2021 could be a pivotal year for businesses large and small, for many reasons. But how can we turn potential upcoming challenges into opportunities and what role will tech play?
Alec Stephens, sales manager at Vapour, offers his thoughts…
1. Working from home security flaws
According to Institute of Director research, working from home is here to stay for 74% of businesses, which presents a range of recruitment, engagement and work-life balance benefits within the employment landscape.
But we estimate that in 90% of cases, organisations have overlooked the risks that remote working poses when it comes to corporate security. Colleagues may be working on their regular company device, but they are using their domestic broadband service. This means corporate data is no longer subject to the usual security protocol you’d find in the traditional workplace – instead, it could be being transmitted across a £40 router that hasn’t had a firmware upgrade or password reset for a number of years.
There are a number of options to correct this oversight, including placing an SD-WAN box – part of an SD-WAN network – on top of a company’s existing corporate MPLS infrastructure, and connecting to the home router via that. All security policies sit on the new SD-WAN box which keeps the corporate network secure even though still using the domestic broadband connection. It’s as simple as being a ‘plug and play’ solution for a nominal investment per month.
2. Fixing issues caused by legacy systems
The events of 2020 forced many businesses into undertaking digital transformation projects – at pace. Some companies will admit that their transition from legacy systems was long overdue, so Covid finally pushed them to make the change. Others were perhaps more reluctant but had no other choice if they were to survive the pressures associated with working from home.
Either way, in theory, the move to smarter cloud tech should have now supercharged these businesses and created workplaces fit for the future. But if any tech investment decisions were made during the ‘needs must’ circumstances of lockdown, for example, there is the chance that the cloud solutions chosen by some organisations may not be truly fit for purpose.
This risks shackling companies moving forward, and worse still, could put customer service, business reputation, employee performance or even company security at risk.
2021 must include some ‘reset’ time, to ensure elements of a company’s tech stack are fit for purpose, now and for the long term.
3. As the tech stack evolves, insight may drop
With colleagues and customers now communicating from more locations than ever before – and most probably using more channels and tools than they previously have – there’s a danger that comms becomes disparate.
Tech vendors have adapted quickly, meaning many calling apps can now integrate into platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom for example. But the more fragmented a company’s comms infrastructure, the greater the likelihood that business intelligence insight will drop. Data becomes harder to analyse.
Bringing multichannel comms into one ecosystem, such as Microsoft, for instance, makes it far easier to capture and explore workplace analytics. This isn’t about being ‘big brother’, it must be said! Quite the opposite.
For example, the more data a business reports on, the higher the chance that a potential customer service or employee disengagement pattern can be uncovered. And the more you measure, the more you can manage.
Employers have a duty of care to utilise this insight to support the workforce and customer base alike.
4. Getting started with automation
According to recent Gartner research, 64% of IT leaders believe unnecessary effort prevents their company from delivering a higher quality customer experience. So, given the pressures that mounted when Covid hit, now is definitely the time to rid colleagues of burdensome activities which may be restricting their ability to do their jobs.
Automation has a massive part to play in this.
Many CTOs acknowledge this, but either bite off more than they can chew when it comes to robotic process automation (RPA), or struggle to ‘sell’ the merit of RPA to the wider business given the misconceptions that exist surrounding the ‘job stealing robots’.
A recent guest blog by our friends at Robiquity uncovered some helpful advice when it comes to getting started with RPA. This included recognising the company-wide benefits of such automation, from the shop floor to the contact centre and beyond, through to creating an automation-ready mindset that encourages organisations to create a culture embracing of RPA long into the future.
5. Flexibility and elasticity
The unexpected turbulence experienced in 2020 really put many supplier-customer relationships to the test, both in terms of the scalability of platforms, and the flexibility of providers when it came to service levels, payment terms and contractual agreements.
As a result, most organisations are now seeking elasticity, adaptability and scalability, as standard. All services should offer the opportunity to flex up and down, as required, but this isn’t currently the case. A step-change may therefore be on the horizon…
Looking for more technology trends and insight? Download Vapour’s free guide – The A-Z of workplace technology.