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A pandemic digital silver lining: Companies digitized many activities 20 to 25 times faster during COVID-19

We asked executives how long they expected it would have taken their companies prepandemic to digitize 12 different activities and how long it actually took them once the coronavirus hit. When it came to remote working, companies moved 43 times more quickly than executives thought possible.

Executives say their companies responded to a range of COVID-19-related changes much more quickly than they thought possible before the crisis.

Chart: Executives say their companies responded to a range of COVID-19–related changes much more quickly than they thought possible before the crisis.

Time required to respond to or implement changes,1 expected vs actual, number of days
Change Expected Actual Acceleration factor, multiple Type of change
Increase in remote working and/or collaboration 454 10.5 43 Organizational
Increasing customer demand for online purchasing/services 585 21.9 27 Industry-wide
Increasing use of advanced technologies in operations 672 26.5 25 Organizational
Increasing use of advanced technologies in business decision making 635 25.4 25 Organizational
Changing customer needs/expectations2 511 21.3 24 Industry-wide
Increasing migration of assets to the cloud 547 23.2 24 Organizational
Changing ownership of last-mile delivery 573 24.4 23 Industry-wide
Increase in nearshoring and/or insourcing practices 547 26.6 21 Organizational
Increased spending on data security 449 23.6 19 Organizational
Build redundancies into supply chain 537 29.6 18 Organizational

Notes

1Respondents who answered "Entry of new competitors in company's market/value chain" or "exit of major competitors from company's market/value chain" are not shown; compared with the other 10 changes, respondents are much more likely to say their companies have not been able to respond.

2For instance, increased focus on health/hygiene.

McKinsey & Company

To read the article, see “How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever,” October 5, 2020.