Earlier this year, Clifford Chance collaborated with Forbes on a global survey of 300 senior business executives to understand their approach and attitudes to tech-driven growth. The report opened with the following quote: “Every company also has to be a technology company because if you aren’t, I don’t know how you can survive into the future." (Susan Story, ex-CEO of American Water)

In a webinar entitled 'Accelerating digital transformation - turning compliance, regulation and automation to your advantage', Partners from across the Clifford Chance network gathered (virtually) to take Story's remark one step further: how do companies move from just surviving to succeeding through digital transformation? Put differently, how do companies strike the right balance of offensive and defensive technology strategies in order to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world?

It was a fascinating discussion. Here are some of our key takeaways:

Alex Woods – As we fall back in love with tech it is prompting people to move from a defensive tech standpoint to an offensive tech strategy again. Companies are no longer focussing so heavily on managing the risk their data poses but are now looking to leverage their data in ways that create value.

Jennifer Mbaluto – Success requires businesses to manage data as an asset across the whole enterprise. It is no longer acceptable for any part of the business to be a tech laggard. Even one area of the business that isn't up to speed jeopardises the internal efficiency needed to succeed and not simply survive.

Dessislava Savova – In this regulatory landscape there is a clear need for companies and their boards to feel more confident in navigating challenges. In order to be confident, they need to be better equipped. This requires high-quality, consistent, easy to access knowledge. We regularly see companies achieving this effectively and broadly using technology.

Dan Silver – Despite the current patchwork of regulation at both the state and sector level, the Biden administration makes the prospect of sweeping federal privacy legislation much more likely. Whether this necessarily means empowerment of the individual consumer is up for debate. It will be interesting to see which responsibilities on data controllers and processors make their way across the Atlantic.

Samantha Ward – There is a need to bridge the gap between individuals with technical capabilities and senior management, those that rely on the output of that technology. Collective buy-in to technology is critical. Finding and using the unique resource of those who understand both the technical and business aspects of technology are hugely valuable. This is something that we feel we have achieved with CC Dr@ft.

It will be fascinating to observe which companies emerge from the pandemic having survived, and which come out with the infrastructure and strategy to succeed.

Click here to view a recording of the webinar