Ideas magnified and value multiplied

A high level of interoperability—when enterprise applications work together—creates long-lasting value, accelerating growth and transformation.

Ideas magnified and value multiplied

A high level of interoperability—when enterprise applications work together—creates long-lasting value, accelerating growth and transformation.


  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Leaders in enterprise technology were growing 2x faster than Laggards.
  • In our latest research, we found that Leaders have doubled down on their tech investments and are now growing 5x faster than Laggards.
  • We also discovered a group of “Leapfroggers” who are compressing digital transformation, growing 4x faster than Laggards and closing the gap with Leaders in 3 strategic steps.

At the leading edge

In 2019, our landmark research on enterprise technology strategies and their impact on performance showed that Leaders in tech adoption and innovation were growing revenues at 2x the speed of tech Laggards.

Curious about the effects of the pandemic, we completed a second round of research in early 2021 and discovered the following:

  1. Technology Leaders have moved even further ahead of the pack and have been growing at 5x the rate of Laggards on average in the past three years.
  2. Among the “Others” there is a group of organizations—18% of the entire sample—that has been able to break previous performance barriers—the Leapfroggers.

Leaders direct their IT budget toward innovation

Doubling down on enterprise tech adoption

Leaders tend to adopt innovative technology sooner and reinvest more frequently. They make smarter tech investment decisions. And they direct their IT budget toward innovation.

When the pandemic began, Leaders scaled their investments in key technologies such as cloud and AI. This helped them absorb impacts quickly and refocus on growth.

In sharp contrast, many Laggards invested in newer technologies for the first time just to keep their companies operational. As the COO of one large bank explained: “The initial moves to the cloud we made have been about keeping the lights on.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate of tech adoption

The pandemic has compressed digital transformation

Survey 1, 2019 (Total 8356) Survey 2, 2021 (Total: 4300)

Emerging Tech: blockchain, extended reality, open source, 3D printing, robotics

IT Infrastructure: DevSecOps, serverless computing, cloud native applications, containers, docker and kubernetes, microservice architectures, distributed logs/event hubs, react/event driven architectures, FaaS.

AI & Automation: deep learning, machine learning

IOT: Internet of Things, edge/fog computing

Cloud: Saas, Iaas, Paas, hybrid cloud

Data: Data lakes/repository, streaming/real-time data, big data analytics

Leaders embrace a broader value agenda and reach beyond traditional business priorities

Scaling technology for performance and success

Leaders focus on innovative outcomes that extend beyond classic economic measures. In less than five years, India’s Jio, a telecommunications subsidiary of Reliance Industries, has grown into a tech Leader on the strength of strategic investments in fixed assets like cell towers, fiber optic cables and cloud data centers. Because of these investments, Jio is in a position today to accelerate the digital transformation of the Indian economy.

Leaders also focus on delivering the best possible user experience to engage with employees and customers more effectively. Almost all industries were required to do business virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders seized this opportunity to create new, meaningful experiences.

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Flipping the script

Introducing Leapfroggers

Leapfroggers are the ones to watch. They are overtaking peers and catching up with Leaders.

What makes a Leapfrogger?
We see the combinatorial effect of two factors:

Impact of flipping the IT budget spend during the pandemic

Recommended strategies

If you have high Systems Strength, and a high Flip Size, continue to increase both Systems Strength and Flip Size in steps.

If you have a low Systems Strength, regardless of Flip Size, focus on building Systems Strength.

If you have high Systems Strength, but low Flip Size, focus on flipping the IT budget allocation toward innovation.

Aim above, go beyond

Adopting a leapfrogging mindset for success

We found that, like Leaders, Leapfroggers demonstrate three strategic imperatives that are crucial to their success:

01 Replatform

They replatform, building Systems Strength by moving to and innovating in the cloud.

Leapfroggers outpace Others in cloud adoption across


types of cloud technologies covered by our study.

02 Reframe

They reframe, adopting an innovation-led mindset and tech strategy. They also prioritize collaboration with ecosystem partners and startups in building new IT systems.


of Leapfroggers are building partnerships across their ecosystem.

03 Reach

They extend their reach, by expanding access to technology across functions and embracing a broader value agenda, including employee reskilling, well-being and mental health.

Leapfroggers target


more business processes for digital transformation than Others.

