David Rosen, Technology and Account Manager at TIBCO, explains how companies can prepare their technology infrastructure for the age of uncertainty
Organizations need to be prepared for further twists and turns and be able to adapt accordingly.
I’ll avoid the dreaded phrase “the new normal,” but it’s only natural that we should drown in thoughts of what could happen when COVID finally recedes. At this point I would like to suggest a different approach to thinking about it through the lens of our cultural and scientific history, and adding some more thoughts on how we begin to think about what the world might be like, along with implications for harnessing the technological Infrastructure.
It can be helpful to think about it by thinking about other major change events and movements. “Nothing is as stable as change,” said Bob Dylan, and of course he was right. At regular intervals we go through groundbreaking moments of discovery or turning points, large and small, and after that nothing is as it was.
In 19th century science, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species reformulated the way we think about evolution and belief. In the 20th century, modernism saw new approaches in literature, painting, music, architecture and design, with a focus on the non-traditional, abstract and non-linear from Picasso and Stravinsky to Le Corbusier and James Joyce in a way that was shocking at the time.
All these moments and movements have freshly painted the world. We may be at a similar crossroads due to COVID. It is at least questionable that the pandemic will act as a catalyst for new ways of living, changing aspirations, and a rejection of what has been the consensus of wisdom for decades. I’m talking about the 9-to-5 office culture, the assumption that most of us want to remain as knowledge workers, own durable consumer goods, live in metropolitan areas and refine ourselves for 50 years to create enough disposable income to to be able to eat and live free time
Let me outline a few possible scenarios.
We have a new focus on home and family life. Most of us spend more time at home with family and that has changed our habits. The sale of baked goods was up increased by 24%, were Gardening more than ever, we’re back to a Fascination for handicrafts, and we’re finally at that DIY and decorate We had promised ourselves that for a long time. Have we got used to the minor life and will we be permanently less sociable, resulting in a smaller leisure, travel and hospitality sector? In this world, pubs and restaurants are closing their doors and selling their premises while airlines and hotel operators struggle with reduced demand, making their sectors unprofitable.
Well-being is becoming the new currency for a successful life. We have certainly seen an increase in awareness of the past year Mental health and awareness of the fragility of human psychology. Will this be reflected in a more caring culture of sharing, where success is measured on softer measures than sales and profitability, or where products are rented rather than bought? Here, companies urgently need to rethink their Human Capital Management (HCM) policy and give up traditional remuneration models, working hours and opportunities to motivate and retain employees.
Sustainability is becoming the new critical KPI. The pandemic was probably caused by a lack of respect for the principles of the sustainability. It is likely that this will lead to a new attitude towards animal welfare and even more awareness of carbon consumption. Certainly, companies are becoming increasingly aware of what happens to their reputation and hiring ability when they fail to show green credentials or other signs that they are not pure money makers. In this world, Generations Y and Z forensically investigate the ethics of potential employers and will not work for the well-known companies that are now struggling with their toxic brands.
A Guide to Responsible Technology Practices
As I said, it is by no means clear what will happen next and how profound changes will be. It is of course plausible that we are largely returning to old habits, although this seems unlikely as employees have got used to a different way of life and work. And it’s worth noting that even the evidence of a return to ancient ways of life in the form of crafts, baking, etc., is now heavily digitalized activities. We download apps, consult websites, and share ideas on forums when we’re trying a new recipe, and this type of binary activity is part of life because it’s faster, more convenient, and more scalable than the older alternatives. What we need to do, however, is strike the perfect balance between technology-powered agility and what we want to do with our time.
What we have to cope with through change is clear, however. Adaptivity, made possible by robust, data-centric digital business designs, is becoming the buzzword of the company. In other words, companies must be able to move quickly in any event, change operating models, move into adjacent markets, and generally not take anything for granted. In the new age of uncertainty, legacy systems need to be reevaluated in terms of how best to build them for agility. Isolated organizations need to unite around a common source of data truth in order to make safe decisions. Technology investments themselves must take into account the possibility of peaks and troughs in demand in order to control costs and maintain competitiveness. The pace of innovation will accelerate for managers. “Thin wants to be in” and companies that know how to quickly prototype and improve minimally practical solutions will be successful.
Even before this coronavirus, we saw some seismic changes caused by globalization and the rise of trillion dollar internet superpowers. Are we ready for companies that cross markets and conquer them through technical superiority, a la Amazon? And what will you do if any of them target your industry?
As history has shown, we cannot know the future, but we can prepare for new tremors, U-turns, and surprising changes in direction. We can only develop further and be successful if we anticipate as much as possible and then adapt to changes flexibly, creatively and optimally.