Kathy Gibson reports – It goes without saying the digital transformation is underway – and it is a tough thing to do. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the pressure felt in the new world of work.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated transformation, and also highlighted the issues that make it hard to do.
“Too many organisations are focusing on the wrong issues with regard to their remote teams,” says Graeme Codrington, futurist and and expert on the future of work.
“Managing and getting the most out of remote workers requires more than just setting up a remote location. It’s an entire mindset shift about where, when, how and even why people work.
“Getting the right systems, software and technology in place is an obvious foundation on which to build the leadership and management shifts that are necessary.”
When it comes to the working environment, Lorna Hardie, regional director: sub-Saharan Africa at VMware, explains that Covid-19 has given rise to the reality of the “anywhere workforce”.
But there are many questions about the sustainability of this model, which has been researched by VMware and Vanson Bourne.
When rethinking the workspace, the physical and cultural elements both have to be considered. “But more than ever, we have consider the technological welfare of our employees,” Hardie says.
“The evolution of the workforce is less focused on the nuts and bolts of technologies. Rather, it is about how the current state of business must change through a modernised approach to the applications that will help meet the new demands of customers.
“This shift in thinking to focus on identifying with the customer is significant as technology is now an enabler instead of a means to an end,”
The number of employees who view remote working as a prerequisite has grown by 41% in EMEA – and 52% among Generation X respondents.
There are clear business and employee benefits of flexible working: 69% of employees say their stress levels have improved; 76% believe personal connections with colleagues are better; and 65% feel more empowered to speak up in video conference meetings.
But is the boardroom and management keeping pace? Thirty-seven percent of managers worry their team won’t stay on task when working remotely; 28% feel their boardroom culture discourage remote working, and 59% feel more pressure to be online outside of normal working hours.
This raises a few red flags, says Hardie. “Line of sight management should be a thing of the past; and there has to be a broader level of trust.
“And consider the incredible pressure that people feel to work out of hours: we need to have policies to protect workers, but line management needs to demonstrate how to do this.”
The modern business needs to make use of modern apps, says Ian Jansen van Rensburg, senior systems engineering manager and lead technologist at VMware sub-Saharan Africa.
The VMware study has found that companies need leaders with technology in their DNA in order to succeed – in fact, 71% of EMEA business leaders believe CEOs and executive leadership positions should be filled by people with technology career backgrounds, such as app or software development.
“Business leaders have never been at the helm of so much change, so those with an inherent knowledge of technology and how applications can help them to adapt, have a real advantage.”
Business leaders with a technology background drive better results for the company, the research shows. There is a 50% improved efficiency across the whole organisation: 42% increased business performance; 40% greater innovation potential; and 37% better customer experience.
Next-generation applications are key to customers experience, Jansen van Rensburg adds.
Today’s tech leaders and the global executive community agree that modern apps define customer experiences, which driven business performance.
Eighty percent of app developers and technology leaders believe that, without successfully modernising applications, organisations will not be able to deliver a best-in-class customers experience; and 88% of global executives believe that enhancing app portfolios will improve customers experience, which is directly tied to revenue growth.
The bottom line is that technology leadership, plus a good digital foundation equals success, Jansen van Rensburg says.
In addition, the right skills must be in the boardroom, he adds – and business leaders agree.
In fact, there is a direct link between apps and customer experience, and improving the business performance.
This means we need to simplify how we build, run, connect, manage and secure traditional next-generation applications, Jansen van Rensburg explains.
The final component of future-proofing the business is how best to meet the needs of the consumer, understanding what they want, and how the modern application and workforce delivers on this need.
However, an online survey of 6 000 consumers in Europe shows that businesses fail to meet the demands of the digital consumer.
Indeed, only32% of consumers surveyed believe the companies they interact with across retail, healthcare, and financial services are delivering an improved digital experience compared to before the pandemic.
In a wake-up call for companies, almost 44% of respondents say they would switch to a competitor is their digital experience doesn’t live up to expectations.
“Ultimately, companies are defined by delivering applications and services that enhance the user experience and are simple, secure and available across all devices,” Hardie says.