Business As Usual Is Never Coming Back. It’s Time To Digitize—Or Dwindle

Posted February 25, 2021 by Mark Perna

Digitizing companies will lead the way in job creation, and soon in everything else. Mark’s article, “Business As Usual Is Never Coming Back. It’s Time To Digitize—Or Dwindle,” published at on February 12, 2021.

When the pandemic first struck the U.S., survival was our first instinct. The idea was to hunker down, sit tight, live to fight another day. Given the newness of the virus and a future full of unknowns, this strategy made sense at the time. But it doesn’t anymore.

It’s time for businesses to digitize—or dwindle.

A recent ManpowerGroup study gathered perspectives from 26,000+ employers in more than 40 countries. The Skills Revolution Reboot 2021 found that, as a result of the pandemic, 38% of companies are accelerating their digitization and automation. According to the report, more jobs are being created than eliminated, with 86% of employers that are automating planning to increase or maintain their headcount.

Interestingly, almost half (45%) said that the pandemic has had no impact on their plans to digitize and automate.

The remaining 17% have slowed or stopped their automation plans altogether in the wake of the pandemic. Of these companies, just 11% are adding to their workforce. It’s a wait-and-see approach—but how much longer are they going to wait?

It’s time for businesses to digitize—or dwindle. Click To Tweet

It’s clear that the digitizing companies will lead the way in job creation—and soon, in everything else.

Industries hit hardest are split on digitizing

The industries that were initially hit hardest by the shutdowns are almost evenly split regarding their plans to accelerate or decelerate their automation plans.

  • In retail, 19% of employers are speeding up their automation/digitization plans, while 18% have put them on hold.
  • In construction, 17% of employers are accelerating automation while 18% are decelerating.
  • In manufacturing, 21% of employers are automating faster, while 19% are holding off.
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In finance, insurance and real estate, the digitization divide is less equal, with 21% accelerating digitization plans and only 11% are putting those plans on hold. These sectors, which have traditionally been slow to embrace digitization, are making up for lost time.

No finish line in sight

Since March of last year, individuals and businesses alike have been in a marathon, racing toward a day when things would go back to normal and we could all pick up where we left off. But as the months have passed and we’ve adapted our personal and professional lives to the sweeping changes of the pandemic, we’re coming to grips with an uncomfortable fact: There is no finish line in sight where we will be finished with Covid-19.

The creation of an effective vaccine was never the finish line, the moment when businesses could stop running, catch their breath and trot back to business as usual. Even when the vaccine is fully distributed, when masks are no longer mandatory and large gatherings are safe again, the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt long into the future.

We’re coming to grips with an uncomfortable fact: There is no finish line in sight where we will be finished with Covid-19. Click To Tweet

Organizations that are leaning into the digitization and virtual nature of this new normal are positioning themselves for greater flexibility and success in a world that will likely never go back to where it was. Those companies that are not investing in pivoting, that are still holding out hope that the world will revert to their comfort zone, will be left further behind.

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This is the time to pivot, digitize and adapt to a world that will likely be pandemic oriented for the foreseeable future—perhaps even for the next five to ten years. Organizations must recognize the long-term impact of this world event. Those who do will put themselves in a position to lead, while those who don’t will dwindle. The future of work is digital.

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About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is an international speaker and bestselling author. He also serves as CEO of TFS Results, a strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development.
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