Kathy Gibson is at Context Channel Connect SA – The way we work, learn and play has changed forever – and CIOs are key to making this change successful.

This is the word from Yesh Surjoodeen, regional director: southern Africa at HP Inc, who says employers have become more aware of employee well-being, while parents are more involved in children’s education.

In this new environment, technology has become a lot more trusted, as the tool that has helped to bring us all through the last two years.

At HP Inc, the company has realised that the ability to work everywhere is a necessity, not a luxury, Surjoodeen says.

Surveys show that a massive 52% of employees will work from home all or some of the time, so it’s important to cater to their needs.

Meanwhile, 51% of Fortune CEOs never expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels.

When it comes to security, 77% of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) agree more remote work mean more vulnerabilities.

But some companies are still not ready: 45% of ITDMs are not fully set up to support remote work.

There can be no doubt that change has happened, and companies have to change too, with collaboration at the centre of making this happen.

Surjoodeen points out that company expectations are often different to what employees actually want. IT leaders estimated that 68% of employees would work onsite, with just 1% in a hybrid environment Employees, on the other hand want to work mostly in a hybrid model (53%).

But there is one reality we all have to understand, he adds: that pre-Covid technology simply won’t solve the new ways we work.

“We have to spend more time understanding what collaboration means, and find new ways of working.”

Security is always a big issue, with increased in firmware and ransomware attacks, and the rapid evolution of malware taking place.

Importantly, hybrid working is not just about remote working, but the shift to being in a collaboration space.

“We talk about the digital world, but we have to look at how we need to change to cope with the new world. WE hve change the way we operate, work, engage and serve our customers,” Surjoodeen says.

This means the IT companies have to become more digital themselves. They have to digitise platforms and automate; manage data to create new insights and efficiencies; streamline to reinvest for the future; enable new value propositions and business models; and create a more digital-centric culture.

“We need to become comfortable with the digital culture.”

Surjoodeen points out that the key industry mega-trends are multi-cloud, security and IP protection, mobile workforce; and desktop as a service (DaaS).

Anticipating trends is a critical piece of the innovation equation, he says.

Some of the key trends that HP Inc futurists are tracking include the future reality, intelligence, wellness, security, sustainable technology and employment.

When it comes to reality, in a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environment it would be wrong to assume that way we work now will be the same forever, Surjoodeen explains.

“For employees, their reality is not necessarily sitting behind a monitor – yes, we can communicate, but not necessarily collaborate.”

What has been missing from the discussion is HR, and policies need to quickly evolve otherwise we will have an overworked and stressed workforce.

Meanwhile, sustainability has become a big global issue, and more customers are now challenging their technology suppliers and employers about sustainability, Surjoodeen says.

“If you don’t have a strong sustainability story, you are going to come short. Customers are asking about it, so it is rising into the priority list quickly.