Business Transformation: How Business Leaders See the Impact of 2020 and Their Plans for the Future

Business Transformation in 2021
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Stating the obvious, 2020 was a big deal. It was a disruptive year. For everyone. Literally, all of mankind faced some sort of obstacle during the first year of the millennium’s second decade. It’s no small wonder, then, that business leaders met their fair share of difficulties too: fear of change, remote work when remote work seemed impossible; employee relations when relations were stymied; silo-busting as they were getting built; and survival when survival is all that mattered. Don’t take my word for it; these are the sentiments we hear from most of the 500 business and technology leaders we spoke to as part of our Transforming the Norm survey – a comprehensive study designed to understand how business transformation has happened and to offer insights into the future of business.

This article via @TOPdesk looks at the results of a comprehensive study designed to understand how business has transformed and to offer insights into the future of business. #digitaltransformation #ITSM Click To Tweet

Hoping for the best after a bad year

The leaders we spoke with expressed many things they hope to achieve in the year ahead. Their business transformation wish lists are long. Most hope to innovate their organizations through advancements in technology and infrastructure, but what they’d planned for 2020 was railroaded by the pandemic. Forcing them to respond to other pressures, such as survival and switching to remote-based environments when they were previously unprepared to do so.

So, as 2021 appears to be a bumper year regarding new investments, most are re-assessing their priorities for what these investments will look like. Smaller organizations may have fared a bit better than their larger peers, likely a result of their nimbleness, we found. Our look into the current environment found that bigger organizations (92%) with 250 to 500 employees are re-assessing.

A new study via @TOPdesk finds that more than half (54%) of business leaders said email is the most important channel for customers to engage with their business. #ITSM Click To Tweet

As might be imagined for most organizations, their primary focus was their users – inside the organization and out. Given that 2020 was the year of remote everything, communicating directly with customers has impacted the health of every business. Modality of communication turned out to be old-school:

Email. An even more antiquated form of communication method was the telephone, a close second to email, according to those we asked.

Communication portals nor self-service platforms seemed to break into leader’s collective consciousness.

Two-dimensional modalities (phone and email) thriving in an ever-evolving 3-D world

The numbers tell the story. More than half (54%) of business leaders said email is the most important channel for customers to engage with their business. Telephone is nearly as popular (53%).

Only 35% of the leaders we spoke with said live chat is the most crucial channel for how their customers engage with them. While we’re encouraged by the fact that more than one-third of users prefer chat, we were somewhat surprised to discover email and phone (speaking directly with another person to address a user’s concern) just won’t give up the crown they’ve worn for literal generations.

It’s worth noting again that size does matter in this regard. Most business leaders (62%) in companies with 50 to 99 employees said email is the most important engagement channel for how their customers engage with them. That number drops to 48% of respondents who work in companies with more than 500 employees. These larger organizations may have the resources to push their users to communication modalities. They may have the resources to implement newer business transfromation technologies with different capabilities or a mix of these factors or others entirely.

What do these users want and value? That’s an entirely different kind of story.

A new study finds that only 35% of the leaders state that live chat is the most crucial channel for how their customers engage with them – @TOPdesk #ITSM #servicedesk Click To Tweet

Business transformation: What customers deem valuable

While most organizational leaders believe they’re in touch with their customers, the truth is it’s hard to understand just how in touch they actually are since most don’t measure the sentiment or don’t have the capability of doing so.

The fact is 395 people we spoke with “believe” they are in touch with their customer bases and understand what they see as value. The truth is, only about 25 people admitted that they don’t know what their customers want.

For example, in terms of business transformation, most organizational leaders (75%) firmly believe that the demand for customer self-service will increase over the next two years. However, whether organizations are meeting these expectations is a different story. Only 42% of business leaders said they’re currently able to meet customer expectations for self-sufficiency, but doing so requires some work if that’s actually what end users want. Remember, most organizations also report that email and phone (the two types of communications that allow for one-on-one interaction) are the primary communication channels between the organization and its users. 

If self-service is what users want, only 29% of leaders said everything’s in place.

Finally, we wanted to understand the value of enterprise service management (ESM).

If #selfservice is what users want, only 29% of leaders said everything's in place – @TOPdesk #servicedesk #ITSM Click To Tweet

The value of Enterprise Service Management to business transformation

There are two ways to look at the feedback we received from business leaders about their understanding of ESM: They understand it as a business transformation solution set and find value in it for their organization, or they didn’t know what it is.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most smaller organizations (one to 50 employees) are not aware of ESM’s value. More than 50% of businesses with 51 to 250 employees said they’re not aware of its value. At least in the UK, the sweet spot seems to be those organizations with between 251 and 500 employees.

These organizations are mature enough to have several service departments serving multiple teams and users, and a shared services solution within these organizations providing maximum value.

However, those familiar with the concept of ESM overwhelmingly agree that ESM brings value to their organization. This shows that while there is unawareness of ESM within the C-Suite, those who know about ESM understand its value and benefit to their teams and customer experiences.

Results of a study by @TOPdesk finds that more than 50% of businesses with 51 to 250 employees say that they’re not aware of the value of enterprise service management. #ITSM #ESM Click To Tweet

For those of us in ESM, that means we’re doing things right, and there’s much room for more education about the benefit of service management.

Last year we went through a great deal of disruption. Therefore, business transformation and digital transformation, including the continued evolution of ESM, is in full bloom. What we thought wasn’t possible at the beginning of 2020 has been addressed by nearly every business that strives to survive.

While many of us may have feared the changes we faced, personal and professional survival always finds a way. We’re vastly further ahead technologically than we were a year ago, and we’ve all probably matured much more than the previous 12 months might suggest. Of course, with all things learned, there’s still room for additional growth along the way.

Head of Consultancy at TOPdesk

Sumit is the Head of Consultancy at TOPdesk UK, and has worked with service organizations all over the world to improve their service management processes and strategies, from the U.S. and U.K. to Iraq and Kazakhstan. He’s also a regular presenter at service management events across the globe.

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