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Digital transformation that increases business complexity

by Helen J. Wolf
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A new global survey from Pegasystemson into the state of business complexity shows that nearly three in four A/NZ employees (71%) feel that the complexity of their work continues to increase as customer demands grow.

At the same time, employees at all levels report feeling overloaded with information, systems, and processes, making it difficult for them to adapt to these new challenges and meet the growing needs of their customers.

When the pandemic failed, most companies rushed to deploy digital transformation projects to address this new reality. But the survey results of 500 workers in Australia and New Zealand suggest that these initiatives either didn’t go far enough or were implemented in silos without a unified vision.

Digital transformation that increases business complexity

47% of respondents believe that digital transformation has increased their work’s complexity, a surprising perception that should prompt some organizations to re-examine their digital approach.

But before redefining a new strategy to reduce business complexity, organizations must first understand the key drivers that are rapidly increasing it. Survey respondents identified a mix of organizational, technological, and societal factors that complicate their jobs, including:

Controlling information overload, reported by 93% of respondents; Keeping up with rapid changes (92%); Navigating internal processes and bureaucracy, and managing projects, teams, and people (89%); Collaborating between groups (86%)

How can companies better address these complexity factors? According to survey respondents, they should start by breaking technology silos. The presence of too many/different systems was the main technological problem causing complexity in their organization, selected by 50% of respondents. When asked what companies can do to make their technology experience less complex, their best answer was to implement systems that integrate more easily with other technologies and make them more user-friendly (selected by 41% of respondents). This suggests that companies should take a more unified approach to digital transformation rather than fragmented projects run in isolation.

The study also highlighted how the pandemic has specifically contributed to the acceleration of business complexity in several ways:

Most workers (64%) believe the pandemic will make business more complex in the long run. One in three employees (35%) believes hybrid work arrangements complicate their business. When asked why, 42% said meetings had become more frequent but less productive. One in three employees (35%) thinks the pandemic is making it harder to find the right people to hire, while 67% say their company cannot attract talent with the technical skills to do the job well.

With the pandemic bringing rapid change, many employees want their organization to adapt even faster: two in five reported their organization is moving too slowly to respond to change. But despite its complexity, technology remains the key to streamlining their work functions, as 99% agree that technology is vital to doing their job well.

“As business complexity increases, organizational leaders need to rethink their digital transformation strategies,” said Tom Libretto, Pega’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“Too many companies in the early days of the pandemic adopted quick fixes that were naturally siled and didn’t go far enough,” he says.

“Now is the time to step back and implement a smarter, holistic, and unified approach that simplifies and streamlines workflows so employees can thrive and customers succeed.

“Our new research helps companies understand why they continue to suffer from complexity, so they have the insights to realign their digital transformation agenda and better deal with change, no matter where it comes from.”

The global survey was conducted by research firm Savanta in January and February 2022 to understand the evolving nature of business complexity.

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