One Year On: Embracing Digital Change In Our Post-Pandemic World
One year on, which pandemic-induced tech trends are bearing out? How is this impacting digital agendas and the way we work? What’s next?
Eileen Burbidge MBE, Partner at Passion Capital, HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech, and Jack Smith, Director of Digital at British Airways, joined AND Digital’s Club Executive, Wendy Stonefield, to share their insights on our digital future in the post-pandemic world.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the key takeaways, highlighting how you can forge the right digital path - you can also watch some recordings from the event.
Burbidge kicked off the session by comparing the pre- and post-pandemic world, highlighting how many of the trends - both digital and non-digital - were accelerated in the last year and already on the agenda of most businesses.
She highlighted five key areas that, following on from the disruption of Covid-19, offer businesses a way to improve their future of work and stand out from the crowd.
Over the last 12 months, collaboration has been vital to deliver results during the pandemic. “It’s been an all-hands-on-deck effort, one that you can even see with the government response, for example. Getting vaccines to all of us couldn’t have been done without public-private sector collaboration,” Burbidge explained.
But effective cross-organisational collaboration is “not just about technology,” according to Smith, “it’s about understanding human behaviour, understanding how we can operate differently and how we can employ technology to support that.
Moving forward, the lines between digital and non-digital change will blur as technology becomes an intrinsic part of every business – whether that business is technical or not.
Covid-19 made wellness a priority. Teams now need to feel supported – especially remote teams – with respect to their mental health and self-care.
Many people may not necessarily be able to compartmentalise their working and non-working responsibilities, for example. “Whether that's at home, whether it's with extended family, whether that's for themselves, and I think everything started to blend into one because everyone's now working from home,” Burbidge explained.
To combat this issue, “employers and organisations are now committing to and investing in wellness and tools for their workforces,” Burbidge added.
Skills and talent
Investment is needed to grow tech skills across the board – with an emphasis on problem-solving and analytical skills - not just teaching kids to code.
Attracting both international and home-grown talent is important to address the digital skills gaps, according to Burbidge.
Non-tech employees also need support to build their technical awareness now, to help them adapt to any increasingly digital future.
Diversity and inclusion
Social movements have shown us how the most considered decisions come from diverse points of view and perspectives. Diverse stakeholders/opinions are also more representative of your customer bases.
Diversity and inclusion is no longer a tick box, or a nice to have. The best and considered decisions come from diverse thought, according to the panel.
Consumers are now picking brands based on their values, as opposed to just factoring in the cost of a product or service. To demonstrate your values, transparency and accountability are key.
Your values are also another market differentiator to help you attract and retain the best talent.
Digitisation is not a separate entity
Despite the financial difficulties facing many organisations, digitisation remained a priority during the pandemic.
AND’s clients don’t see digital change as a cost saving exercise anymore – it is now seen as a “core, fundamental way” to help businesses “survive and thrive,” according to Stonefield.
Burbidge echoed this sentiment “One ripple effect or outcome of all this is there isn’t a separate digital strategy anymore.”
Forget fast, embrace real change
Many businesses assume digitisation means doing the same things, faster.
But now you need to “fundamentally change your operating model,” according to Smith. Developers also need to keep pace, changing their skills and ways of working for the changing digital world.
Failure is OK, for now
During the pandemic, “collective patience” was seen with many consumers and businesses, according to Burbidge, as businesses digitised and pivoted their business models.
But this will change – and people will start to demand and expect increasingly frictionless digital experiences that streamline the entire customer journey.
Hybrid future of work
The 9-to-5 is now a thing of the past, with many organisations embracing a hybrid way of working. At AND Digital, we recently formalised a blended working policy - where staff can split their time between their home, our offices, client offices and shared spaces, like coworking spaces, to provide staff with a change of scenery.
Organisations must also continue to pivot their wider business models. Small businesses have the agility to achieve this, facing less complexity than large corporations.
However, the pandemic taught corporations the value of focusing on developing and deploying specific digital solutions, instead of taking a scattergun approach. Post-pandemic, companies should retain this focus on developing several, key digital solutions to help them compete, going forward.
Today’s digital talent wants the full package. Salary is not the priority for many people now in our post-pandemic world - highlight your values and wider benefits package.
Remote, international workforces are not possible… yet. We have to consider the emotional, legal and practical elements of introducing globally distributed, remote teams. But businesses must now prepare to work remotely on an international stage, in the future.
Innovation won’t stop. Edtech, wellness apps and money management are top topics going forward. More innovation will come as people move away from their corporate roles and use technology to drive further change in the post-pandemic world.