The Need to Create New Ways of Working
Business has to be more flexible in its recovery from the pandemic. Cloud-based tools are enabling new thinking, tech leaders reveal.
As the economy looks to recover from the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, organizations will need to rethink how they operate, offering services in different ways as a result of social distancing or customer fear and strained economic circumstances. Employees of the organization will also need to be protected and distanced from one another, and their personal needs considered. As a result, the enterprise needs to be adaptable and utilise technology to be profitable, but able to change. Business technology leaders will be at the forefront of managing this change.
“Creativity is crucial,” says Lucy Jones, Head of European Service Delivery at Inchcape, a major automotive retail business. “The business has the bigger picture and you are trying to translate that to technology,” she says of how IT leaders will be working in partnership with their organizations to make the technology estate as flexible as possible to respond with new ways of working in the new economic and health environment.
Global IT Director of Capco, Chris Tunnecliff, agrees with Jones: “Creativity in uncertain times means taking a leaf from the start-up’s book. Their businesses may not survive, but they don’t ever stop being creative.” Start-ups thrived on a creativity that was fostered by the collaborative work environments they made famous. Jones is concerned that this type of environment will be hard to create in the post-pandemic years. “Collaboration was really easy when we were in the same room or meeting at the coffee machine. Now we will need to learn to do that on networking tools.” Tunnecliff agrees, but believes technology led collaboration may well benefit organizations seeking greater flexibility.
“In the office you are rushing between meetings. Now you can IM (instant message) people and I feel I am more connected than before,” he says.
The adoption of Agile methods has helped both business technology leaders, and they feel will be beneficial as they seek to enable new ways of working. “Be Agile and try small frequent changes, which will enable teams to operate creatively,” Jones of Inchcape says. Tunnecliff adds that the culture of the organization is vital too: “You must have diversity and shake it up so you can see who you will get that creativity from.”
A number of organizations are keeping a high level of their office-based staff away from the headquarters and operating the enterprise from home. There are challenges to this. Tunnecliff has previously led IT for insurance business Hiscox and explains that they experimented with home-based call centre staff, and had challenges to the brand. Security is also an issue for a dispersed business and both business technology leaders extol the need for increased security training.
Cloud-based tools enable not only remote working and collaboration, but also flexibility and an ability to discover new ways of working, says Tunnecliff. “There are tools for polling for example, so you don’t get the thoughts of the loudest person all the time. So many people have good ideas, but they have been told ‘no’ before so you have to keep asking them questions.”
“Cloud is an enabler for flexibility and efficiency and for me the key is that it brings multiple platforms into a single pane of glass,” says Jones of how her European role and technology estate is more adaptable. Jones adds how important it is to work with the technology partners: “Talk to your team and to your vendors, as you are not the only one trying to do this, and there are a lot of tools out there that will enable you to create a flexible estate.”