We surveyed 10,000 senior business and IT decision-makers in enterprises across France, Germany, Israel, Spain, and the UK. Our goal was to understand how they managed to keep reinventing their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic without a roadmap for what was happening – and to get insights into how they expect their organisations to keep growing in a post-pandemic world.

Here’s what we found out:

A new breed of enterprise has emerged

The pandemic laid bare the limitations of conventional business planning – carefully orchestrated annual roadmaps built under the illusion of control and the past predicting the future were exposed as not fit for purpose.

Many enterprises admitted that the need to transform quickly during the pandemic was a challenge; 46 per cent of decision makers reported that their organisation struggled to adapt over the past year. Added to this, 46 per cent cited ongoing pressures from new entrants taking market share. Enterprises had to rip up their roadmaps and adapt quickly, innovate, create and do more, faster, without increasing costs.

Despite this difficult and testing time, we witnessed the beginning of a new breed of enterprise. These businesses have innovation baked into their strategy and are using technologies like the cloud to move quickly, experiment with and accelerate new business models, and win back market share. They are more agile, secure, resilient, and customer-centric in their approach, and more confident about their ability to respond to and navigate changing circumstances.

Two thirds (65 per cent) say that their organisations have emerged from the pandemic more agile, more adaptable, and confident about the future. These leaders told us that the cloud helped them to pivot and innovate (65 per cent), scale to meet changes in demand (63 per cent) and even reduce costs (60 per cent).

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) told us that their organisations used new cloud services during the pandemic. 40 per cent even used cloud for the first time.

Remarkably, digital transformation initiatives were brought forward by almost two and a half years.

Underlining their sense of confidence and optimism, they have a positive outlook for the year ahead: 89 per cent expect their businesses to grow in the next year, on average predicting a rise in revenues of 21 per cent.

Enterprise leaders have taken several learnings from the pandemic – such as the importance of more agile working practices (58 per cent), better collaboration to solve problems (56 per cent), and getting closer to customers (55 per cent). They are now actively using digital transformation initiatives to improve productivity and collaboration, enhance customer experience and help upskill employees.

Reinvention remains essential

Enterprises that have experimented during the COVID-19 pandemic are experiencing a reinvention dividend. These organisations are now more resilient and better placed to succeed in a new post-pandemic world. Among business decision makers, 69 per cent say they have a clear strategy to seize opportunities and 60 per cent agree they will need to adjust their business model again once lockdown lifts.

Cloud services sit firmly at the heart of the future of business and continued reinvention. According to our research, 64 per cent of enterprises intend to adopt technologies like cloud computing post-pandemic and 54 per cent of decision makers say their business depends on cloud.

There are warning signs for some businesses when it comes to sustained agility and transformation. There are still internal challenges that enterprises must address: 50 per cent of business decision makers say their organisations still lack an understanding of how to link business problems to technical solutions, 47 per cent say employees are resistant to change, and 42 per cent say a lack of skills will hold them back.

Transformation will not remain a priority beyond the pandemic for all business leaders and only 50 per cent expect to continue transforming post COVID-19. These enterprises will face pressure on multiple fronts.

In many established enterprises, the pandemic has created a new spirit of reinvention, which has accelerated transformation by years, while new entrants – disruptors – were quicker to adopt cloud technologies and have seized the opportunity to take market share.

Coupled with more demanding customers, those enterprises unable to embrace a more agile mindset or overcome internal hurdles will fall through the cracks of a market dominated by this new breed of enterprise and new entrants with the power of speed on their side.

The Reinventing Without a Roadmap research report launched today during AWS Summit Online, a free, two-day event bringing together business leaders and technologists to connect, collaborate and learn. To view the research and discover insights from business decision makers, simply register for free today.

Find out more about AWS Summit Online, June 9-10.