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  • Tech proficient businesses are 64% more likely to predict growth in 2021 than those held back by their tech (82% vs. 50%)
  • Growth plans for tech proficient businesses more ambitious, as 36% launch new services, while 44% look to recruit
  • Advantage lies with larger companies - more likely to have advanced tech capabilities and to anticipate growth


New international research commissioned by ThoughtWorks reveals that, against the backdrop of businesses recovering from the most seismic challenges in living memory, the most tech-proficient enterprises are the ones anticipating growth in the coming months.

The 12-country study surveyed a representative sample of 969 CEOs, CTOs and CIOs about their level of proficiency when it came to business technology, and its bearing on business confidence and long-term goals.

The research suggested that digitally proficient businesses were significantly more likely to be growing. Four in five (82%) of businesses that described themselves as fully proficient said they anticipated growth in 2021. This fell to 50% among enterprises that recognized their tech proficiency was behind the competition.

Tech-savvy businesses have greater appetite for risk

Asking about the priorities for the coming year, the results suggested that the most proficient businesses were also the most likely to be expanding their enterprises in the next six months. In comparison to less proficient businesses, they were significantly more likely to be launching new service lines (36% vs. 25%), investing in attracting the best talent (46% vs. 34%) and launching into new markets (36% vs. 30%).

Underpinning these growth initiatives, tech proficient businesses were also most likely to place importance on improving operational efficiency (51%), enhance profitability (46%) and to actively invest in developing their leadership team’s technology know-how and proficiency (40%).

Larger businesses leverage their scale advantage

The ThoughtWorks research also found that larger companies had a distinct advantage over their smaller counterparts when it came to harnessing the full potential of new technologies. Overall, 71% of larger businesses (1,000+ employees) described themselves as advanced in their tech proficiency, compared with 54% of smaller enterprises (fewer than 250 employees). They were also more likely to anticipate growth in the coming months (71% vs. 65%).

In terms of priorities for the year ahead, larger businesses could identify twice as many areas where they could further improve their use of technology in the next 12-months as smaller businesses. These included improving operational efficiencies (53% vs. 35% of smaller businesses), increasing profitability (48% vs. 38%), and growing market share (47% vs. 39%).

Technology issues preventing expansion

The report found that a high proportion of businesses overall knew their existing systems were in need of urgent modernization to achieve many of their goals for the coming year. Two in five (42%) businesses surveyed would not be able to launch into new markets, or launch new service lines (39%), without a considerable tech upgrade.

Meanwhile, for day-to-day operational activities, over a third (36%) said their systems were not fit for purpose for operational activities, to grow their customer base, or to train members of staff.

Notes to editors

The research surveyed over 969 C-Suite decision makers, comprising of CEOs, CIOs and CTOs across 12 countries, all markets where ThoughtWorks has a significant market presence and can provide market commentary (USA, UK, Germany, China, Australia, India, Brazil, Singapore, Italy, Romania, Finland and Netherlands) and across seven sectors. The research was carried out online by Maru/Blue in February 2021. 

 1 Defined as making full use of new technology across operational and customer processes to win business, run efficient systems and attract the best people. Overall, 63% described themselves as fully tech-proficient. One in three respondents said their organization’s use of technology was improving but behind the competition – and four per cent said outright that tech capabilities held their business back.


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