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Almost half of Hong Kong organisations (49%) have slowed their digital transformation plans as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and only 16% have accelerated their plans, according to Workday's latest research. 

Owing to a lack of digital agility, almost nine in ten (89%) have struggled to make changes to their financial plans for the year, with 67% unable to realign their organisational structures.

In terms of people and processes, 84% of organisations have been unable to track their people’s skill sets to form special taskforces in response to the pandemic, and almost half (49%) were not able to manage new business processes.

A shortfall of digital skills has proven to be a significant barrier for organisations in faring better with digital agility amid COVID-19. Almost three-quarters (74%) of Hong Kong organisations lack an enterprise-wide culture of agility. A total of 79% of organisations say that less than half of their people are equipped with digital skills and capabilities. A tenth (11%) say that they have almost no employees with digital experience or skills.

The lack of digital expertise may be due to a prevailing mindset within Hong Kong organisations of not viewing talent as a source of competitive advantage and therefore not investing in finding and nurturing it. A total of 77% of Hong Kong organisations do not see talent as an important strategic asset and lack the proper tools and processes to manage it.

This mindset also has a spill-over effect for organisations’ employee experiences. Just 14% see the employee experience as an essential consideration in their decision-making.

While 91% of organisations have used digital technologies to execute their business continuity plans during COVID-19 and more digitally agile organisations have fared better, a staggering 40% of those surveyed do not see digital transformation as a business priority.

The most important areas of focus for Hong Kong organisations in their digital transformation plans for the next 12 to 18 months are all front-end. These include front-end revenue generating systems (47%), front-end systems for customer touchpoints (46%), and front-end customer service systems (37%). Back-end systems in finance (30%), administration (28%) and HR (19%) were viewed as lesser priorities.

“Recent events have brought into focus the importance for businesses to be digitally agile. Without the right technological backbone, organisations can no longer move quickly to adapt to rapid change," said Rob Wells, president for Workday Asia.  

"Most companies this year have had to make significant changes to their financial and human resourcing plans, at quick notice, and our research shows offline processes have hampered this. I hope more leaders (will) think seriously about how they approach digital transformation and invest for the sake of the long-term health of their organisations and workforces,” he added.