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Seeing the crisis as an opportunity

How a pandemic is accelerating digitalisation

The COVID-19 coronavirus crisis has mercilessly laid bare any shortcomings in companies’ digital transformation, as they have been confronted with the challenge of enabling mobile workplaces from one day to the next. They can now see what more needs to be done.

The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has presented IT managers and CEOs with the challenge of having to make mobile workplaces and the appropriate infrastructure available to their employees almost overnight. Some companies were better prepared for this than others, and quite a few had had no experience at all with mobile working until now. There were no laptops or mobile phones for employees to use, and certainly no digital platforms to allow employees to communicate, collaborate, and securely access data remotely.

What’s more, employees who would regularly stand at the copier suddenly had to deal with a completely new working environment involving digital communication platforms and business processes.

But being thrown in at the deep end like this also has its benefits, as the speed of digitalisation has been given a boost.

The crisis has shown that investment in digitalisation is essential

If there is a positive to be taken from the coronavirus crisis, it is the acceleration of the digital transformation. Companies that had already invested in digital workplaces in the past were able to react quickly and confidently to the crisis. Everyone else had to improvise and acquire mobile devices at short notice, which was not easy in light of supply bottlenecks and rising prices. One of the lessons to be learned from the crisis is that no one can avoid digitalisation; the digital workplace is an important and necessary investment if digital transformation is to be delivered. Now it is up to companies to review their improvised measures and, where necessary, to correct and optimise them to bring them in line with a future-proof and sustainable digitalisation strategy.

DEFINING LONG-TERM GOALS

When faced with an economic crisis and low growth rates, cost-cutting measures may seem a more obvious option than spending, but investment in digital workplaces can pay off through the hardware and rising productivity alone, as has already been proven in numerous studies.

The first step is to define the long-term goal:

"The question that companies should now be asking themselves is this: Where do we need to invest in IT if we want to allow our employees to work productively from anywhere and at any time, while providing access to all relevant data and integrating all business processes?"

Stephen Kerr, Vice President Sales at CHG-MERIDIAN ANZ

Do not cut corners – invest in hardware as soon as possible

There is more to the digital workplace than hardware of course, but it simply cannot function without it. It would be a mistake to opt for lower performance for the sake of saving money, especially when you put the figures into context. An investment of around $2,500 per employee is perfectly justified in view of the productivity gains and the benefits for the company. The crisis has clearly shown this. Companies that had already spent money on their employees’ hardware before the coronavirus outbreak are now seeing this investment pay off.

Mobile working requires a suitable platform for digital collaboration

The best hardware will be of little use if there is no suitable digital infrastructure behind it, such as automated processes, an appropriate application platform, and the right collaboration tools. Employees must be able to securely access data and services remotely.

This type of platform has numerous benefits. Not only does it simplify mobile working and communications, it also ensures that end devices can be easily replaced or exchanged. Because when the platform is right, work no longer depends on individual end devices, and these can be flexibly exchanged without causing downtime. Employees can access the platform from both their smartphone and their laptop, and the data is available from all devices. Avoiding downtime and delays is not only convenient and practical, it also saves costs, which is why you should take care to select the right platform.

Fostering employee buy-in

Change can be a hassle, and having to get used to digital working methods can be a huge challenge for many employees. They have to familiarise themselves with a new digital environment: video calls instead of meeting rooms, online events, and organization via social networks. This is new territory for many, and it takes time to get used to it. Which is why it is all the more important to get the employees on board as early as possible.

Because a long-term, cost-optimised digital workplace plan consists of three essential building blocks: the right hardware, a suitable platform, and the digital mindset of the workforce.

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