One year on: Technology transformation helps businesses run better than ever

2degrees’ Shaping Business Study returns, showing Covid is no match for resilient and adaptable Kiwi businesses

  • More than a third (39%) of employing businesses say they could operate better in the face of another lockdown than they could at the start of the March 2020 lockdown
  • Two in five businesses were surprised at how quickly they could adapt to focus more online, with nearly half (47%) of sole traders and 20% of employing businesses switching their business focus to online in under a month
  • Over half (52%) say their business relationships haven’t suffered due to less face-to-face interaction, but highlight broadband as the most important tool for operating their business and staying connected (84%)

25 March 2021 – 2degrees’ Shaping Business Study returns for its second year, revealing the important role that technology and digitisation has played in keeping Kiwi businesses moving in the one year since the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

The 2degrees Shaping Business Study, which surveyed more than 1,000 businesses, found that in spite of the immense pressures faced at the time, business leaders have seen silver linings from leveraging technology. 

A stronger propensity for adaptability and resilience, a growing focus in online capability, improvements to workplace culture and enhanced digital skills are just some of the ways that technology has helped New Zealand businesses keep pace over the rollercoaster 12 months, since March 2020.

Findings show that 39% of employing business decision makers believe their business could run better in the face of another lockdown than it did in the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, which forced many businesses to quickly accelerate their digitisation plans in order to remain connected and increase the mobility of their workforce. 

This focus on digital acceleration included businesses updating digital offerings to meet changing client/customer needs with 48% of employing business decision makers and 41% of sole traders stating this respectively. Employing business decision makers also strongly focussed on offering training for their employees to remain current in the new environment (40%).

Strong and reliable broadband (84%) was identified as the most important tool for employing businesses to remain connected, who also ranked virtual communication tools such as Teams and Zoom as the most critical to drive mobility and meet the changing needs of their consumers. A further 31% said they now opt for virtual meetings to improve operational efficiency and productivity.

Andrew Fairgray, Chief Business Officer at 2degrees, says that technology is central to these positive findings.

“Kiwi businesses recognised that it was crucial that they remain connected to their employees, clients and customers across an unprecedented and challenging year. New Zealand businesses have demonstrated great resilience during Covid-19, and we can clearly see how they have leveraged technology to support digital transformation,” says Andrew.

While it’s clear the true benefits of technology to enhance mobility and business transformation were intensified during lockdown, business decision makers said that further investments would need to ensure specific outcomes to encourage them to invest in more technology solutions, including saving time (39%) and making more money (37%).

“The impact of Covid-19 on businesses’ cash flow and forecasts has meant many have had to invest in new technology to support new ways of working without any certainty that their business can continue.” says Andrew. “That so many businesses did make this investment decision is a testament to opportunities technology enables and I’m confident that Kiwi businesses embracing a more digital model will create a sustained advantage for NZ Inc.”

When reflecting on lockdown in March 2020, employing Kiwi decision makers most valued the adaptability and resilience (25%) of their business, followed by their co-workers (25%).

The 2degrees Shaping Business Study also found that 53% of employing business decision makers reported that Covid-19 actually had a positive impact on workplace culture, with 60% saying that the lockdowns have helped them to see a more human-side to their employees.

“The investment that we have seen will mean the changes are here to stay, with continued refinement around how the employer and employees interact to drive the best outcomes and culture for the business,” says Andrew.