IDC Analyst Charts Road To New Normal In ‘Highly Volatile’ Times

Midsize companies have done better than their larger counterparts in adjusting to the unprecedented challenges brought on by a global pandemic, IDC’s Joe Pucciarelli tells attendees of XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience. Companies are turning to technology to ‘flatten their economic curve.’


The road businesses have been travelling to their next new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic is paved with surprises and contradictions, an IDC executive told attendees of XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience.

“We are in times that are just highly volatile,” said Joe Pucciarelli, group vice president and IT executive advisor at IDC. “We’re all seeing things that we never would have rationally expected, we’re dealing with a lot of surprises and we’re dealing with things that are counter-intuitive.”

IDC has been fielding a massive surge in inquiries and interactions with its clients, he said, as “there’s just a lot of questions on people’s minds.”

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To better answer those questions, the market intelligence firm has implemented a multi-stage framework to chart progress from crisis to recovery.

Organizations have reacted predictably to the first phase of the pandemic: crisis. That’s meant an initial focus on maintaining business continuity, Pucciarelli said.

Once business continuity issues are mostly handled, companies typically shift concern to their larger financial picture, with an emphasis to focus spending in a more-targeted way.

The next phase involves coping with a reduction in customer demand and revenue, “that lifeblood that keeps organizations moving,” Pucciarelli said.

After organizations add capabilities to respond to changing market conditions, and markets return to growth, they can reach the final plateau—the new normal.

“Frankly what we’re seeing is companies flatten their economic curve,” he said, “and flatten it by using technology to limit the amount of negative impact to their company.”

In the last week of May, IDC surveyed about 700 corporate leaders around the world to get a sense of how well companies were progressing through those four stages.

That study found that midsize companies, those with 500 to 1,000 employees, had fared better than their larger counterparts.

“Larger companies tend to be on a somewhat more-conservative footing,” Pucciarelli said, with many still reacting to the crisis and still struggling to return to the office.

But a midsize company is more likely to have recognized the situation, stabilized for it, and adjusted spending plans to achieve that elusive goal of a new normal.

In another study IDC conducted in partnerships with TrustRadius, which culls reviews in the B2B market, IDC found “contradictions and counterintuitive data,” Pucciarelli said.

While many companies thought they had done well in tackling certain challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, like the 74 percent who said they did a “great job” managing their communications, they also thought they could have done better, which 41 percent of the same respondents answered on the communications question.

The conclusion: “A lot of companies feel they did ok, but could have done better,” Pucciarelli said.

The overarching theme IDC hears when talking to business executives is “never again are we going to allow this to happen to our organizations,” Pucciarelli said.

There’s strong conviction and resolve in those executive voices to achieve what IDC characterizes as “resilience,” he told XChange attendees—the next normal means having a plan with a stronger focus on ensuring the organization has the capabilities to remain resilient, operational, and focused in the face of challenges.

Another survey completed in May asked executives about the technologies they believe will see increased adoption to meet those goals.

Videoconferencing led the way, followed by remote learning, security connectivity and virtual workspaces.

Overall, interest and investment is accelerating in cloud computing as organizations strive to remain functional and operational and scalable, he said.

For Employer Advantage, a human resources services firm based in Missouri, business resiliency was always in mind due to the company’s location in the tornado belt, Brad Schneider, director of IT, told Pucciarelli.

“Compared to other companies our size, we were in pretty good shape, we were ready,” Schneider said.

And yet, regardless of the amount of training he threw at his staff, nobody was really ready for the unprecedented disruption of a global pandemic.

Staff were surprised and feeling unsettled. “Everything new made even the smallest problem much harder.”

Network Services Company has been motivated by the pandemic to start looking at robotic process automation, as the company’s manual processes were challenged by the crisis, said the company’s CIO, Mary Wyderski.

The B2B distributor and supply chain management firm already uses Salesforce as a low-code platform to adjust workflows quickly and gain analytic insights. Now, it hopes more RPA can automate processes to help the company respond faster to challenges, Wyderski told Pucciarelli at the end of his virtual XChange presentation.

Schneider also sees the robotic process automation discussion taking on greater importance.

Employer Advantages doesn’t have a lot of developers on staff, so a low-code solution to integrate processes that currently “aren’t talking to each other really well is going to be the answer,” Schneider said.

[Editor’s Note: To attend the virtual event or view sessions on demand, visit the XChange+ registration page.]