WFH (work from home) may not necessarily be a completely new phenomenon, however, the COVID-19 pandemic took it to another level entirely.
A survey revealed that 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time, while 61% of employees prefer being fully remote.
The norm was for business functions to be carried out in a physical workspace; employees were expected to report to the office; that was the tradition and the culture; it was even tagged “the 9 to 5” in most countries. It’s now the dawn of a new norm, that is being propelled by digital transformation.
Instead of commuting from home to the physical workspace, employees are telecommuting from home. Business processes can now leverage the more highly complex and improved software capabilities.
The announcement by Zoom of the acquisition of Five9 for $14.7bn and the statement from Eric Yuan that the deal would allow its customers to “reimagine the way they do business,” is an indicator that even though governments are relaxing their restrictions, remote work is not going away very soon.
Organizations never thought this can be possible, but that is the reality on the ground. WFH can just be as efficient as a physical workspace. While we may not have a 100% WFH as the survey results have indicated, it can never be business as usual. We are bound to have a lot of telecommuting and a high degree of mobile working.
What we may have is a hybrid; a flexible way of working, but making this permanent will mean that businesses must re-evaluate their efforts at digital transformations.
What is the need for digital transformation?
Before the coronavirus pandemic, digital transformation was going on, but maybe at a slow pace. As things stand today, a lot of organizations have seen the need for digital transformation; the situation got very interesting when 77.3% of Fortune 500 CIOs declared that the top priority in their budgets is digital transformation.
There has always been the need for digital transformation at least to improve customer experience; organizations were, however, kick-started into how crucial it is to their survival and relevance by COVID-19. Everything was not in place for a perfect digital transformation, and this led to the swift creation of digital platforms.
Even if not to really satisfy customers, the WFH model deemed it necessary that drastic steps must be taken. Where you may not want to improve customer experience, the lockdowns ensured you must digitally transform business processes to remain in the market.
Disruptions usually create gaps, and the lesson from COVID-19 has made it imperative that businesses should not sideline necessary measures for improvement. There was a glaring need for digital transformation, but organizations had to buckle up and move at a faster pace when WFH became unavoidable.
As of August 2020, Yelp reported that 60% of businesses closed and won’t reopen. The only reason that created this highly unfortunate incident is the lack of digital plans and the inability to quickly adopt one.
The worst-hit and maybe understandably so were restaurants; since there can never be a vacuum and the demand is still very much there, digital-first cloud kitchen concepts are quickly replacing them.
COVID-19 was an eye-opener to the global lag in business processes; the general belief was that the world economy would completely crumble. Fortunately, organizations accelerated their digitalization efforts.
Mobile working tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom were highly deployed to fill in the gap needed for the WFH model.
At the onset of the pandemic and as governments started to see the need for lockdowns and other restrictions, businesses felt it would end with just acquiring some computing devices. Applications, software, and security tools were also in great demand, but the WFH model needed more than that.
It became imperative that we must shift towards the cloud to empower the remote workforce. WFH means that large volumes of data must constantly be in transit; what we can see now is a mammoth growth of data, and to handle this, the need for cloud-around edge computing and new data outside traditional data centers arose.
As WFH has made it necessary that more data must be generated outside the norm that business operations were used to, there is also the need to compute this data on the edge or outside as well. Also, going by the projection that the number of devices connected to the internet is estimated to be over 75 billion by 2025, something has to be done to close the gap between edge and cloud.
Fortunately, the pandemic and WFH models are ensuring that some degree of artificial intelligence and analytics have to be introduced into the traditional data centers and cloud infrastructures. Digital transformation has enhanced the move towards as-a-service or pay-as-you-go delivery models, which suits WFH.
Looking at cybersecurity as the second factor, CIOs believe is of immense concern in their budgets, the cloud is an opportunity to secure WFH models. The funds and technology needed to secure on-premise infrastructure will no longer be tied down and can now be refocused on other important areas.
Cloud ensures that data and its protection are components of the infrastructure solutions now. You don’t need special security for your WFH models, since it’s now built into the workforce transformation solutions as well.
You will be handling large volumes of customers’ data, it’s, therefore, imperative that you look for the right measures to manage and secure the data. Cloud has come into digital transformation to help in securing data generated from WFH models.
It has become highly necessary that businesses must digitally transform to ensure relevance in the WFH model, but ensuring this is not an easy endeavor; there is the need, therefore, for strategic planning. To strategically implement new technologies, software systems, overhauling organizational structure, and revamping legacy systems, you need a digital strategy that aims at scaled maximization of the business processes and objectives.
WFH is a roller coaster, digital transformation oils the wheels, and digital strategy is the blueprint that will ensure that supply chain, product fulfillment, employee onboarding, customer experience, relationship nurturing, CRM, and internal collaboration are all efficient.
Digital strategy enhances transitioning from reactiveness to proactiveness, which will enable you to do things differently, and that is why WFH can effectively work. Disrupting the status quo is digital transformation.
The major lesson organizations have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to be in tune with digital transformation. WFH is riding the wave of gains that were made, but that is not enough, since some organizations suffered varying degrees of loss, while businesses had to completely shut down for not being able to adopt the WFH model.
The hope is that the business world will be ready if there is any form of disruption in the future.