Only half of firms plan to continue WFH after quarantine

Published July 16, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

While majority of companies have work from home (WFH) programs, only a little over 50 percent of them have plans of continuing this practice once the quarantine is lifted.

A Digital Transformation Survey conducted by CEO of P&A Grant Thornton highlighted the survey results during a webinar hosted by the professional services firm on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Transformation Agendas” with guest speakers from global artificial intelligence and intelligent automation company AntWorks and digital transformation enabler Microsoft.

Herbert Bactong, the Director for P&A Grant Thornton’s digital transformation services, said 80 percent of its respondents have work-from-home programs, and 66 percent started work-from-home arrangements during the quarantine. However, only 54 percent of these companies plan to continue the practice once the quarantine is lifted.

Batong also noted that small and medium enterprises have a higher percentage of ongoing or completed digital transformation projects than large companies do.

“This may be due to the flexibility that they can afford and the less complex project requirements of smaller organizations,” said Bactong.

Also, Bactong reported that the top three ongoing or completed digital transformation projects of those surveyed are process automation and digitization, workforce mobility, and digital marketing.   

“We agree that this should be prioritized to help lessen the effects of the disruption brought about by the pandemic,” he said. However, companies are also interested in data analytics and e-commerce implementation.

Notably, Bactong also shared the five significant challenges of survey respondents in digital transformation: security issues, lack of budget, lack of project management tools, lack of skills, and lack of formal strategy.

“The past three and a half months have compelled our organizations to go digital in many ways… Changes to our work practices during this pandemic, however, are the just of the tip of the iceberg that is digital transformation. [Digital transformation] is a foundational change in how an organization delivers value to its customers,” said Ma. Victoria Españo, Chairperson and CEO of P&A Grant Thornton, in her opening remarks.

Hugo Walkinshaw, Chief Partnership Officer of AntWorks, then talked on practical resiliency tools, such as digitization and automation. “We are moving away from the traditional multiyear, multimillion-dollar, large-scale systems driven by enterprise resource planning and moving more into agile, nimble, cloud-based technology,” said Walkinshaw.

Yvette Watson, Modern Work & Security Business Lead of Microsoft Philippines, talked about secure remote work and enabling a secure remote setup using the tech giant’s offerings. “Technology is all good, but there has to be a business case. There has to be a justification of the cost,” said Watson.

After focusing on practical tools, Bactong then talked on best practices. “Digital transformation is not just change; it involves three processes: digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation,” he said.

He then explained the drivers behind such a transformation, like social trends, customer expectations, customer experience, artificial intelligence, and cloud services.

 Bactong also added that to transform, one needs a strategy. “Unfortunately, many businesses approach digital transformation with a fast and furious nature. They react to obstacles and gravitate towards the newest and shiniest trends, and that’s just survival mode. Roadmaps help identify and communicate with stakeholders your digital strategy. It also helps reduce project risk and increases return on investment,” Bactong said.

“There is one clear message in this webinar: digital transformation is no longer an option. It is a must,” said Third Librea, Advisory Services Head of P&A Grant Thornton, in his closing remarks. “As mentioned by Herbert and our panelists today, digital transformation is the process of creating new or modifying existing company processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements,” said Librea. “Being able to understand the potential that such a transformation provides and then create a plan, a roadmap, to execute and deliver those benefits should be at the heart of any ambitious company’s strategy,” he added.

“With the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the ongoing health crisis, the call for digital transformation within businesses across industries has been amplified. That sentiment rings true, as seen in our Digital Transformation Survey results,” said Librea.