Whew! 2020 has been quite an adventure (to say the least!). Fortunately, we have made it to the end, probably not completely unscathed, but in one piece to some degree. That means it's time for some introspection. The events of 2020 tested the limits of businesses and organisations especially as life seemingly ground to a halt in the first quarter of the year.
Even though we now see a light at the end of the tunnel with the Covid19 vaccine, businesses have to remain vigilant in order to be able to parry any blows 2021 may send their way. How businesses operate will never be the same, and in this new year the focus has got to be on restructuring to be able to thrive in this new 2021 world. Looking back at 2020 we have learned a lot. Here are 4 essential lessons 2020 taught us, that businesses should definitely take with them into 2021.
Remember right around March when it seemed like the whole world came to a screeching halt? Everyone was confined to their homes. Businesses had to close. And only the most essential services continued to operate. It came as a shock to us all and it definitely took some adjusting to. Many businesses incurred significant losses due to this disruption. Whether it is a pandemic, a cyber attack or a system upgrade that went wrong, being down for any time is no longer acceptable. The term "always on" is not an fantasy concept that can't be achieved. It is infact very achieveable and more so a demand by consumers today. You cannot afford the downtime, the world will keep chugging along and if you don’t put the right measures in place, it will move on without you. Take the time in 2021 to explore how to achieve IT Resilience, that is where your business is able to withstand disruptions, planned or unplanned, and still continue to function.
Covid-19 came as a shock to us all. Despite the time it took to get to our side of the world, many businesses were still wholly unprepared when it struck. The pandemic forced a lot of businesses onto the path of digital transformation....and others to accelerate their journey. Companies who were already on the path to digital transformation were able to easily make the requisite structural changes and therefore rebounded far quicker than those who were immature in their digital transformation. This speaks to operational agility, where businesses can quickly pivot and respond to deviations from the norm while gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage. This business agility is achievable only through digital transformation. Digitally immature companies are going to be challenged in this new world.
With added online interactions came the issue of cybersecurity. Businesses also had to rethink the way in which they secured their data. Users are now out in the wild of the internet and no longer safely behind corporate firewalls. This has left companies susceptible to aggressive cyber threats which have skyrocketed over the course of the year. Going into the new year and beyond businesses must reconceptualize the idea of security. Is it on premises? Is it the cloud? Is it a hybrid? Jamaica recently passed a Data Protection Act similar to the GDPR in Europe. As online interactions increase, companies need to now ensure that personal data is secure and handled according to the law. Threats will evolve but so must the approaches used to tackle them. Companies need to think outside the box of traditional data security, securing users wherever they go and on whatever device they are on. It can be done.
The words Work from Anywhere were the buzzwords of 2020. In the blink of an eye, work was no longer somewhere you went but something you did. With the majority of us being confined to our homes for obscene amounts of time, the challenge at the beginning of the year was to figure out how to maintain productivity despite the distance. That’s where technology came into play as collaborative software such as Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and ShareSync became the holy grail. Despite the novelty of the situation, it seems to be going well as Forbes reported that there had been a 47% increase in worker productivity in the period March to May. Will this meteoric rise continue even after the pandemic? It could be so. Going forward into 2021, businesses should seek to maintain the flexibility provided by the various technology solutions that increases a company's responsiveness to environmental changes while still optimising its productivity.
Overall, 2020 taught us that change is constant. Now more than ever, these changes are occurring at an unprecedented pace. If you thought the future of business was digital before, the new health guidelines which have become standard in 2020, have made this even more so. In the race to stay ahead of the competition IT resilience, operational agility and cybersecurity are key. Are we going use infrastructure investment to support the old paradigm or will we invest in this new world? Don’t let 2021 catch your business dragging its feet.