The COVID-19 pandemic posed immense challenges for businesses that could not adjust to changes in consumer and employee behavior and needs. In response to the shock, many organizations took steps to improve business agility.
Many businesses sought to improve agility—the strategic imperative to survive and thrive in challenging times—by investing in digital platforms. A year later, those that invested in platforms are reporting widespread benefits, according to a global survey of 200 C-level leaders conducted by ESI ThoughtLab.
While chief human resource officers are seeing unique benefits from digital platforms, they also note unique barriers to further improvement. Overall, they agree with their peers that more work must be done before the business can fully realize the benefits of these platforms.
Platforms boost the business
Businesses that bet on digital enterprise platforms are seeing significant payoffs. Organizations in our survey report higher employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and communication. They are also seeing higher profitability and decreased costs.
CHROs have had a unique view into how enterprise platforms can help solve human needs. Despite the extraordinary human toll of the past year, CHROs have seen marked improvement across employee satisfaction and communication. As enterprise platforms have helped organizations maintain financial stability throughout the pandemic, employee satisfaction has remained stable.
In the post-pandemic world, C-levels expect to see additional financial returns from digital enterprise platforms. Over the next one to two years, CHROs anticipate gains in strategic and performance-related areas. These include global expansion, scalability, shareholder value, cross-enterprise visibility, and revenue.
CHROs see unique challenges
Unless C-level leaders integrate core business functions such as manufacturing and production, R&D, risk management, sales, and marketing into their digital platforms, they limit the level of agility they can achieve. Alarmingly, less than 20% of organizations have “fully or largely” integrated core functions into a digital platform.
Over the next year or two, C-level leaders will make integration a priority. In fact, 35% say they plan to create enterprise platforms that integrate multiple functions, which is almost double the number of organizations that have already done so. More than 80% will integrate technology and data, while at least 40% will integrate experiences, finance, marketing, and human resources.
CHROs have had a unique view into how enterprise platforms can help solve human needs.
CHROs have already seen important progress in integrating key workflows. They have also seen unique challenges.
More than other executives, CHROs are concerned about poor data quality. On average, just 41% of C-level leaders are concerned about poor data, while 63% of CHROs cite data as a top concern. CHROs also worry their organization lacks the skills and talent to stay agile.
CHROs and their peers do share two key concerns: a lack of clear leadership vision, and the gap between customer and employee expectations and the business’s capabilities and priorities. If unresolved, these obstacles may constrain business agility in the years ahead.