It’s one thing for companies to recognise that they need to redefine the way they do business to succeed in an age of disruption. It’s another thing entirely to understand how to achieve that depth of transformation.
So how do companies get started on this journey? How must they change their ways of working? And how can they become more digitally mature and future ready?
These are the questions that businesses were asked as part of a recent report by Vodafone Business, which sets out to discover which businesses are best prepared for the future, and what those businesses are doing differently to the rest.
The report shares with us the six common characteristics of a ‘future ready’ business (FRB). A positive attitude to change, being open to new technology, adaptability – these are three of the six traits that help these businesses succeed, despite the disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What caught my attention, as one of the most important differentiators, is that FRBs have seen the crisis as a natural time to experiment with new ways of working and have made broader, smarter investments in new technology.
FRBs show us that opportunities can be unlocked during times of disruption, which is why understanding what makes them better equipped not only to survive, but thrive, is crucial.
Now sharing our follow-up report, which focuses on South African businesses, we share three key areas that bear scrutiny and have yielded valuable insights: digital transformation, resilience, and returning to work after lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the ultimate catalyst for digital transformation. Adopting and adapting to digital is essential if businesses are to remain not only competitive, but relevant within their industry.
Today, FRB’s are recognising that societal attitudes and customer expectations of the brands they choose to support have changed. 70% of businesses ranked customers as the most powerful and influential group, ahead of ‘people on social media’ in second place and businesses in third.
To meet customers’ expectations, more than half of FRBs are likely to seek data-driven insights to enhance their customer experiences and gain a greater understanding of consumers’ opinions of the brand.
Customers are also looking to express their individuality and social values through the goods and services they buy. FRBs are reacting to this trend, with 74% focusing on ethical behaviours or building their purpose beyond their core offering.
Unsurprisingly, companies that had embraced future of work practices and new technology before the COVID-19 pandemic have been well-positioned to sustain their business operations and continue to meet new customer demands while navigating the current crisis.
These organisations are investing heavily in new solutions like cloud storage to improve their cybersecurity systems, and new software or hardware designed to support employees to work flexibly and remotely.
Investment in the African tech space will continue to grow and at the current rate of development it won’t be too long before we are talking about it breaching the €800 million (R15 billion) mark.
Beyond the headline numbers, however, it is exciting to see the growth in particular markets and verticals as investors diversify and expand their interests on the continent.
Accommodating and managing the modern workforce has never been a greater challenge for businesses. Throughout 2020, FRBs were far more likely to help those around them and focused on the health and wellbeing of their employees.
New ways of working have also been adopted by FRBs, with flexible working hours the most widely adopted action. 71% of FRBs are moving towards a ‘connected working environment’ and they are taking advantage of the latest collaboration software available to get work done.
This strategy or working model is also being used to combat skills shortages and expand talent pools, as flexibility is seen as a useful way to attract prospective employees aged 24 or under.
As we continue to adapt to new ways of working amongst an ongoing global pandemic, 2021 will likely be a year full of major transitions as business and social trends continue to accelerate this year and beyond. These trends present opportunities for growth if companies can quickly address concerns of the now, while also focusing on preparing for an uncertain future.
Adopting and adapting to digital is more important now than ever before.
Preparing for and supporting tomorrow’s workforce through tech-enabled structures will be key for all businesses. With such a range of challenges already confronting businesses this year, the need for more all-encompassing business continuity planning and strategy development has become vital.
Read the full report to find out more.
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