9 Key Trends Redefining Future of Work in the New Normal: Part 3

We have been discussing the dynamic nature of the Future of Work given the pandemic and understanding how it will be redefined in the new normal. In the first part, we focused majorly on a macro understanding of acceleration of enterprise-wide innovation, supported by adoption of digital disruption and the move towards a hybrid model of working. The second part of our series focused entirely on the changing nature of the workforce accompanying the shift in the Future of Work, illustrating the importance of employee well-being, dynamic models of collaboration and building of a digital tribe.

This final part of our series will shed light on how organizations need to leverage data, promote diversification and focus on resilience to ensure business continuity. As the Future of Work is ambiguous and uncertain, the following three trends will illustrate how organizations can redefine the way they operate to stand strong against any disruption that comes their way.

Increased use of and reliance on data

Use of and reliance on data will become an important attribute impacting the FoW in the new normal. Different forms and types of data will become crucial for organizations to gain new insights and adapt to the changing market realities. On the one hand, organizations will focus on customer-centric data to gauge consumer pulse and understand the market demands. On the other hand, employee data will also be seen as an asset to understand employee pulse, their needs, level of engagement and well-being. While the importance of data has been emphasized time and again, organizations need to realign themselves on leveraging the vast data available to them.

Despite having access to vast volumes of data on different business and market aspects, organizations struggle when it comes to making sense of the same due to a variety of reasons. On the one hand, organizations may not be able to capture or gather the right data. On the other, they might find themselves lacking the right skills, resources and tools to derive actionable insights from the data. Therefore, IT leaders and CIOs need to step up to bridge this gap and translate access to data into insights that can drive large scale impact. Here, adoption of AI/ML can help leaders process data in a strategic manner to facilitate evidence-based decision making. At the same time, data is key to promoting business intelligence across industries. Leveraging business intelligence will allow organizations to take calculated risks facilitating greater innovation. According to our latest Business Innovation Report, 39% IT leaders and CIOs believe that improved business intelligence and decision making is a top priority for organizations, highlighting the importance of data in the post-pandemic world.

Prioritizing resilience over efficiency

For a long time, organizations have focused on facilitating greater efficiency in everything they do. This refers to a move towards a model of work that reaps maximum output with minimum input. Such an approach, undoubtedly has amounted to cost reduction, huge profits and positive impact on the bottom line for all businesses. If one looks closely, efficiency is adapting to the existing environment of work in a way that promotes a single way of work that is most productive. However, the pandemic has established the sentiment of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. Here, sticking to only one model of working, no matter how much productivity it guarantees, is likely to fail in the face of disruption. Models which are able to adapt to changing environments and disruption are largely marked by diversity and flexibility.

In such a scenario, a focus on resilience over efficiency is extremely important. IT leaders and CIOs must reinvent the way organizations are built to make them more responsive marked by greater flexibility and agility. One of the key focuses of building resilient organizations should be on reducing the response time to any disruption. This requires a combination of the right technological resources, including an on-cloud presence to avoid any loss of data, quick decision making as well as a resilient workforce. In addition to investing in the right cloud solutions, organizations must all invest in augmenting the digital skills and knowledge with cross-functional expertise for their human resources. The objective is to have all the necessary technological and human assets that can ensure business continuity with their ability to adapt and reinvent. A resilient organization is able to survive and even thrive through uncertainties by anticipating, preventing, adapting and recovering from any crisis.

Diversification on all fronts

The last trend that will redefine the Future of Work in the new normal is the need to diversify. IT leaders, CIOs and all others in leadership positions by now acknowledge the need of resilience, and diversity is one its key components. Diversification on all fronts is the need of the hour. The objective of diversification again is to promote business continuity by falling back on diverse strengths in case of adversities, rather than relying on a single USP.

To begin with, organizations must look at geographical diversification to enter into markets beyond their current geographic location. This is important for crises that impact a particular region and are not spread across the globe. At the same time, diversification and reinvention of offerings is extremely important. This means diversifying offering to meet customer needs and expectations and aligning with the market dynamics. Next comes the diversification of the workforce. This includes expanding the workforce to accommodate diverse demographic pools, skill sets and competencies, geographic backgrounds, etc. The intent to diversify might also entail mergers and acquisitions to expand the strength base. Finally, diversification of technologies adopted is equally important. Relying simply on one technological driver at a time when each one can augment the value of the next might not be the wisest move. Based on business priorities, CIOs and IT leaders must understand the interdependence of different tech drivers and adopt an integrated solution.

Essential Guidance for IT Leaders

CIOs and IT leaders must take charge when it comes to realizing the potential of these three trends mentioned above. As advocates of innovation in the organization, CIOs must begin the journey to organizational transformation to adapt to the FoW by capturing data and leveraging analytics to derive insights. Here, as one of the best practices, they must adopt the best technological solutions to process high volumes of data and implement the insights derived to facilitate agile decision making. At the same time, they must focus on diversification of technological drivers, relevant to organizational priorities. The bottom line is that IT leaders and CIOs must take the lead in formulating and implementing an integrated approach to leverage data using technological advancements to promote resilience, adaptability, agility and flexibility, ensuring business continuity during adversities.

With this, we come to an end of our three part series focusing on the 9 key trends redefining the Future of Work in the new normal. To conclude, we would like to highlight that all key priorities to adapt to the Future of Work in the new normal will primarily focus on building and augmenting resilience across the organization- be it people, processes or practices. In such a situation, enterprise-wide innovation is critical to organizational success.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this feature article are of the author. This is not meant to be an advisory to purchase or invest in products, services or solutions of a particular type or, those promoted and sold by a particular company, their legal subsidiary in India or their channel partners. No warranty or any other liability is either expressed or implied.
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