Interview: Stephen Darracott, Pitney Bowes
In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today we talk automation with Pitney Bowes’ Stephen Darracott.
How have Australian workplaces coped with COVID? Will things go back to normal?
2020 has been challenging as many businesses had to adapt to serving customers in a virtual way. Pitney Bowes quickly moved to working from home as COVID-19 spread in Australia and across the globe. Fortunately, most staff were equipped to work from home and collaborate virtually.
As the situation improved, we developed an extensive plan for a safe return to office, as the safety and welfare of all our staff is our paramount priority. We communicated regularly, so everyone was well aware of the measures.
When we reopened, we took a flexible approach, offering the choice to work from the office, home, or a combination. This has been successful so it’s unlikely we’ll change this in 2021 and many other businesses are doing the same.
Our recent pulse surveys have highlighted increased employee engagement. People have adapted to the new normal, with a newfound flexibility and work-life balance resulting in increased productivity. Our learnings and best practices are now being rolled out in other countries.
What more can governments do to counter cyber attacks?
The government is already taking steps to combat attacks. Cybersecurity is a collective issue. The business community needs to maintain heightened vigilance when it comes to security as the threat never sleeps.
Pitney Bowes faced a malware attack in 2019, which heightened our awareness of the importance of cybersecurity. Sharing information about cyber attacks with other businesses and governments will continue to be key in fighting cybercrime, as well as educating people on the threats.
How will IT improve operational efficiency in 2021, and who should lead the charge?
Automation remains key to drive organisational efficiency, and should come from levels including CEO, CIO and line-of-business. Pitney Bowes helps organisations automate, streamline and digitise business processes including document management, mailing, shipping and tracking.
To comply with data privacy regulations, businesses and governments need watertight processes to manage, store and access customer details. Manual processes can result in errors and inefficiencies. This risk can be eliminated by implementing technologies that automate folding, inserting, document scanning and archiving. Furthermore, solutions that enable multi-channel communications — physical and digital — can increase internal efficiencies and the customer/citizen experience.
Automating processes like visitor and contractor management can also improve security and reduce risk. Digital solutions make it easier to manage people and increase administration staff productivity. Particularly during the pandemic, and beyond, it will continue to be critical to keep accurate people records (to enable contact tracing).
How can IT be more environmentally friendly, socially responsible and privacy conscious?
Pitney Bowes’ motto, ‘We do the right things the right way’, relates to everything we do: the solutions we develop, how we work and interact with customers and partners. It’s been the red thread throughout our 100 years’ history and it’s a statement that makes complete business sense.
Our CEO Marc Lautenbach has said, “Companies that have longevity take care of their clients, their employees, and their suppliers, and they also have the right relationship with their communities.” We all have to continuously work to be more socially and environmentally responsible so we can create sustainable businesses and thriving communities.
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