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Business Growth in 2021 – where caution meets innovation

By Mark Skelton, CANCOM UK&I CTO

In order to navigate the troubled waters of 2020, many companies were forced to invest in remote working technology, cloud adoption and the provision of online services. It was vital to prioritise technology innovation. However, 2021 brings a range of new challenges, including the ongoing pandemic and repercussions of the Brexit deal. Businesses must now look beyond merely surviving and focus on continued IT optimisation and strengthened defences against evolving cyber threats, as well as ensuring that digital transformation efforts reflect the ever-changing parameters of the modern workplace.

IT advancements are at the centra of business growth, but a cautious approach to growth and defence is key. So, how can businesses navigate the year ahead while continuing business operations?

Embrace a hybrid workplace

The mass surge to remote working has ultimately created new priorities for CIOs. Organisations now must make the office a more appealing place to work in order to attract the best talent, given the new lure and ease of remote working.

The rapid move to remote working in early 2020 led to many IT investments being rushed, where IT projects were rushed, long-term solutions were overlooked, and short-term fixes were prioritised. Throughout the course of 2021, the successful businesses will be those that take a more considered approach towards digital transformation.

Throughout the next year, we can expect to see a shift to a hybrid business model that will accommodate both physical and remote working. It is not enough to simply have the tech available for remote working; this tech must be evaluated to ensure it is truly the right investment for your business, and the people working in it. Optimising remote collaboration and providing the tech that enables this to be a seamless process will be key to success.

Prepare to tackle the skills gap

The pandemic has exposed a lack of expertise in the market and the need to adapt – and quickly. Compounding the rapid evolution of various digital platforms, and their increased adoption, is also the need to consider changes to markets, sectors, consumer habits, client demands, budget limitations and customer relationships.

As a result of the inherent risks, and organisations’ revised financing models after a tough year, many are realising they can cover the costs of external services, such as flexible resourcing, much more efficiently than hiring permanent employees.

The process of flexible resourcing includes hiring the number of people and the skills you need at isolated intervals, for specific projects or, individual strategies. Consequently, pinpointing the requisite level of skill and expertise for that siloed purpose increases the likelihood of a successful outcome, in a more cost-effective way that doesn’t weigh down payroll long-term.

What’s more, we don’t know what is around the corner. It’s impossible to accurately predict what’s going to come, which is flexible resourcing comes into its own. It enables businesses to scale up and down resourcing accordingly as business performance and needs change.

Harness the power behind behavioural analytics

Remote working was unchartered territory for many workers and companies at the beginning of 2020. As we continue into 2021, many people will be used to working from home, and some businesses have been analysing behavioural patterns in order to understand employee activity to help ensure remote working is enjoyable and sustainable for everyone. Tracking and maintaining social distancing have become the norm, and workplace analytics are key to doing this successfully.

Such analytics have helped improve safety within office environments by enabling the enforcement of social distancing rules in meeting room environments. The insights that are unlocked by this technology will be invaluable in 2021, as they also provide businesses with insights into employee working patterns. When these tools are combined with data sources, such as networks and meeting room devices, they provide business leaders with an all-important overview of employee engagement.

Be proactive when thinking about cybersecurity

In a recent survey, an increase in fraudulent emails, phishing attempts and spam to their corporate email since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Employees who were working remotely were left more vulnerable and at risk.

Businesses were not prepared for the safety issues associated with remote working, even though 88% of IT leaders made changes to their cybersecurity protocols. This highlights that while it is important to embrace enhanced connectivity, it is also crucial to rectify any mistakes that were made in 2020 to provide a safe working environment for employees. This year, investing in automation and AI-driven security products will help businesses gain control over the ever-changing threat landscape.

Prioritise foresight

Survival in 2020 was a struggle, and as we venture further into 2021, businesses must learn from the past 12 months and translate those learnings into appropriate action. It’s unlikely that budgets will increase hugely after the struggle of last year, and CIOs must overcome this challenge by optimising fully the investments that they have made throughout 2020. Doing so will enable companies to capitalise on the appetite for change that the pandemic has created.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by CANCOM .

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