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Workday Global Study: Organizations Forecast Spike in Digital Revenue as CEOs Champion Digital Initiatives

  • One-in-Three Executives Project 75% of Revenue to Come from Digital in Next Three Years;
  • Forecast Triples Since 2019 Study

Workday, Inc. a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, released initial findings of its global executive survey “Organizational Agility: Roadmap to Digital Acceleration” exploring the state of digital initiatives and organizational agility.

In a year that started with a global health crisis triggering economic and geopolitical disruption, agility became a defining hallmark for success, according to the study. Workday surveyed more than 1,000 C-suite executives and business leaders to identify key challenges and opportunities across the offices of the CEO, chief financial officer (CFO), chief human resources officer (CHRO), and chief information officer (CIO) in adopting digital best practices for greater organizational agility. The survey results indicate that business leaders plan to accelerate digital initiatives, with one-third noting that the single change that would improve organizational resilience with future crises is accelerated rates of digital growth.

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Key highlights of the survey include:

  • Digital revenues dominate and are accelerating. Over one-third of firms expect 75% or more of their revenue to come from digital (either digital products or traditional goods sold via online means) in three years’ time. This has tripled since 2019, where just one-in-10 firms had the same projection.
  • Changing tools is easier than changing minds and habits. While more than half of organizations (56%) say their technology is compatible with digital transformation goals, just 16% say the same about their company’s culture. Without additional emphasis on employees and culture, organizations run the risk of not getting the desired returns on technology investments.
  • Agility extends to technology investment. More than three-quarters (77%) of firms now report that their organization is fast to act on failing investments in new technology (technology that isn’t successfully deployed or used)—up from 70% in 2019.
  • Continuous planning emerges as a new best practice. With nearly half (43%) the respondents having embraced continuous planning prior to the pandemic, three core enablers signal success: access to data, deployment of smart technologies, and an agile culture.

The report details strategies for organizations to overcome barriers to adopting digital technologies to achieve greater organizational agility. These include creating an adaptable culture, investing in smart technologies to increase digital revenue growth, ensuring real-time data is accessible for decision making, and leveraging cross-functional teams to boost upskilling and reskilling to empower employees.

Digital Initiative Priorities Differ Across the C-Suite
The findings also explore the perceptions and challenges across key functions when considering digital technology initiatives and challenges. Among the offices of the CEO, CFO, CHRO, and CIO, different priorities emerged:

  • Office of the CEO: The Digital Optimists. CEOs are the most optimistic of the C-suite when it comes to their firm’s digital transformation efforts. Yet they view culture as a barrier to almost all aspects of agility with nearly one-in-three seeing culture as the biggest barrier to continuous planning (31%) and data accessibility (32%).
  • Office of the CFO: Future Technologist. Finance is focused on ensuring systems are highly integrated (64%) and cloud technology is deployed (49%) to improve the planning/reporting loop as well as mitigate the risk of future crises.
  • Office of the CHRO: Cultural Renegades. HR leaders are focused on developing the culture their firm needs to embrace true agility. Yet, only 62% of HR leaders agree that incentives and key performance indicators (KPIs) align to cultural outcomes or that the organization’s culture equips the business to embrace change.
  • Office of the CIO: Data Champions. The skills deemed most valuable among IT and operations leaders are the ability to use smart technologies (33%) and advanced analytics and data visualization (30%).
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Comment on the news:

“Business leaders now face a harsher reality about the urgency of digital transformation,” said Leighanne Levensaler, executive vice president, corporate strategy, and managing director and co-head, Workday Ventures, Workday. “This study highlights that COVID-19 not only cemented the need for companies to modernize but, as important, to accelerate those efforts. From supporting remote work processes to increasing opportunities for digital revenue and rebuilding supply chains, technology limitations proved to be a challenge for organizations in 2020, creating urgency to embrace and adopt new digital strategies.”

Additional Information

The full report “Organizational Agility: Roadmap to Digital Acceleration” will be available first quarter 2021, with initial findings around the differences between fast and slow responders during the COVID-19 pandemic on the Workday blog. Additional insights around organizational agility can be found at


The data in this report comes from a global survey commissioned by Workday and conducted by Longitude, a Financial Times company, in June and July 2020. The survey of 1,024 business leaders and senior executives (C-suite or their direct reports) investigated how businesses approach digital transformation strategy and execution, the capabilities they need to embrace an agile approach to transformation, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business performance and forward planning.

Respondents were based in 14 countries and worked across 12 sectors, with most from the financial services (18%), professional services (15%), and technology (10%) sectors.

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