in better communication technologies. Further, 9% note that they missed an opportunity to invest in more digital training last year, however 35% plan to invest in digital upskilling next year.

According to 2degrees chief business officer Andrew Fairgray, businesses need to embrace digital capabilities in their journey through the changing business environment.

“In 2021, every business is a technology company, in some way. Technology has played a role in nearly every business’s ability to continue through the ongoing disruption of the past 18 months, and it will continue to as the environment changes.”

“What is worrying is that 37% of businesses who don’t believe they have the digital skills to get ahead claim it is due to the lack of motivation and having other priorities they need to focus on. Knowing the impact technology is having on business stability, this figure is concerningly high.”

The report also found that businesses are more optimistic about their future this year. In September, prior to lockdown, 30% of respondents felt more optimistic than they did in 2020, while half felt the same and 19% felt more pessimistic.

During the latest lockdown, businesses remained in good spirits - 26% felt optimistic, 31% were unsure, and 14% felt more pessimistic than they did previously.

The report analysed how well businesses were prepared for the latest lockdown. According to the results, 68% felt well prepared, and 13% were caught off guard.

“However, there is a difference between businesses’ operational preparedness, and the emotional preparedness of their teams,” says Fairgray.

“More than a third of Kiwi businesses say they were emotionally prepared for lockdown and their teams were still coping well, with 13% struggling. That means nearly half of businesses (47%) are ‘just getting by’, illustrating a high degree of ‘in the middle."

Challenges include supply chain disruption and customer engagement, according to respondents.

“For all Kiwi businesses battling through lockdown, the results are reason to be proud, demonstrating strong resilience despite the fatigue, and a high level of preparedness for sudden change. We see a big opportunity for many organisations to grow digital capabilities to boost customer engagement. The next time we conduct our study in early 2022, we’d love to see a shift by even more Kiwi businesses,” Fairgray concludes.

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