Follow the Leaders to success

Leapfroggers substantially grow their Systems Strength by moving to the cloud at scale.

They outspend their peers in all cloud technologies covered in our survey and increased their adoption of all technologies by 17%. They also:

  • Design interoperable systems using solutions from ecosystem partners.
  • Spur creativity and collaboration using cloud-based apps.
  • Engage with their customers in dynamic ways using new data tools.

Banco Santander SA, the Madrid-based multinational financial services firm, shows replatforming at work. In 2019, Santander consolidated all of its digital services into a single global unit, removed potential duplication of apps and systems, and ensured that any new platforms are built “only once.”

In replatforming, Santander dismantled internal silos. Systems now clearly map to capabilities. Investments in IT bring together all stakeholders across the organization, instead of creating shadow IT systems and leaving some groups out in the cold. The bank's app was recognized as the Best Bank for Digital Services in Spain in 2020.

Leapfroggers increased their adoption of all technologies by

Second-mover mindset: innovation and collaboration

Leapfroggers are unafraid to reframe: to change their mindset and adapt as needed.

In flipping their IT budgets, Leapfroggers:

  • Treat economic downturns as opportunities to innovate with new technology at scale, rather than to retrench.
  • Partner with public-cloud providers and startups.
  • Understand “second-mover” advantage.

Take Carrefour Group, one of the world’s biggest supermarket chains. Over the past three years, Carrefour has been undergoing a major overhaul to boost sales and profits and transform itself into a digitally savvy food retailer. The company has invested 2.8 billion euros in its digital transformation and has partnered with the likes of Google to create innovation labs and reinvent the customer experience.

The investments in innovation technologies paid off when the pandemic hit. In 2020, globally, Carrefour drove growth of more than 70% in food commerce, reaching 2.3 billion euros and it’s on track to meet its 4.2 billion euros target by 2022.

Driving their strategy? Innovation and collaboration

Embrace a broader value agenda

When Leapfroggers replatform to the cloud and reframe their mindset to innovation they:

  • Build their capability to reach for non-financial business goals, creating value for multiple stakeholders.
  • Close internal innovation gaps between business functions that are “tech-haves” and “tech have-nots”.
  • Personalize training programs for employees and invest in well-being programs and mental health.

Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT) embodies what it means to reach. The telecom giant has performed well in a difficult business environment and has been a model of resilience during the pandemic.

Why? Because of a decision by DT in 2016 to modernize its IT estate and invest in cultural and technological innovation. The enterprise-wide transformation initiative was aimed at improving employees’ skills, democratizing access to technology and restoring stability and reliability to its IT organization.

Expand access to technology across functions and embrace new value

Steps toward leadership

While each organization’s path is unique, evolving tech strategies deliver greater success when companies master these three imperatives.

Start with replatforming to build Systems Strength, primarily by accelerating migration to the cloud. Then reframe by flipping the IT budget toward innovation. And finally, use the combinatorial power of Systems Strength and Flipping to reach beyond traditional business priorities and create multidimensional value.


Start with cloud to advance your business growth objectives.

Thriving companies harness key cloud technologies including AI to outpace peers.

Where to start?
Build Systems Strength.
Migrate and modernize your IT landscape with cloud through careful assessment, disposition and prioritization.


Rethink IT investments to strengthen your innovation muscle.

The top technology priority for thriving companies during the pandemic has been scaling innovation. If your IT budget is primarily to ‘keep the lights on,’ you’ll continue falling behind peers.

Where to start?
Flip the IT budget allocation.
Prioritize freed-up capital to further invest in new technology innovation.


Expand access to technology across functions, invest in well-being and equality to turbocharge talent and embrace a broader value agenda.

Thriving companies expand access to innovative technology for twice as many enterprise processes and reskill at almost twice the rate (1.7x) of pre-COVID peers.

Where to start?
Reach beyond traditional business priorities. Scale technology and talent based on value to drive exceptional customer experiences and new value propositions.

Scaling digital transformation with innovative strategies

The profound disruption caused by COVID-19 is accelerating the trend in innovative technology adoption. But the pandemic has also awakened business leaders to embed responsible practices and create value for multiple stakeholders.

As we enter a new era, business leaders are reimagining their company’s purpose by embedding responsible practices and creating multidimensional value at the core of their strategies. As they extend their mission, enterprise technology must move in lock-step, reaching beyond current priorities.

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