It’s time to switch to the long game on pandemic recovery

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Canadian organizations were quick to pivot to cope with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, according to IDC, they’re focused on developing the digital workplace of the future.

In the past, organizations would usually cut costs and try to ride out a crisis, said Evan Hardie, IDC Canada Research Director – Future of Work at a recent webinar. “This time, the dynamics are actually very different. Companies that were on their way to digitally transforming are now seeing the advantages firsthand. And those that were caught off-guard are doubling down on their investment.”

The technology investments that are being made today will influence an organization’s competitiveness both in the short-term and through to 2023 and beyond, Hardie said. “There really can’t be a band-aid solution.”

“There is a firm need to reinvent and reimagine the strategy,” agreed Rakshit Ghura, Vice President & Global Head, Digital Workplace Services with HCL Technologies. “Companies that are always investing in their digital dexterity with a long-term view will always be better prepared.”

Technology roadmaps are changing

An IDC survey shows that 82 per cent of Canadian organizations plan to adjust their technology roadmaps. Their priorities going forward are to continue technology projects that will help reduce costs or generate revenue. At the same time, they want to add new projects to take advantage of competitors’ weaknesses and capture market share.

Outsourcing non-core functions is another big trend, said Hardie. “Remote work has put a real strain on network infrastructure so they’re trying to find ways to outsource that to get back to business continuity.” Accelerating the use of cloud is a key part of this strategy. Security, including assessments, consultation and data protection, is also being moved to the outsource category. Companies are looking to secure the remote and distributed work models for the long term, Hardie said. Finally, there is a big push to outsource document process services, such as the digital mailroom or payment remittance, so that companies can stay focused on revenue generation.

Automation is picking up steam as a key area of focus, said Hardie. IDC predicts that by 2022, 45 per cent of repetitive tasks in large organizations will be automated or augmented.

Renewing the focus on people and process

The flexible workplace is here to stay, said Ghura. Indeed, the latest IDC research shows that over half of organizations will continue to use a hybrid model when the office reopens. Forty-three per cent expect this will still be the case a year after reopening.

Organizations that are faring better are those that have been leading with empathy during the pandemic, Ghura said. “We’re seeing the advent of compassionate change management, with a focus on employee health and wellness. This is a new set of capabilities that will play a critical role.”

HCL has developed solutions designed to help companies manage this transition. These include a range of services from ensuring that employees have the right toolsets for remote work to occupancy management. “We need to provide an Uber kind of experience to employees to book any kind of services they need, whether it’s IT or HR services,” said Ghura. “Employees are the greatest source of competitive advantage.”

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