Is Your Technology Ready for the New Digital Reality?

For today’s businesses, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. COVID-19 has cast a clear and somber spotlight on the urgent need for resilience and digital capabilities. More than ever, businesses must be able to react to sudden and dramatic changes—in their supply chains, in their customer interactions, in how and where their employees work. But many companies simply aren’t there yet.

That’s a problem not only for immediate responses to COVID-19 but also for the longer-term future. Expectations for businesses, employees, and consumers have shifted with remarkable speed. Although the situation is evolving very differently across geographies and industries, one common theme recurs: the need to sense and shape the new reality. What will it take to compete going forward? Three elements are key: a relentless focus on the outcomes that matter; new ways of working; and savvy use of digital and technology.

This isn’t a secret recipe. Digitally mature companies embrace all of these principles, and our research shows that they significantly outperform digital laggards. They’re what we call bionic companies, blending human and technological capabilities to achieve superior outcomes. These companies spark innovation, efficiency, and growth. They have better visibility into their businesses and can more quickly make the radical changes that crises demand. Fundamentally, they are more resilient.

If your goal is to be like them, your aspirations are now table stakes—and you need a better hand. The new reality, which pushes digital channels and remote working to the extreme, has demonstrated the limits of many digital transformations. For all their plans, many companies are still not as data-driven, customer-focused, and agile as they need to be. They haven’t yet fully embraced advanced analytics and AI as critical capabilities for adapting to new trends. They have long-term goals but must now deal with unforeseen and crucial near-term needs.

To help companies prepare for the new reality and develop the necessary resiliency, we have developed an approach that centers on four key imperatives: ensure business continuity, reset the investment portfolio, future-proof the tech function, and build adaptable data and digital platforms. The steps involved in this approach may not seem like transformation as usual—but as COVID-19 has made all too clear, it’s no longer business as usual, either.

Digital and AI Maturity Bring Greater Resilience

In a crisis, businesses must quickly answer and address some critical questions. What’s selling? How do we best interact with customers? Where are the trouble spots in our supply chain? How do we support employees who are working from home? In the COVID-19 crisis, many companies have struggled with their assessments and responses.

Already, we’ve seen that digitally mature companies can reap a performance dividend. In a BCG study of more than 200 companies, digital leaders achieved 1.8x higher earnings growth than digital laggards—and more than double the growth in total enterprise value. (See the exhibit.) We also found that digital leaders channel a larger share of investment to areas such as AI as well as to reskilling, upskilling, and new ways of working. Our findings suggest that these companies are best situated to realize a “resiliency dividend” as well, by leveraging technology and digital capabilities to steer their business in real (or near-real) time, thereby strengthening their position in the midst of a crisis.


By Karalee Close , Michael Grebe , Marc Schuuring , Benjamin Rehberg , and Matthew Leybold

COVID-19Contact the Rapid Response Team