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Unit4 2022 Business Future Index: Crisis Accelerates ‘Emergency Response’ IT Strategies but Major Adoption Still Needed

Unit4, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for mid-market services organizations, today announced the technology adoption findings of its second annual Business Future Index.

Having surveyed 3,450 respondents across 12 global markets to understand how much people, policy and technology changes have accelerated over the past 12 months, the Index showed technology tools have improved team collaboration, productivity, and well-being. However, it also revealed distinct areas of inconsistency, with less than 50% of respondents having undertaken a major adoption of next generation technologies, suggesting there is significant room for improvement.

Key Findings
  • Low instances of major adoption: While eight in ten global respondents say there has been some adoption of data management, real-time reporting tools, or migration to the cloud, across the board less than half have seen major adoption
    • Major adoption of data management tools: 45%
    • Major adoption of cloud migration: 44%
    • Major adoption of real-time reporting tools: 40%
    • Major adoption of workflow automation: 37%
    • Major adoption of AI/machine learning: 32%
  • Financial management has suffered: Globally, 87% of those who responded say they face challenges with the processes that underpin financial management, with over half (52%) saying they plan to invest more in technology
  • Outdated systems have inhibited forecasting: The majority of respondents have concerns about forecasting, but organizations in the public sector (37%) and education (39%) are more likely to say outdated systems are impacting their ability to forecast effectively
  • Role of technology cited as key to talent strategy: 37% say greater use of up-to-date technology is a key way they will be looking to talent acquisition and retention, while 17% say outdated technology is a challenge for attracting and retaining skilled people.

Accelerating IT adoption during pandemic

The Index shows that, in the past year, those who invested in technology such as workflow automation and real-time reporting have seen tangible benefits delivered to their organizations. These include enabling employees to be more collaborative, productive, and achieving a better work/life balance. This has been supported by the adoption of internal software and tools to aid productivity and employee experience, which saw the greatest acceleration in Denmark (58%) compared to the other markets, and the lowest in the UK (39%). There was also increased focus on cybersecurity strategies to protect employees and company data, which accelerated the most in Singapore, but saw much lower acceleration in the USA (27%), Germany (26%) and the UK (21%).

Performance of finance under scrutiny in a crisis

The performance of financial systems always receives greater scrutiny during a crisis, and this has been no different in the last year. While respondents said financial management processes lack the speed and agility required, as well as not providing access to real-time data and struggling with outdated systems, technology is seen as offering a way to improve performance. Over half (52%) plan to invest more in technology, while 48% will prioritize greater automation and skills training to improve financial management. Addressing the challenges with forecasting will require a mix of technology, people and process strategies. The top solutions to improve forecasting were cited as:

  • Better communication across teams: 53%
  • Better planning for different scenarios: 52%
  • Investment in forecasting technology: 51%
  • Improving access to real-time data: 47%
  • A consolidation of disparate datasets: 45%

Moving from emergency response to holistic IT strategies

“It should come as no surprise that finance and the associated systems came under close scrutiny during the last 12 months, as organizations sought to cope with the impacts of the pandemic,” said Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4. “It underlines the central role that the Office of the CFO plays during a crisis and why it is critical that finance systems have the agility and responsiveness necessary to react to uncertain economic and social conditions. Now, organizations need to move beyond the emergency response phase to more holistic IT strategies, which will require additional adoption of technology to improve processes and, ultimately, benefit all employees and customers.”

The findings in the Business Future Index 2022 suggest IT strategies during the pandemic have been very targeted, leading to the accelerated adoption of technology to deal with immediate challenges. The global economy is now entering unpredictable economic and geopolitical times, so organizations must learn from the successes of accelerated change to broaden out the benefits for processes and people. Now, they should shift from targeted approaches to more holistic IT strategies, and understand how cloud migration, data management and real-time reporting tools, workflow automation and AI/machine learning can be applied to deliver value.

Additional Resources
  • A copy of the full report is available on request
  • Accompanying infographics to the report are available to download here

Survey Methodology

Unit4 commissioned independent technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne to undertake the quantitative research that this report is based on. They interviewed a total of 3450 respondents in May and June 2022, from 12 regions: US (1000), Canada (150), UK (400), Germany (400), France (200), Netherlands (250), Norway (200), Denmark (100), Sweden (200), Belgium (150), Australia (200) and Singapore (200). Respondents were from all private and public sectors (including IT and technology; business and professional services; education; and charity and nonprofit), and from organizations with 200-20,000 employees. Respondents from all departments and seniority levels were allowed to participate. There are also references throughout to historical data conducted using the same methodology in 2021. The findings from this research programme can be found here.

About Unit4

Unit4’s next-generation enterprise solutions power many of the world’s most people-centric mid-market organizations. Our state-of-the-art cloud platform, ERPx, brings together the capabilities of Financials, Procurement, Project Management, HR and FP&A onto a unified cloud platform that shares real-time information and is designed with a powerful, people-centric approach, so employees can benefit from better insight and become more effective and increasingly engaged. It supports rapid and continuous change while delivering individualized fit for customers at scale, delivering the right tools to unify the processes across their organization, and connect their people. Unit4 serves more than 6,000 customers globally including, Bravida, Havas, Migros Aare, Americares, Save the Children International, Action against Hunger, Metro Vancouver, Forest Research, Southampton City Council, Selkirk College, FTI Consulting, and Surrey County Council.

For more information please visit https://www.unit4.com/

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