Interview: Kevin Griffen, Vocus
How has Australia coped with COVID-induced changes to operations and workplaces? Will things go back to a ‘new normal’ in 2022?
Full-time work from home was not in anyone’s plan. Before the pandemic, it was impossible to think that such a widespread shift would’ve occurred — in fact, most businesses probably wouldn’t have wanted it to happen. The situation forced everyone’s hand and accelerated the future of work in a way that no-one thought possible. Changes that would have taken years to implement happened in a matter of days. A ‘new normal’ is evolving, combining the wants and needs of employees, employers, businesses and governments in a balance that has not been seen before.
Much of that was positive: businesses are now more flexible and agile than ever before. Engagement and operations have been digitised, and employee health and wellbeing are at the forefront. But, as organisations adapt to the reality that flexible work isn’t going away, they are taking a more strategic approach to enabling technologies. Tech decisions that were made hastily during COVID and new tech needs that are arising are all being evaluated to determine the big question: does it do what we need and want it to do?
Which new technologies will reach critical mass and become dominant in 2022?
The future of work is here now, and technologies that enable that for employees and end customers should be the focus for organisations in 2022. That includes connectivity, including fibre networks and satellite options, to ensure that people in hard-to-reach places have reliable, cost-effective options.
Distributed cloud is quickly becoming a requirement for many businesses that require their tech to be closer to where their people and services are. Network latency goes hand in hand with distributed cloud, enabling technology like low earth orbit satellites. Hyper automation, or streamlining business processes using people-free tools, is also proliferating. It allows businesses to align their processes quickly and efficiently to their needs.
What is the major potential tech pain point that will face all organisations large and small in 2022?
Businesses had to quickly pivot during COVID to enable employees and deliver for their customers. With the immediate threat behind us, organisations are now assessing what those decisions have meant, and what should be done going forward. With people working in disparate locations, security and risk management are topics of concern, and businesses of all sizes should be taking steps to ensure that no matter where an employee is working from, data and systems are protected.
But to do all that, security personnel are required and businesses in every industry are struggling to get enough skilled staff. Programs or technology aren’t the pain point, but the lack of staff to run these things is, and will continue to be, for organisations of all sizes in 2022 while we all adjust to our post-pandemic reality.
How can I.T. have a greater impact on organisational efficiency in 2022, and who (CEOs, CIOs) should lead the charge?
The problem organisations will see in 2022 isn’t a lack of organisation efficiency but getting staff to collaborate and work efficiently together. It’s a slight difference but a big one — the former is a technology problem, while the latter is a cultural issue.
Instead, the focus will be on readjusting to new business cultural norms going forward. Maximising people’s belief in what they do, bringing the culture of an organisation to wherever people are working from and maintaining team cohesiveness — it’s not one department’s job, but rather a business-wide decision of how the organisation will operate and create a consistent employee experience going forward. This is paramount: if your staff are culturally misaligned or don’t feel like they are contributing to a greater mission, then no amount of technology or high-tech gadgets will help.
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