As the end of the year approaches and you begin reviewing your strategy for the year ahead, we’ve put together some key learnings and considerations to help aid your planning and give your organisation a competitive advantage.
Business in 2021 was all about getting back to some sort of normality, despite the massive challenges of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. It was proven that those who were already using or were able to quickly adopt digital solutions, were positioned to survive and even grow during this time with an enabled remote workforce.
Throughout 2022 for many businesses, it was imperative to start generating income again, rebuilding supply chains and a customer base for a sustainable future. Investment may be the last thing on the minds of leaders with little or no money in the bank and the confidence in risk-taking at an all-time low. Survival is paramount. The challenge of course is that investment – in technology and in the workforce - is essential to drive business forward.
Arguably, this is the most important time to make the most effective investment decisions that can transform and regenerate stalled activity. Business priorities may have shifted too. Leaders are being asked to review economic and other concerns with a greater emphasis on running organisations in a more responsible way, in relation to their people and the planet.
Employees need the right digital business solutions at their disposal in order to maximise productivity. This means making choices that make their working lives easier, but that also support the flexible, hybrid working that many employees now want. Attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent is a key business strategy and successful employers are listening and responding to what their employees want.
Employees, customers, suppliers, and investors have other concerns too, around Diversity and inclusion (D&I), and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Digital solutions can furnish accurate real-time data to highlight problems such as lack of diversity across an organisation and provide vital metrics to support improved environmental actions and sustainability.
Digital technology also offers robust, embedded, high-level security against threats and cyber-attacks, protecting the data of everybody in the supply chain, of employees and customers, helping avoid reputational and financial disasters. It may be a difficult pill for some businesses to swallow, but those who do not invest now, in people and technology, are likely to find themselves competitively disadvantaged in the coming months.
Technology continues to be the great enabler for remote working, allowing teams to collaborate and share ideas even when working from different locations. Having access to documents in real time, from any location with a broadband connection, means that teams can collaborate in a powerful way.
Many digital Cloud-based solutions are focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, saving employees hours that would have been spent on repetitive admin tasks, freeing up their time for more creativity and problem-solving. This offers businesses a much greater return on investment for their employees’ time, thus raising the bar on productivity.
Encouragingly, the appetite for adopting new technology has jumped since last year. Around half (51% of respondents) say they are open to learning about the benefits of new solutions, up from 40% in 2020, and 49% say they are keen to adopt new technology, which is twice as many as last year. This suggests that users have experienced the benefits of digital solutions and are keen to explore more.
Cloud-based technology can provide far higher levels of security for data than on-site, legacy systems. Cyber-attacks have increased this year, with criminals using ever-more sophisticated methods to hack data. However, one of the greatest areas of concern around this for businesses should be human error within their own organisation. Many have been using their own domestic broadband connections and personal laptops during lockdown and in-house IT and security teams have had a reduced level of visibility and control over potential risks.
When making predictions about cyber-security and the Cloud, Gartner says that 95% of Cloud security failures in 2020 would be because of human error within the organisation – employees not having a great enough understanding or awareness of the potential risks to the data they are working with. This includes employees using external apps on their company computers and inadvertently sharing sensitive information with other colleagues and people outside of the organisation.
Organisations should look carefully at the embedded security systems in any new software solution it is considering and choose one that follows best practice as a minimum requirement. 42% say embedded security is most important when adopting new technology.
Some businesses are investing in additional security support services that can assist with securing networks and ensuring that industry standards and best practice are met. Technology is not however a silver bullet, and employees must be properly educated to understand cybersecurity and their responsibility to be cyber-aware. Successful businesses need to invest in
engaging and ongoing training for staff to make sure people change their online behaviour for the better, and for good.
We are emerging from one of the most challenging periods for business in living memory, and one that will leave a lasting legacy in the way that many employees and organisations approach the world of work. Recovery is foremost in people’s minds, but employees have new expectations of their bosses now, including the right to work remotely more often, more autonomy in their day-to-day tasks, and greater support for their personal health and wellbeing.
Perhaps because of its widespread success as the enabler for remote working during lockdown, there is a far greater appreciation for digital and Cloud-based technology as the future for business solutions. Employees now expect to have digital tools to allow them to work remotely with as much efficiency and engagement as their office-based colleagues.
Our survey has highlighted a disconnect here, in the way business leaders and their employees appear to be thinking. Many bosses appear less committed to providing the right tools to enable remote working than their employees would wish for. Leaders need to recognise the increasing importance of an attractive and authentic EVP, with benefits that have genuine appeal for employees, including hybrid working options and others that recognise the individual needs of each member of staff.
Younger employees have slightly different priorities than some of their older, more experienced colleagues, and leaders are developing an understanding of how to tune in to those concerns. The increasing focus on D&I and ESG policies reflect a workforce that wants to feel like it is making a positive contribution, that the things it does have meaning, and that its actions matter to communities and the wider world.
Diversity plays a critical part in driving change and creativity, resulting in innovation and progress for organisations that embrace it. People want to see themselves represented at all levels within their organisation, to have confidence in a credible career path for themselves there.
Successful businesses are using tools, including diversity pay gap reporting, to provide insights to help them increase D&I. Digital technologies are an important part of this shift towards a greener future, for example with smart meters being used widely by business and domestic energy customers to help them manage their consumption and costs.
Overall, digital technologies are becoming ever-more integrated into our working and home lives and data security is an ongoing concern. Businesses that are implementing education and training for employees around staying secure online, particularly when working from home, are giving themselves an advantage in the race to stay ahead of canny cyber-criminals.
When processes are in place to help people avoid data breaches, using the most appropriate hardware and internet connections, Cloud-based digital technology provides a solution that is head and shoulders more secure than any legacy in-house system. Making the most of that high level security is the responsibility of every leader and employee, working together to help their businesses grow and prosper in the future.
• Investment in people and technology is necessary for growth
• There is a greater pressure on businesses to be more responsible in terms of people and planet
• Attracting, engaging, and retaining the best talent is key for competitive advantage
• Organisations should use technology to help identify problems relating to D&I and ESG
• Robust cyber-security is imperative to help avoid reputational and financial disasters
• AI and automation can provide much greater ROI than manual work
• Embedded security and employee training is vital to help overcome the risk of human error
• Leaders need to listen to employee preferences and adapt to meet these
• Cloud-based technology is fundamental in helping businesses become more secure, flexible, and responsive to changing needs
If you’d like to discuss any of these trends in more detail or speak to an experienced advisor about ensuring your business and processes are optimised for the future, contact us today.
Written by Ellis Raddon, Advanced Account Manager