COVID-19 has been one of the most defining moments in our lifetimes that has disrupted our lives and lifestyles. People across the globe have been affected and the ramifications of this will be far and wide. And I am not talking about the re-alignment of the country strategies, debates on insourcing vs. outsourcing or holding countries/ political leadership on what more they should have done. That is a discussion for some other day.
The impact that COVID-19 has caused on digital enablement across all fields of life has been at an unprecedented scale. As governments enforced lockdowns to curb the spread of the deadly virus, work from home became the new normal for many businesses.
Organizations that never believed that their critical and confidential work could be delivered by an analyst sitting millions of miles away in his home, suddenly agreed to grant approvals for the same. Schools and colleges are conducting online classes to complete their syllabus; social distancing is the new norm in grocery stores and E-commerce companies are making COVID-safe deliveries to their customers.
In this new reality, technology offers a variety of solutions to overcome some of the challenges thrown up by the pandemic. This article is the first one in a series of articles which talk about how technology components solve the problem of connect, deliver, review and resolve for people who do work from home. The theme is also centred on four stages of evolution of work from home. The stage one was to respond to the challenge, the stage two was to steady the new paradigm of delivery, the third stage was to build on the foundation laid in the first two stages and the fourth stage was growth in the new world. These stages might be the equivalent of the DuPont Bradley Curve for work from home.
The below diagram captures the components of technology, people and compliance that come into play in the new work from home scenario.
In the future series, we will discuss each of these components and talk about what options are available to each organization to leverage these six pillars to improve the user experience, improve the organization’s security posture and improve client confidence in delivery.
The other thing that we will touch upon in the future series is the evolution of work from home. The below figure captures these stages which started by responding to the pandemic to leveraging the long term strategy of growth during this time of new normal.
The respond stage focussed on employee safety, engaging all partners and infrastructure teams working extra hard to provision laptops/ desktops. The infrastructure teams also worked on setting up secure VPNs or building VDIs for employees to access their profiles, applications and data.
The steady stage focussed on communication to employees and clients on the new normal and how we are adapting to this world. This period is also used by internal infrastructure teams to ramp up support, the knowledge management teams to start working on capability development and the information security teams to re-assess the security posture.
The build stage is focussed on ramping up corporate infrastructure from the steady stage. This is the time when clients and partners start sharing best practices with the organization. You identify what are the gaps from technology investments and start planning for those. This stage also strengthens the fact that all processes, including all employee and new hire touchpoints, move to the virtual model.
The last stage in this evolution process is called the growth stage. This is where all the strategic investments in cloud infrastructure help organizations respond well and faster in changing times. We should remember that this is not the last BCP event for us and hence the investments should be made keeping scale in mind. The investments in AI and Analytics have become even more critical in this last stage. Revenue modelling, cost modelling, performance analytics, risk modelling are just some examples of things that were critical and remain critical. Customer experience for delivery remains critical more so when you cannot sit across the table and review the work delivered or discuss new opportunities. Enterprises will need to re-imagine entire customer journeys, build new capabilities, intelligently automate lower value tasks, and improve the customer experience digitally
Sanjay Kukreja is a technology leader and CTO of a leading KPO based in Mumbai, India.