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COVID-19 has proven to be a major catalyst of rapid change for many organizations. It highlighted the value of investments in digital transformation early on (for those that did), while triggering a frenzy of activity for the majority of companies lagging behind (just ask the 78%, according to the World Economic Forum, that lacked the infrastructure to support mass remote working). Along the way, it has revealed the full extent to which organizational agility can be either unleashed, or like us, locked down by the digital strategies that are in place.
What can companies do to improve on that alignment?
Here I lay out a framework for doing just that. I hope that it helps you think through your own priorities, no matter where your organization stands in its digital transformation journey -- and understand where it needs to go next.
No. 1 priority: Ongoing digital transformation
Many companies pivoted and shifted admirably when the virus first hit, in some cases even demonstrating a level of agility they didn't even know they had. That said, from what we are hearing, most companies still have room for improvement.
In fact, three stats from a recent AppDynamics study really jumped out at me:
- Since the onset of COVID-19, nearly two thirds of IT staff members say they're being held accountable for tasks and activities they've never done before.
- Another 65% report having implemented digital transformation projects during the pandemic that were previously dismissed as "unnecessary."
- Meanwhile, 59% admit that a lot of their time right now goes to firefighting and creating short-term fixes.
I don't know what that sounds like to you, but being at the center of a tornado seems like a fair approximation. Clearly, the role of technology as an enabler of organizational agility is being called on in previously unforeseen ways. And for that agility to continue to mature, you can't let the kinds of process gaps and improvisational measures alluded to in the third bullet-point above stand in your way.
Transformation is a journey
While there's no telling when the pandemic will be behind us, we do at least know this: The shift to mass remote work inaugurated by COVID-19 has been a huge learning curve, and in many cases a clarifying one. Enterprise technology is a case in point. Which technologies have emerged as essential to your organization's ability to continue business as usual, collaborate effectively and generate bottom-line value? And which have proved less essential?
Going forward, that's probably going to be the distinction between the tech tools and services you keep, and those you choose to scrap instead.
Similarly, at the intersection of tech and productivity, there's also been a significant learning curve when it comes to workforce management. Are you and your team being as productive as you possibly can be? How do you know? Only 16% of organizations in a recent Gartner study indicated that they were monitoring and collecting "passive" employee data -- that is, data around virtual logins and logouts, computer and phone use and so on -- which means the honest answer for apparently the majority of companies right now is, "We don't."
Implementing essential processes and practices to enable your remote-capable workforce, in other words, isn't enough. It's really only the first step.
Ultimately, and in a related vein, I would argue that true organizational agility is a characteristic that transcends tech, infrastructure -- any of that stuff. It's something more fundamental, almost akin to a shift in mindset, and organizations that can revamp their work cultures in this way will be powerfully positioned to induce innovative thinkers and valuable contributors to join them down the line.
The time is now to be agile
Whatever COVID-19 brings next, to drive the desired outcomes will require tremendous organizational agility, and that agility will need to move in lockstep with digital strategies to drive business value. Only in this way will organizations be able to effectively protect themselves against the next stage of pandemic-related disruption, as well as any other shockwaves just over the horizon.
About the author
Alisia Genzler brings over 20 years of industry experience to her role as president and chief client officer at Randstad Technologies, where she oversees all sales teams and manages sales performance across strategic, major, key and emerging account segments. She's also responsible for expanding the company's staffing, permanent and solutions portfolios at the client level. Previously, Alisia served as executive vice president for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of Randstad Technologies.