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Fit for the Future: Three business lessons from 2021

03 Feb 2022
Fánan Henriques-alt

Fánan Henriques

Strategy and Transformation Director, Vodafone Business

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure”Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft

In the business world we often focus on what we did right, when the true lessons lie in what went wrong.

Arguably, one of the biggest lessons to have come out of the pandemic is how dependent we are on technology to work effectively and efficiently.

In fact, our Fit for the Future (FFTF) report has proven that businesses further along their digital journeys not only felt more prepared to tackle challenges that came their way, they were better prepared.

As we head into our third year of the pandemic, amongst continuing economic uncertainty, we look at what these businesses are doing differently and what changes organisations are making to stay ahead.

Technology is the ultimate tool

To remain competitive, businesses need to be agile and open to change. Technology is a crucial tool in helping them do it.

In our Fit for the Future report, 63% of businesses said that they believe technology can help them overcome their business challenges and 40% have increased their digital transformation budgets to transform their ways of working.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen organisations invest in digital capabilities to transform their operations faster than ever before, with the adoption of services like unified communications, cybersecurity, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) accelerating this.

At the same time, businesses are evolving their go-to-market, doubling down on digital demand generation, eCommerce, and data-driven inside sales. What’s clear is that many businesses now see technology as the ultimate weapon against the challenges posed by COVID-19.

While it is great to see this move towards embracing digital, there is still more to be done.

‘Fit for the future’ businesses are those organisations who are best prepared for the future. They are not just open to change and new technologies, but they are leading the charge. More than half have increased their digital transformation budgets and want to be the first to try out new technology, compared to less than a quarter of all businesses.

Working with the London School of Economics, we have discovered that being ‘fit for the future’ is also linked to a positive financial performance, showing these organisations are more likely to outperform their competitors. The adaptable attitude of these businesses is propelling them into the future and translating into greater business strength and success.

Hybrid working 2.0 and further automation is coming

 

With more employees desiring flexible working arrangements, maintaining morale, boosting productivity, and developing a remote company culture will be the focus for organisations striving to become ‘fit for the future’ in 2022.

While it’s clear that demonstrating an adaptable attitude is a key driver in FFTF firms' ability to accept change with greater speed, it’s also evident that all businesses now see the benefit in providing employees with the latest technology to boost remote working experiences.

In fact, in 2021, 65% of businesses reported that they were using collaboration applications such as RingCentral and Microsoft Teams. The next step is creating an environment where employees have a seamless and secure experience.

Having an “integrated” working environment will support even greater productivity and limit the time workers spend going between tools. Especially as research shows that 69% of employees waste up to an hour each day navigating between apps, amounting to a waste of 32 days per year.1

86% of ‘fit for the future’ businesses are also taking action to deal with an automated world, harnessing technology that will automate and improve existing processes, compared to 75% of businesses overall. “Low code” integration of processes and applications with tools such as Zapier and Automate.io are scaling to improve workflows.

Societal issues require focus

Looking at the sustainability agenda, technology can support efforts here too; from greener energy and device management, through to supply chains. Companies with supply chains operating on ‘just in time’ principles have been especially challenged during this period, with disruptions from COVID-19.

While 69% of businesses believe their customers want them to have a clear ethical stance on social and environmental issues, many have struggled to devote time to their sustainable business agenda during the pandemic, with only 29% stating sustainability as ‘absolutely necessary’ for their organisation to operate.

‘Fit for the Future’ organisations see sustainability as a bigger priority and are therefore much more in tune with customer expectations. In addition, 51% are set to increase their spend on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the next year.

With customers becoming increasingly focused on ESG, businesses who can show they’re leading the way in this space will ultimately boost business performance and improve their credibility on issues that will only become more urgent in the years to come.

Start your journey now

After two years of disruption, businesses are seeing greater value in being prepared for the future, whether this be through the latest technology tools, new ways of working, automation or their sustainability agendas.

No matter your business’ size or profit margin, by prioritising strategic planning, you too can become ‘fit for the future’.

1 https://www.ringcentral.co.uk/whyringcentral/company/pressreleases/pressreleases-2018/report_app_overload_is_creating_chaos_at_work_and_costing_businesses_billions.html

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