IDC: Stay Connected in the New Normal

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Surviving the increased pace of change introduced by digital transformation and the pandemic.

The past 18 months have amplified the rate of digital change for the organisation. While digital transformation has been on the corporate radar for some time before the pandemic, it has been pushed into overdrive as organisations adapt to remote and hybrid working frameworks. It has also proven its worth, shifting perceptions from a technology that could potentially change the world of work to one that has fundamentally reshaped how people and organisations interact and engage. As Mark Walker, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, points out – the platforms have proven themselves, so now it’s time to start answering the questions that come with the transformation.

“There are challenges that have to be overcome, and more robust policies put in place,” he adds. “Organisations need to know how to provide access, how to manage remote teams, what the cost implications are, both in terms of technology and the human factor. There has been a rapid rise in burnout and many consider this to be the new pandemic as employees feel that they are connected 24/7 to their companies.”

One critical factor that organisations must consider is access to knowledge, not just information. Employees need the right networks, data, and devices to work effectively; organisations need the right security controls and parameters in place to ensure this is done securely, and that access is only granted to the right people. In addition, every part of these processes must embody speed and agility. Endlessly complicated access protocols will only serve to limit productivity and, ultimately, customer service and experiences.

“When teams are working remotely or from home, connectivity is essential – most of what employees need to do involves video, accessing large data files, or communicating with clients,” says Walker. “This process can’t be hindered by poor connectivity or technology. It won’t just leave a bad taste in the employees’ mouths, but it will fundamentally reflect on how customers engage with the company and their long-term loyalty. Sustainable business in the new normal must focus on strategic connectivity that’s accessible and capable.”

Mark Walker, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey

Another essential factor is transparency. In a world defined by boundaries and social distancing, organisations have to cut through the complexity and limited employee visibility to create transparent processes and systems. This not only benefits the organisation in terms of security but the employee in terms of accessibility and engagement. Reliable, transparent, accessible, and capable systems are the runway that the modern organisation needs to take off.

“There is a revolution happening,” says Walker. “At first it was forced. People had to move and get online to continue working for the business. Now, as the model has proven its viability, people want a better quality of working life and the option to remain remote.  Companies that don’t offer the option are losing their talent. This is evidenced by numerous instances where organisations have attempted to get people back in the office with food trucks and fun office activities and it was a failure. People don’t want to work like that anymore.”

Touted by some as the year of the great resignation, 2021 has seen a global shift in employee attitudes. According to a survey in the US undertaken by Bankrate, 55% of the workforce is actively looking for new employment, resigning from jobs they don’t like in conditions they don’t want.  The Microsoft Work Trend Index found that 40% of people are planning to change jobs this year. The reality is that people know they can get their jobs done online, and they can do them from anywhere. So, they’re moving to places they love, to do work they enjoy for companies that respect their digital nomad desires.

“This works both ways, now the access to skills is now global, a meritocracy,” says Walker. “Organisations are no longer limited to hiring skilled people close to the office, they can hire from anywhere in the world. They can tap into talent that fits their business without anyone needing to walk into an office or wear a mask. It’s a future that’s evolving, in favour of the agile and the connected.”

The faster, the more connected, the more accessible the business, the more relevant it is for its customers and its employees. This is the time to invest in platforms that deliver sustainable connectivity, and in technology that ensures that connectivity is leveraged properly. It is the era of information, access, and remote control – and those companies that play the game are the ones that will shape what the world of work looks like in the future.

“There’s a lot of learning still to be done, and a lot of factors still inhibiting many companies as they face this change,” concludes Walker. “But this is the right time to start reassessing your digital investments, to unpack hybrid working policies, and to learn from the lessons of the past 18 months.”


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