COVID-19 has had an unprecedented tripartite impact in modern times on health, society and the economy. The scale and depth of the pandemic has resulted in an unparalleled degree of Government engagement and assistance across countries to furlough employees, assist businesses and individuals with loans, grants, and enforce restrictions on travel, social engagement and workforce activities.
The pandemic has also revealed the weaknesses inherent in many businesses, as they strive to address the crisis with this influenced by the firm-type, including three observed categories of Thriver, Hider or Survivor firms, based on initial research and analysis to define these firm-types in2009. Continued research since this period before and during the pandemic highlights the presence of key digitalisation requirements and blockers in both small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and larger enterprises in major EU countries, including France, Germany, the UK and others. Many blockers are based on managerial perceptions that can be overcome through the use of cost-effective, agile, digital solutions that are available today and can unlock hidden opportunities in both large and small organisations.
This report consolidates and extends research commenced in 2007 that is ongoing at the junction of digitalisation, innovation and productivity in both B2B and B2C. The research continues to reinforce the applicability of the three firm-types and in particular, how each addresses crisis including the pandemic in an increasingly digitally native milieu. The research represents both primary and secondary activities encompassing data from multiple modes: the world’s largest ongoing project with SMEs to assess management practices and operations initiated at the LSE and continuing in a collaborative project with 20,000 interviews in 35 countries undertaken; LSE research projects on cloud and digitalisation; engagement with global and niche digital and technology consultancies in the EU encompassing results from firms across sectors, size and regions; ongoing deep engagement with enterprise managers in the Retail and Finance sectors in the EU; engagement with digital technology providers delivering pre- and post-pandemic B2B and B2C customer solutions; ongoing CxO engagement with large and small enterprises; deep multi-sector engagement including advisory and operational research in Banking, Finance, Retail, Technology, and secondary research.
The results provide insight on how digitalisation has evolved over the past decade and how many requirements and blockers have harmonised between sectors, firm-types and B2B and B2C as firms align to a new post-pandemic equilibrium. In many cases, COVID-19 has accelerated existing digitalisation while in others it has initiated transformation, underpinned by datadriven, agile, secure, scalable digital solutions that can enhance both customer and supplier experience.
The research continues to confirm the relevance of good management practices aligned with technology use in enhancing productivity and competitiveness both before and in the pandemic, in addition to highlighting a number of other observations.