2021 Working Challenges3rd Nov 2020
We can all agree that it's been a strange old year, with much sadness and some hardship, but looking for the positives amongst the gloom there are some business structural changes that have become more apparent, which can offer us all opportunities.
- IT automation
- Data Analytics
- Demographic changes
- Working from home
- Hyper-connected world
We’ve been on the path to automation for some time, the talk of the robots taking over the world is a simplified narrative, but we have seen increasing automation in many areas of business and the pandemic has speeded that up.
Obviously there are some that will fear this advance and see the negative impact it will have on jobs. This concern is inevitable. But there is no stopping this juggernaut so we must embrace it.
For business, the opportunities for better automation are clear:
- Quicker response to our customers
- Fewer errors
- Better efficiency/productivity
- A competitive edge on our competitors
Leveraging all of this requires a need for a properly designed IT infrastructure… and guess what? That is where we fit in.
The other big change we have seen in the last few years is the use of Big Data. In simple terms this means better utilising the data we have around us and making informed decisions (whether human or AI) about what is happening and evolving based on the information.
Leveraging that becomes more critical in our ever-changing world.
A couple of simple examples:
- Self-driving cars need to make a lot of decisions about external factors (weather, speed, condition of road, noise, light, proximity of other vehicles, people, regulations) to make those decisions super-fast.
This needs a hyper-connected, high performance, resilient, standards-based infrastructure to allow these items to talk to the back-end systems that will ultimately make the decisions.
- Bricks and mortar retailers generally don’t understand who is inside their store (their demographic, their shopping patterns, their loyalty) or how people traverse the retail space.
Having this information can help retailers evolve, which again once we come out of Covid (and yes, we will... eventually), will need to happen for them to stay relevant and focused on what works for shoppers.
Gathering this analytic information is not as complicated as it may seem as it can utilise the existing systems in place, such as WiFi, Bluetooth and 4/5G. Interpreting it and making positive decisions is where the real skills lie.
Let us help you with understanding how analytics can help your business.
We need to be aware that how the individual generations interact with the world around us is very different and this can drive some different business dynamics. These are some wild generalisations about the generations as there are always differences in every section of society but it’s about the general point.
- Baby Boomers (Born Post War) – Have learnt to adopt technology but aren’t so innovative in how they use it
- Generation X – The first generation who grew up with computers but as my son says (I’m a Gen X’er) those computers were rubbish dad… he really doesn't appreciate my ZX81, but we have been the Generation that has accepted change and to a certain extent have driven it.
- Generation Y… better known as Millennials – Get a bit of a bad press (generally from the Gen X and Boomers) but they grew up in an Internet and Social Media world and are now the true innovators of technology. They bring fresh ideas and different expectations to the market.
- Generation Z (Digital Natives) – Live in an always-on world where the media experience is fast and on-demand and WiFi is everywhere.
Designing our IT systems needs to focus more on the expectations of the Gen Y and Z’ers as they have high expectations of what good looks like… and quite importantly, they are not backward at shouting when they are left unfulfilled.
This comes back to that central point of a high performance, resilient infrastructure that is the enabler.
Working From Home
The one thing we can all agree on is that the pandemic has dramatically changed the way office workers work. Although working from home was part of our lives before, for most people it was a rarity.
And my, did Covid change all that or what?! 😊
Previously the concern was that employees were out of sight, out of mind and couldn’t be trusted to work from home.
The way we work has shifted massively in the last few months and this change looks to be permanent, so we need to adapt.
The move to a decentralised work system, where staff may come to smaller office hubs rather than a large city HQ also seems to be underway.
The removal of the commute has provided the advantage of a better work/life balance which people may be reluctant to hand back.
So we coped… so nothing to worry about... no. We coped for sure but making sure that this paradigm shift is sustainable is now the important task.
We need to ensure workers have the right performance and quite crucially the right security in place to enable them to be as productive and secure at home as they are when at the office.
Things to consider:
- Secure transit of data
- Ease of use/setup to work at home
- The use of employee-owned devices (BYOD anyone?)
- Segmentation of personal and company data
- Reducing IT admin burden
All of these items are key to enabling your business to be efficient, we have solutions that fit the bill (and are not a clunky software VPN) and are just as flexible and secure.
Sounds like a mouthful…
…but what it means is the ‘always on’ world that we have become used to, but upscaled by a factor of ten.
We’ve all heard the hype about the fridge that tracks what you take out if it so you can replenish it via Internet shopping, but its really yet to be a reality in our everyday lives… but with the way, we may be forced to shop and live the need for the Internet of Things (IoT)/Hyper-Connected World is accelerating at pace.
Why, you ask?
Good question. It goes back to IT Automation mentioned above. There are ways we can improve our working lives by removing some of the repetitive, time-consuming, and often dull tasks. The aim (as ever) is to provide us with time where we can either be more productive (in life or work) or have more ‘me’ time.
We still operate in a very analogue way in many instances but if we can have the world around us reporting back on what it senses then we are able to make better and faster decisions.
In business, this may be small IP connected temperature, humidity, date stamped sensors that can track perishable goods or maybe systems in warehouses that live track the status of goods so that goods in/outflow can be better mapped to demand.
These are just a couple of simple examples but the list is endless, it just needs our imaginations to fill in the gaps.
As these systems start to ratchet up, the data coupled with the desire for the younger generations to always be connected, the network systems we have in place need to evolve to ensure they are scalable, high performance, resilient and secure… and that is where we come in.
Thanks for reading…. if you made it this far 😊
If any of the above interests you or if you have your own thoughts on the specific challenges that face us in the fast-moving 2020s, then reach out to us, let's talk.