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NZ businesses to continue digital investment in wake of COVID-19

A large majority of New Zealand businesses who have embraced digital transformation during the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to invest in digital transformation after a return to normal, according to new research from GetApp.

The research found New Zealand-based businesses embrace a hybrid form of working, giving employees the flexibility to work remotely as they need. Sixty four percent of Kiwi SMEs state that all or most of their business is now virtual compared to only 2% who were already entirely virtual pre-pandemic.

Many experts predicted significant growth in worldwide IT spending to help businesses counter the negative impacts on businesses from Covid-19. However, the research conducted shows that while vaccines are close to being administered in New Zealand within the coming months, many companies will continue to invest in digital solutions to be competitive moving forward. 

This investment is likely due to the significant increase in website traffic reported by businesses, with 74% of companies saying that half or more of this new traffic is from regions or countries where they had not previously operated.

“While the pandemic has caused hardship and financial strain for many businesses, it’s positive to see how many businesses in New Zealand have turned to technology to empower their workers and open up new doors," says Sonia Navarrete, content analyst at GetApp. 

“While the transformations won’t happen overnight, and there are still challenges we face, it is incredibly positive to see Kiwi businesses, in particular, understand the importance of investing in digital transformation for the future.”

The new GetApp research collected data in December 2020 from an online survey of 608 respondents that live in New Zealand. Responses were only taken from individuals employed full-time as an owner, founder or other head of an organisation, c-suite executive, president or vice-president, director or manager. Respondents also had to be working for a company of up to 250 people during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The research revealed 73% of Kiwi businesses find software implementation as a significant challenge in going digital. The top challenges were upgrading and implementing new software (73%) and training employees to use it (72%).

Meanwhile, 27% of companies state they have been “very successful” engaging with their customers digitally, and 70% of businesses believe they need to keep up digital investments to compete.

"The research findings suggest that business leaders are convinced by the productivity gains achieved through collaboration and online meeting tools," Navarrete says.

"This will see further investment by companies wishing to stay ahead of their competitors even after the pandemic’s financial impact has subsided. 

Even with this increase in digital transformation, there are still fundamental challenges that businesses continue to face. To overcome these challenges, practical training and upskilling must take place across New Zealand."

Research shows, the top five areas where digital upskilling will be necessary will be in:

  • Website and app development
  • Project management
  • Social media marketing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Business intelligence/Data analytics

Navarrete adds, "By investing in digital transformation and upskilling employees, many New Zealand businesses will hope to achieve goals set in 2021 to help retain customers, cut costs and increase cash flow."