Unsung heroes: Underappreciation felt by 87% of IT leaders

Adyen (ADYEN:AMS), the global financial technology platform of choice for leading businesses, has released new research revealing that digital transformation projects are underappreciated by retail and hospitality businesses.

The poll of IT leaders working in the sector found that three quarters (74%) of those surveyed said their teams are the ‘un-sung’ heroes of their company’s workforce. 70% said that investing in or accelerating their business’ digital transformation left their companies in a better position following the pandemic.

The importance of the IT team to retailers is highlighted by economic analysis conducted by the Centre for Economic and Business Research for Adyen. The study found that accelerating digital transformation could add 4 percentage points to the UK retail sector’s growth rate over the next five years.

The research, conducted by Censuswide for Adyen, found that 83% of IT leaders across retail and hospitality believed that implementing new technology is key to their company’s strategy of winning customers and market share. 80% suggested that tech investment will be important to win customers in the current cost-of-living crisis. A similar amount (70%) said their business was more reliant on data and analytics to win customers in today’s economic environment.

Adyen is launching the research as part of its Unsung Heroes campaign, promoting the role of IT teams who are often working behind the scenes to improve company performance. As a key sponsor of the Tour of Britain cycling race, Adyen and a team of its customers including Brompton Bikes, Preston Music and Tory Burch will be completing the final 50k of The Tour of Britain to raise funds for social enterprise, Change Please.

Chris Matthews, Global DTC Channel Director at Brompton Bikes said: “In our business IT drives sales, we have the digital structures and IT architecture in place to set ourselves up for growth. In 2020 we announced that we’d taken ownership of sales and distribution – which meant onboarding a new ecommerce partner and transforming the way our customers could use our site.

“For us this happened just before the first international lockdowns took place, and when sales of bikes rocketed. Transforming our payments with Adyen meant we were set up to accept payments the way our customers wanted, and no matter where they were based.

“We use Adyen globally, and for a business like ours it makes all the difference for foreign transactions to be processed, chargebacks managed and fraud regulation rules handled by one provider. We’re lucky to have the support from the business when it comes to digital transformation – but we certainly take an always-on approach as there are always improvements to be made! IT capabilities will fuel the next chapter of growth in North America and Asia.”

A lack of knowledge on far-reaching benefits of digital transformation

The majority of IT leaders (87%) believe transformation projects are under-appreciated within their business. Of those who believe this, more than half suggest colleagues don’t realise the impact digital transformation has across the entire business (52%).

Meanwhile, funding for projects remains a significant challenge. Two in five (41%) say digital transformation doesn’t receive the budget it really needs. More than a third (38%) say success goes unnoticed by senior executives and 37% believe that no one really knows what’s involved or the amount of work required.

Over half of all respondents (54%) said the c-suite doesn’t fully understand the potential of technology or digital transformation to help increase revenue, and 55% said there’s tension between their team and the CEO and CFO for more funding.

“We know consumers have high expectations of a business’s digital capabilities, especially when they saw what could be achieved during national lockdowns. Shoppers are now back in-store and demanding customer experiences that can only be delivered with modern tech infrastructures”, said Colin Neil, Managing Director of Adyen UK. “It will be important for organisations to continually assess their digital abilities in the face of economic challenges, and for the IT teams to feel supported by the company as they roll out new platforms and technologies to ensure ongoing success.

Majority of businesses investing to cushion cost-of-living impact

Most (58%) IT leaders said the cost-of-living crisis hadn’t impacted their company’s plans to invest in digital technologies. Nearly one in five (17%) said that was because capabilities would help them to navigate current challenges, but almost one third (30%) said it was because new capabilities could help them to prepare for future crises, such as pandemics.

However, a significant portion of IT leaders (40%) said the cost-of-living crisis had meant digital investment plans had been shelved.

“Without doubt this is one of the most challenging periods retailers and hospitality businesses have been faced with, as price rises and energy costs make operations incredibly difficult”, adds Neil. “It’s encouraging to see many IT leaders continue their digital transformation journeys, with many pointing out that new capabilities will help their businesses to navigate the cost-of-living crisis. Investment will be important for future-proofing too, helping businesses to keep up with expectations and gain more insights into consumer behaviour.”


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