By Adal Zamudio Jul 09, 2020

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown presented an unprecedented technical challenge for businesses across the world. Shifting entire company operations to meet the demands of working remotely may have seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the year. Many, however, achieved this feat in a few short weeks.

The world, however, is only witnessing the tip of the iceberg of how the pandemic will change businesses. With many measures to combat the virus such as social distancing still in place, 75% of companies1 are seeking growth and operational strategies amid the crisis which have significantly accelerated their digital transformations. This has set entire industries on a path to a future that will be structurally different from how they operated a few short months ago.

In an effort to provide a platform for Tech executives from KKR’s portfolio companies, our tech-focused colleagues and KKR’s wider network to discuss responses to the crisis, KKR recently kicked off its global KKR Tech Summit webinar series. The first event focused on our European portfolio companies. The group discussed the drivers they feel are shaping digital acceleration in the post-pandemic world, and what they mean for companies and industries looking to position themselves ahead of this new trend. Among other themes, our experts shared two important takeaways:

To meet shifting consumer behaviour, companies will need to examine their digital presence and need to invest more than ever before in a data-driven business model. Lockdown not only pushed professional lives online, but personal and social lives as well. Never had the world shopped, banked, and entertained itself digitally at such a scale and for so long before the pandemic, forming a potentially irrevocable change in behaviour. E-commerce penetration in the US, for example, grew from 5.6% to 16% between 2009 and 2019. Between the end of 2019 and April 2020, however, penetration lept 11 points to 27%2. Companies looking to capitalise on this shift should closely examine their e-commerce infrastructure, their digital user experience, and how they’re using their own data to inform decision making to understand what’s coming next in the market.

As online workloads increase, so will the importance of cybersecurity. Following the success of working from home during the pandemic crisis, we expect a hybrid of office work and remote work will drive efficiency and become the norm for many companies. But since the beginning of remote working during lockdown, there has been a sharp rise in cyberattacks with the number of phishing sites up 250% between January and March 20203. If this trend continues, we believe companies making investments in cybersecurity will be ahead of the curve. Similarly, we expect cybersecurity software vendors focusing on cloud, identity, privacy/GDPR, and security awareness/training - such as KKR-backed Darktrace and KnowBe4 - will be in high demand as other industries seek partners to support them in the “new normal” of working.

This was a great session and we look forward to the next one. With the depth and breadth of KKR’s network, we will continue to facilitate discussions like this so that we can continue sharing and learning from each other.

1. COVID-19: BCG Perspectives; DRS Digital Transformation 2020 Survey
2. Bank of America, US Department of Commerce, ShawSpring Research
3. Google transparency report;