The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people and business alike to change. The transformation in consumer habits, how people are communicating, getting work done, learning virtually, is just a small fraction of the changes we expect to see in the coming years. Additionally, the disruption in supply chains, consumer demand, and a municipal mandate to maintain social distancing is forcing companies to adapt to an ever evolving list of new challenges. These changes are not only consequential in the short run, but bear significant relevance in the future of business and work culture.
Here are a few changes that we believe will have some permanence in the years to come:
Acceleration Of Automation
In Many Ways The Pandemic Merely Accelerated Our Technology Road Map By Forcing Companies To Immediately Re-Think Their Cost Structures To Adapt To Shocks In Demand. As One Of The Latest Technologies To Emerge In This Sector, Robotics Process Automation (RPA) Has The Ability To Automate Tedious And Repeatable Tasks Performed By A Human. Using Accounting Operations As An Example, RPA Will Be Increasingly Impacting Work Streams Such As Order To Cash, Procure To Pay, And Record To Report Processes – Just To Name A Few.
Some Companies Were Already Experimenting With These Technologies In Their Shared Service Groups But With The Advent Of The Pandemic, We Expect To See An Accelerated Adoption Of These Technologies More Universally Across The Organization.
The Transition To The Cloud
Companies Are Finding Themselves Having To Work Effectively Across Matrices In A Virtual And Distributed Work Environment Overnight. Organizations Already Leveraging Cloud Technologies Were Able To Make The Transition More Seamlessly Thanks To The Flexibility And Agility Their Cloud Technology Stacks. Working In The Cloud Enables Quicker Processing Speeds, Stronger Security Protocols, Greater Access To Information, And Alignment Across The Organization In A Virtual Environment.
As Evidenced By The Surge Of Growth In AWS, Azure, And Google Cloud, Cloud Technology Is Critical For The Future More Than Ever. We Expect An Accelerated Adoption By Companies Still Leveraging On Premise System Architecture.
More Robust Continuity Planning
Companies Will Eventually Do A Post-Mortem To See How Prepared They Were For The Immediate Changes Caused By The Pandemic. Emerging From This Process Is A Desire To Be More Agile, Nimble, And Responsive To The Macro-Economic Environment. The World Is Changing Quickly, And As It Does, Geo-Political Uncertainty And Natural Events Are Driving Volatility At An Unprecedented Rate; Companies Need To Be Prepared.
Included In This Planning Should Be An Emphasis Around Technology Enabled Processes And Information Flow To Allow For Organizations To Adapt And Move Quickly.
Working From Home Is Here To Stay
With Companies Being Forced To Maintain Productivity In A Distributed Work Environment, They Innovated And Built And/Or Improved Upon The Existing Infrastructure That Would Allow For Employees To Get Work Done While At Home. There Is No Going Back To The Way It Was. We See The Future Of Brick And Mortar Offices Changing As An Environment That Will Encourage Collaboration And That Are Optimized For Team Based Activities. Individual Work And Employees With Wants/Needs That Provide For A Strong Preference To Work From Home Will Emerge As Winners When The Dust Clears.
We See This As A Great Thing. Companies Are Typically Slow To Adapt To Changes That Are Mostly Positive For All Stakeholders. If Employees Working From A Company Office Are There Optionally, They Are More Likely To Want To Be There And Enjoy Their Work, Making For A More Productive And Happier Workplace. While Employees With Desires To Work From Home Will Also Be Happier. The Challenge Will Naturally Be In The Adaptation Of Management To Move From A Broader Management Philosophy To One That Accommodates Individual Preferences.
We Are Learning In Different Ways
Whether Its Onboarding A New Employee Or Trying To Teach A 6th Grader Geometry, Learning In A Virtual Environment Is Not Without Growing Pains. We Will However See New Technologies And Platforms Emerge That Are Designed To Make This Process More Productive. For Example, This May Accelerate Technologies In The Augmented Reality Space That Are Designed To Produce More Meaningful Visual Or Tactile Benefits To Make For A More Meaningful And Engaging Experience.
This Environment Also Encourages Employees To Be More Self-Sufficient, More Resourceful, And Independent In Their Ability To Ask Questions, Perform Research, And To Seek Out Resources That Could Accelerate Their Learning Curves. It’s Also Going To Force Companies To Better Organize, Document, Record, And Present Their Information So That Learning Or Consuming It, Is More Easily Understood In A Distributed Environment. We’re Going To See Better Training Videos, More Digital Learning Apps, Etc..
A Shift In Values
2020 Has Been A Year Of Challenge And Reflection. Working From Home And Adapting To Our Current Set Of Circumstances Have Forced People To Reflect On Their Values. Many Individuals Are Spending More Time With Their Families, Less Time On The Road, More Time In Nature, On Walks, Etc.. These Changes Not Only Have Economic Implications Upstream, But Carry With Them A Desire For Changes In How We Work, Where We Spend Our Time, And What We Focus On. It’s Vital That Companies And Leadership Listen For These Changes, And Understand How To Embrace And Adapt To Them.
Patrick Coggins & Rahul Merani