Research Digested: The 2020 State of Digital Transformation: Benchmarking Digital Maturity in the COVID-19 Era

Report cover for The 2020 State of Digital Transformation: Benchmarking Digital Maturity in the COVID-19 Era


A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals.

Why read this report

For several years now, the Prophet organisation Altimeter has been producing an annual report, looking at the state of global digital transformation. This year’s report focuses on how organisations are pursuing digital transformation. It also looks at the impact of Covid-19 on digital transformation. The report measures the digital maturity of organisations, taking into account their industry, geography and size.

About this research

This is an annual report, with this year’s fieldwork concluding in April. Altimeter surveyed 628 professionals from organisations with at least 1000 employees, across four geographies: Europe, North America, China and Southeast Asia.

Altimeter benchmarks its survey participants against five areas that it says define customer-focused digital transformation. They are leadership and culture, customer experience, marketing and sales, technology and innovation, and data and artificial intelligence.

Standout stats

Unlike last year, when the top driver for digital transformation was growth opportunities in new markets, this year it’s a focus on operations that is the top driver, and it’s all because of Covid-19. A little over a quarter (29%) even said that responding to Covid was their top driver. Retail and finance were most likely to say the pandemic was their top challenge (47% and 45% respectively).

There are four key takeaways from the first part of the report. They are that:

  • Operations support, agility and revenue are top priorities given Covid-19. The lead use cases are working from home (82%), digital marketing (78% investing to improve), digital selling (76% trying to close capability gaps), virtual product/service delivery (52%) and growth initiatives (37%)
  • Digitally mature companies are more focused on responding to Covid and taking advantage of the crisis. They are maintaining their strategic focus, pushing ahead with digitally-driven innovation and a new wave of technologies
  • Less digitally mature companies are working on implementing digital basics
  • Leadership from CEOs and CIO/CTOs (backed up by CDOs, innovation officers and boards) ensures organisations both chart and follow their digital transformation ambitions.

Final word

Although Covid-19 prompted and accelerated digital transformation, it also has been a barrier to progress. In fact, 43% of respondents said the biggest challenge they faced in their digital transformation efforts has been Covid-19, partly because it took the focus away from digital transformation and partly because of cuts to budgets.

The second biggest obstacle to digital transformation is lack of budget, cited by 27%, followed by addressing and overcoming existing processes, legacy infrastructure or status-quo mindsets.

Report reading time: 20 minutes

Media: PDF