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Ready for the ‘new normal’?

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Is your organisation prepared for the ‘new normal’?

Chris Corlett is head of business development with MBS, a technology services business with over 300 clients in 40 countries including many in Jersey. He writes:

MORE and more media coverage is referring to the ‘new normal’; but what is it? And will it affect my organisation?

In short, the new normal is that there is no ‘normal’. Instead there is greater uncertainty and more rapid change than ever before in our lifetimes. And it will fundamentally affect every organisation.

Clearly, COVID-19 has brought about huge changes in society, consumers and businesses. At the same time we are living through what is often called the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ as we move rapidly into the digital era, with more activity automated and ‘always-on’ than many of us can even imagine.

As a result, many leaders are under pressure to invest in their organisation’s digital transformation in order to survive and thrive.

Yet how can you make investment decisions when the world is in a recession with no clear path let alone timetable out of it? It is tempting to just wait until the outlook is clearer, but the events of recent years – from Brexit to Trump – have shown that even the idea of a ‘clear outlook’ may be illusory. And the longer you wait, the more you risk being left behind by competitors who do invest.

Much analysis indicates that the organisations which invested in digital transformation before the COVID-19 crisis emerged have fared best through it. The consultancy and research firm McKinsey recently published analysis that shows the businesses which have implemented a ‘bold, integrated digital strategy’ have delivered annual growth rates 50% higher than their peers.

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EY has just published a survey of business leaders where over 40% said they now intend to accelerate their digital transformation strategy as the best response to the ‘new normal’.

But what to invest in? There is a huge array of confusing acronyms that are thrown around such as blockchain, AI, RPA and CX. My advice is always start with the business issue or opportunity, then determine what technologies can help you maximise the value you achieve.

Let me give a good example of a topical issue for almost all organisations.

Are my workers who are at home becoming ill with the stress of too much work or are they sitting in the garden tapping laptop keys occasionally?

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Managers have always wrestled with how to assess the relative performance of individuals, teams and business units. When many staff are working from home, it feels almost impossible to have the visibility and control needed to manage your organisations safely and effectively. So what do you do?

First define what you need, starting with the need to efficiently direct the right tasks to the right people rapidly – ideally automatically.

Right now this typically involves too many videoconferences, emails and phone calls; it can feel like you and your staff are spending more time talking about what needs to be done than doing it.

Next, you need real-time information on what activities each individual, team and business unit are working on. This should give you a full audit trail of who did what when and clear warnings before things go wrong.

It should identify issues that you can improve. Plus it should do all of this using simple graphical tools that do not require a PHD in computing to use.

Good workflow software can do all of the above. And good workflow is a key component of leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. The ECM I know best is Laserfiche. Independent analyst Gartner recently stated: ‘Laserfiche is the leading global provider of intelligent content management and business process automation.’ So it is worth considering if you need to accelerate your digital transformation.

We are seeing clients – including financial services providers and government bodies – use Laserfiche to simplify and automate internal business processes, improving efficiency, reducing risk and slashing elapsed times. Others are going further, using it to deliver online portals that allow clients and other third parties to access the information and services they require 24 hours a day. All with a full audit trail that enables more comprehensive and affordable regulatory compliance that they could ever achieve with their previous, often manual processes.

I know it is daunting to be investing for the future now, particularly when there are so many technologies and service providers. So find people you trust, ask for free demonstrations and trials, run pilot projects and then scale what works. But don’t wait for ‘normal’ to return – you could be waiting forever.

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