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Building resilience through people-centered technology
The Elevate Series | April 20, 2021
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Introduction

When the lockdowns were first announced across the globe, most C-suite executives worked to digitize some aspect of their businesses, and fast. There is no doubt that digital adoption sped up like never before during the pandemic. Transformation initiatives were completed within timelines that would have been considered unrealistic in the pre-pandemic world.  However, in this era of rapid digitization, many businesses have found it challenging to keep the causal factor of this change in focus – the people. In fact, people that drive the business, and the people that the business serves, have both emerged as central factors in this maze of rapid change. It’s no wonder that the true potential and success of digital acceleration will be defined by keeping people at the center of this change.

Digital: the currency of resilience in the post-pandemic world

A number of factors point to the centrality of digital in building a resilient enterprise in the post-pandemic world. Here are a few of significance:

  1. Customers want digital: Beyond safety reasons, customers want more than a no-touch experience. Most expect a flawless, consistent, and smooth Omni channel experience like the tech giants deliver.
  2. Employees need digital: While the need for digital technologies began with social isolation directives, many employees have shown a preference for flexible work models. This might form a key factor in talent retention in the post-pandemic world.
  3. Digital brings cost benefits, agility, and flexibility: Digital can bring up to 45% operational efficiency in addition to significant cost savings – of up to 80% in some business processes. In addition, digital operations enable 24x7 operations while injecting flexibility in terms of time and location, enabling enterprises to exploit cost arbitrage across borders, and leverage technologies such as RPA and AI to do more with smaller headcounts.

Successfully orchestrating digital business: What does it take?

Digital cannot be seen as a black-box that brings these benefits to businesses on deployment. In fact, enterprises need their CIOs to step up and understand the bionic relationship between technology and digital business. They must envision business-centric change through the people that drive processes from start to finish. This calls for an inclusive approach to designing change and aggressive upskilling and reskilling initiatives which can ultimately enable digital change to manifest in the most difficult situations. That is, in the mindset of employees, who are used to performing tasks in a specific fashion or order with tools that may no longer fit in a transformed enterprise.

Keeping people at the center of digital acceleration

So how can enterprises keep people at the heart of an accelerated, enterprise-wide digitization journey? Here are three ways to achieve a human-centric technological shift:

  1. Understand: As businesses envision technological change, leveraging data to understand the motivations underlying customer and/or employee behaviors, mapping user journeys, and pinpointing incentives for and against a specific change will be critical.
  2. Translate: Translating these insights into human-centric digital change will require rapid prototyping, and sparking an aggressive approach to embracing and championing change in micro-communities will be the key to creating an entry point into the future enterprise.
  3. Sustain: Enterprises have found it difficult to create an acceptance for change – sustaining it, even more so. However, long-term success in the digital world will require the workforce to thrive in continuous change.

Lastly, digitization must not stop at filling the gaps in physical interactions in the digital world order. Instead, flattening the learning curve and injecting rapid improvements iteratively is what will define success in the bounce-back post COVID-19.

Conclusion

The pandemic endowed some critical insights into adaptation measures that brought success – like not equating contactless with not human. As businesses prepare for the bounce-back, envisioning a bionic relationship with technology and people will be the key to reimagining business in the post-pandemic era. Growing comfort and acceptance with technologies will establish digital as the currency of resilience and success.