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Digital transformation increasing business complexities

By Shannon Williams
Wed 25 May 2022

A new global study from Pegasystemson the state of business complexity found that nearly three out of four A/NZ employees (71%) feel their job complexity continues to rise as customer demands increase. 

At the same time, employees at all levels report feeling overloaded with information, systems, and processes, making it difficult for them to adapt to these new challenges and meet their customers growing needs.

As the pandemic bore down, most businesses rushed to deploy digital transformation projects to help address this new reality. But the survey findings from 500 employees across Australia and New Zealand suggest these initiatives either didn't go far enough or were implemented in silos without a unified vision. 

In fact, 47% of respondents think that digital transformation may have even increased their job complexity a surprising perception that should cause some organisations to re-examine their digital approach.

But before they can redefine a new strategy to reduce business complexity, organisations must first understand the key drivers that are rapidly increasing it. Survey respondents identified a mix of organisational, technological, and societal factors that are adding complexity to their jobs, the top of which include:

  • Managing information overload, reported by 93% of respondents
  • Keeping pace with rapid change (92%)
  • Navigating internal processes and bureaucracy, and managing projects, teams, and people (89%)
  • Collaborating across teams (86%)

How can businesses better address these complexity drivers? According to survey respondents, they should start by breaking down technological silos. The presence of too many/different systems was the top technology issue driving complexity in their organisation, selected by 50% of respondents. When asked what businesses can do to make their technology experience less complex, their top remedy was to deploy systems that more easily integrate with other technologies and make them easier to use (selected by 41% of respondents). This suggests that businesses need to take a more unified approach to digital transformation as opposed to piecemeal projects implemented in isolation.

The survey also highlighted how the pandemic specifically contributed to the acceleration of business complexity in a number of ways:

  • Overall, most employees (64%) feel the pandemic will make business more complex in the long run.
  • One in three employees (35%) think hybrid work arrangements make business more complex. When asked why, 42% said meetings had become more frequent but less productive.
  • One in three employees (35%) think the pandemic makes it more difficult to find the right people to hire, while 67% say their company cannot attract talent with the necessary tech skills to do the jobs properly.

With the pandemic triggering rapid change, many employees want their organisation to adapt even faster: two-in-five reported their organisation moves too slowly to react to change. But despite its own complexity, technology still remains the key to streamlining their job functions, as 99% agree that technology is vital to getting their jobs done right.

"With business complexity on the rise, organisational leaders need to rethink their digital transformation strategies," says Tom Libretto, chief marketing officer, Pega.

"Too many businesses applied quicks fixes in the early days of the pandemic that were siloed in nature and simply didn't go far enough," he says.

"Now its time to take a step back and implement a smarter, holistic, and unified approach one that simplifies and streamlines workflows so employees can thrive and customers succeed. 

"Our new survey helps businesses understand why they continue to suffer with complexity so they have the insights to reset their digital transformation agenda and better cope with change no matter where it comes from next."

The global survey was conducted by research firm Savanta during January and February 2022 to understand the evolving nature of business complexity. 

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