Top Four Things Businesses Need to Consider in 2021

Reimagining the Future of Work

10.13.20 by Glenn Mathis, VP and General Manager, Global Client Services and All Covered

On September 23, Amy Loomis from IDC and I hosted a virtual event to debate and explore what 2021 will have in store for businesses. Our goal was to provide a glimpse into the future of work and direct business owners on the right steps to take today to prepare for tomorrow. Here are four things businesses should be thinking about as we head toward 2021.

1) Cloud and security

Data is king when it comes to the smooth running of businesses, exceptional customer experience and substantial innovation. But at its most basic level, access to data simply enables people to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. To harness the value of data, businesses need to have platforms that allow data to be shared. This starts with the digitalization of paper and creating workflow automation. And to support collaboration in a world where work practices will continue to be increasingly dynamic – whether these are remote or in-office work practices – embracing the cloud will be key.

Accordingly to a recent study by IDC, adoption of the cloud is set to rise by 15-20% in the next six months. But businesses will also need to think about security, hand-in-hand with investing in the cloud. Research by RiskIQ has highlighted that in the space of one minute, 375 new threats emerge, three new phishing sites are created and 16,172 records are compromised. Security breaches have the power to bankrupt a business overnight, particularly with new forms of ransomware emerging, such as “DarkSide,” where cybercriminals are demanding ransoms ranging from $200k to $2 million.

Once businesses have successfully implemented the right cloud platform to support collaboration and considered their end-to-end security strategy, they will be well positioned to adopt AI, machine learning and IoT – the next digital revolution, which is expected to once again disrupt our understanding of the world of work.

2) Rethinking the management of teams and people

As the world of work continues to become increasingly dynamic, with 40% of employees expected to continue working remotely full-time, businesses must rethink how we quantify employee performance. Leaders should no longer manage teams around the “9 to 5,” but instead transition the focus to outputs and employee engagement.

The pandemic has made it clear that we need to move to a much more outcomes-based model of management that enables employees to get work done in ways that are most effective for them individually. At Konica Minolta, we’ve seen how managing teams around strategic outcomes has resulted in new ways of collaboration and through this alignment, it has had greater benefits to the bottom line. For example, our Return to Work program, launched in June, was an idea that originated from our sales organization, was taken on by leadership, and then dispersed to multiple departments including IT Services and ECM. But collaboration around strategic outputs is contingent on employee engagement.

With remote work set to stay, while productivity is thought to be high, the reality is employee dissatisfaction is also on the rise. If not managed effectively, this can increase operating costs by $450 to $550 billion dollars a year (Gallup Research). Coupled with this, employee dissatisfaction can result in the decline of collaboration, which can hinder innovation. The future will reveal that having the right technology is only part of the challenge; culture, engagement and the way we lead teams is paramount to support business success.

3) Digital transformation

In November 2019, Forbes published an article that suggested 70% of organizations had a digital transformation strategy in place. However, when 2020 hit, the pandemic highlighted that perceptions were far from reality, particularly as businesses across North America struggled to pivot to remote work. And with the rise of the second wave of COVID, we need to revaluate the way businesses handle disruption as a new norm.  In response to this, going into 2021, digital transformation should see a renewed rigour, and be considered a core corporate objective.

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. But do not be fooled by the word ‘technology.’ While technology will support businesses to relieve pain points, it is as much about providing human-to-human experiences, such as improving the customer journey based on insights gleaned from data.

It is worth noting that Digital Transformation is no easy feat. According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of all Digital Transformation initiatives do not reach their goals. Of the $1.3 trillion that was spent in 2019, it was estimated that $900 billion went to waste. So Digital Transformation is as much about people engagement and management as it is about technology. Only from there can businesses consider new models to help ride the continuous wave of disruption.

4) Be smart about technology and partners

The easiest part of all is to be smart about the technology and the partners you use. Partnering well is going to be critical – particularly in an SMB environment – to leverage the kind of thinking and expertise needed. Through such partnerships, businesses can capitalize on current trends to be more prepared for whatever the future may hold.

Contact us to explore how we can help you navigate your journey to digital transformation.

Or to view the virtual event, head to: Reimagining the Future of Work: A Glimpse into 2021 and Beyond.

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