Digital will separate the winners from the laggards in the hypercompetitive, post-pandemic business landscape, says Ben Pring, Managing Director of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work. We undertook a global, multi-industry study to understand how businesses are preparing for this future and here’s what we found.
COVID-19 changed digital from a nice-to-have adjunct to a must-have tool at the core of the enterprise. The pandemic forced businesses to reassess how they strategize and execute their digital ambitions in a world that has migrated online, possibly for good in many areas. Those that did not prioritize digital prior to the pandemic found that procrastination was no longer an option — the digital landscape is hypercompetitive.
The Cognizant Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), working with Oxford Economics, recently surveyed 4,000 C-level executives globally to understand how they are putting digital to use and what they hope to achieve in the coming years. The CFoW found that digital technologies are key to success in the coming years and uncovered six key steps that all organizations can take to more fruitfully apply to gear-up for the fast unfolding digital future:
- Scrutinize everything because it’s going to change. From how and where employees work, to how customers are engaged, and which products and services are now viable as customer needs and behaviors evolve rapidly.
- Make technology a partner in work. Innovations in AI, blockchain, natural language processing, IoT and 5G communications are ushering in decades of change ahead and will drive new levels of functionality and performance.
- Build new workflows to reach new performance thresholds. The most predictable, rote and repetitive activities need to be handed off to software, while humans specialize in using judgment, creativity and language.
- Make digital competency the prime competency for everyone. No matter what type of work needs to be done, it must have a digital component. Levels of digital literacy need to be built out even among non-technologists, including specialized skills.
- Begin a skills renaissance. Digital skills such as big data specialists, process automation experts, security analysts, etc. aren’t easy to acquire. To overcome skills shortages, organizations will need to work harder to retain and engage workers.
- Employees want jobs, but they also want meaning from jobs. How can businesses use intelligent algorithms to take increasing proportions of tasks off workers’ plates, allowing them to spend their time creating value? This search for meaning stretches beyond the individual tasks of the job to what the organization itself stands for.…Read More……
Ben Pring leads Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and is a coauthor of the books Monster: A Tough Love Letter On Taming The Machines That Rule Our Jobs, Lives, and Future, What To Do When Machines Do Everything and Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations Are Changing the Rules of Business. In 2018, he was a Bilderberg Meeting participant. He previously spent 15 years with Gartner as a senior industry analyst, researching and advising on areas such as cloud computing and global sourcing. He can be reached at Benjamin.Pring@cognizant.com.
One of the biggest misconceptions about digital transformation is that it is all about technological change. With companies feeling an urgent need to transform digitally, technology is considered to be the panacea for business problems and a way to speed up transformation.
But while technology is an important part of digital transformation, it can only deliver benefits if it is procured as part of a wider plan.
The issue is that those making the decisions to implement technology for the sake of technology may be focusing on the process of changing their business, rather than targeting their ultimate goals.
In fact, the majority (71 per cent) of IT leaders say their business is so fixated on digital transformation that the projects may not deliver tangible benefits, according to 2019 research from database company Couchbase.
Caroline Carruthers, former chief data officer at Network Rail and Lowell, believes that understanding the problems the business is trying to solve or the value it is aiming to generate is crucial.
“Otherwise, how do we know we’re not cutting a square hole [with technology] rather than a circular one? People hear buzzwords and want a quick fix; it’s engrained that we want things faster, while advances in consumer technology have meant people expect the same from business technology. However, the problems are far more complex,” she says.