The unprecedented lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on business. As companies in Asia Pacific look to come out of this difficult period, they must make some hard choices.

Forrester surveyed Business and Technology decision-makers in Asia Pacific in January and again in May to understand how their business and tech priorities have shifted due to the crisis. Companies generally find themselves in one of three modes: survival, adaptive, and growth. Once leaders understand their mode, they need to clarify their top-level goals and take specific actions to create the right tech budget both for their current situation and as their business conditions change in the future.

Here are some key findings:

  • While 26% of respondents are at firms in survival mode, 16% are in growth mode.  Unsurprisingly, May’s data showed that 51% of respondents at firms in Asia Pacific expect their future tech spend to decrease; this is in stark contrast to the 53% that expected to increase it by more than 5% before the crisis.
  • Business agility is a top business priority across modes. Again, unsurprisingly, respondents at companies in survival mode put growing revenues and cutting costs as their top two business priorities for the next 12 months. While those in adaptive mode also see cutting costs as a high priority, respondents at firms in growth mode put improving their ability to innovate and accelerating their shift to digital business in their top five business priorities. Interestingly, accelerating their response to business and market changes is one of the top five priorities regardless of the company’s mode.
  • Large IoT, big data, and martech projects could be delayed or cancelled. We know that COVID-19 has had a direct and positive impact on cloud infrastructure and platforms, IT security and risk, and mobility spend. What the May survey also shows is that companies in survival or adaptive mode are likely to cancel or delay some of the tech purchases that they had planned before the crisis. This is particularly true for IoT, big data, business intelligence and analytics, and martech software purchases.
  • Work from home is the new normal. About half of respondents said they couldn’t wait to get back to work, while 44% said they were afraid to go back. In the May survey, 48% of all respondents in Asia Pacific indicated that their firm would permanently maintain a higher rate of full-time remote employees; this increased to 68% of respondents at companies in growth mode.

Today’s highly volatile and uncertain environment makes it clear to business and tech leaders that enterprise adaptiveness is the only sustainable way forward.