By Stephen Repton, Managing Director and Phil Smith, Business Development Director
Innovation and digital technology are firmly in the spotlight as organisations continue to evolve service delivery. Here, Stephen Repton, Managing Director and Phil Smith, Business Development Director at One Consulting discuss their predictions for 2021 in the field of Digital & Business Transformation.
“All organisations have faced challenges over the past 12 months and we can see that 2021 is going to bring many similar pressures,” predicts Stephen. “One Consulting is a dynamic consultancy business with a difference. Our role is to help our clients navigate their way through these challenges and enable and empower them to truly transform through the use of modern working practices where people, processes and technologies are aligned in complete harmony.”
Phil continues “As customer-focused organisations face new challenges, we want to improve the customer experience, increase efficiency and productivity, reduce risk, and increase innovation through an end-to-end approach. Our mission is to help all of our clients to remain viable and well-governed organisations that can thrive no matter what the future landscape.”
So what does the future look like in terms of the way organisations will work?
“Many organisations across the country are continuing to enable their workforces to work remotely so they can continue to provide virtual services for customers,” explains Stephen. “For some, this continues to be easy as they already have flexible working arrangements for their staff. For others, it’s a concept that presents multiple challenges.”
“In addition to adapting to remote working, a spotlight has been shed on the importance of having a solid business continuity plan.
“At One Consulting we’re passionate about three key factors that contribute to how a business can continue to successfully deliver their services despite unforeseen circumstances: Technical Capability, Culture and Wellbeing and New Ways of Working.”
It’s clear that we’re never going to return to how things once were, so organisations need to carve out and adapt to new ways of doing things.
They need to take stock of their current situation, and if they haven’t got a solid business continuity plan or if their current one hasn’t been reviewed for some time, it’s critical that they address this immediately. Covid is not going to be the only crisis organisations will have to navigate, there will undoubtedly be other challenges, and businesses need to be able to adapt to continual and sometimes unexpected change.”
According to Phil, change is inevitable. “Many organisations are accelerating their digital transformation journey by introducing new technologies alongside smarter working arrangements and integrated services so they are better equipped to deal with future crises. The net result being better use of digital, more efficient working practices, a strengthened business continuity response and a much-improved employee and customer experience.”
How is One Consulting helping clients to position themselves so they can adapt to ongoing change?
“We’re helping existing and new clients to strategically plan for the future by reviewing how their services are currently delivered, assisting them with their business continuity planning, helping them to reduce business impact, and overall helping to make their organisations more resilient and better able to respond to future change and demand,” says Stephen.
“At One Consulting we’re passionate about three key factors that contribute to how a business can continue to successfully deliver their services despite unforeseen circumstances and that’s their Technical Capability, Culture and Wellbeing and New Ways of Working.”
How have you helped your clients review or improve their Technical Capability?
“We’ve helped many of our clients by undertaking a thorough review of their technical landscapes, with the aim of ensuring they are suitable for the long term, despite any future disasters,” explains Stephen.
“What we are finding is that, whilst some technologies and some new ways of working have been OK for short periods, many businesses are simply not equipped to support longer term service delivery in ‘response’ mode.
We are seeing that some foundational IT infrastructures are not adequate and need to be replaced or refreshed to enable new ways of working, protect business operations and fully recover back to stable service delivery.”
“We’ve been extremely successful in helping our clients to identify their most important or business critical operations and functions,” continued Phil. “Looking at whether their technical capability is sufficient or whether/if a review required. Are their disaster recovery and business continuity plans aligned, up to date and fit for purpose; does their infrastructure enable true agility, and allow access to business applications seamlessly and with ease from any place, at any time, via a range of devices; do they need to review any governance and controls that may be required in order to deliver change and transformation programmes, projects and service delivery; do they have a clear and tested framework for decision making and incident management; and crucially, what are their employee’s perceptions of the tools they have to do their job?”
“And,” said Stephen, “we want to help our clients achieve harmony between technology, processes and people, which will help to ensure continued and acceptable levels of service delivery even in the event of a major incident or disaster.”
“It’s all about helping our clients to figure out what their intended longer term strategic plans and target operating models are, such as their plans to manage a partial or full return to the office. Some are considering looking for smaller, flexible workspaces as fewer people will return to the office full time.”
People have experienced a new way of living and working and have developed preferences around work flexibility, working conditions, and work life balance that cannot be ignored or undone. We’re helping clients to consider what a hybrid remote-office model looks like moving forward and how technology and working practices can support a new world of work.”
What sort of things have you been seeing in the Culture and Wellbeing space and what might others learn from that?
“We believe it’s imperative that organisations continue to nurture the wellbeing of their employees,” says Phil, “ensuring they have the right tools to do their jobs effectively and ensuring they have continued access to the many systems they use whether they continue working from home, return to the office, or perhaps have a mix of both. Its imperative teams can continue to work efficiently and that relationships between coworkers are maintained, despite the geographical location of teams and individuals.”
“Absolutely,” continues Stephen, “employees should feel safe, happy, and valued in order to ensure they thrive and are successful, both personally and professionally. If they have healthy and effective relationships within their organisation, they are more likely to ensure the relationships between the business and their end customers are maintained and nurtured also. Technology has a big part to play in employee engagement and wellbeing and ensuring continuity of staff satisfaction, which in turn helps with positivity and innovative ways to deliver services.”
So, in your view what is the best way for organisations to maintain or improve a healthy culture?
“Firstly, communication is key,” says Phil. “Organisations must consider how to build and maintain a culture that works within new parameters. So, we encourage our clients to ask themselves, what are the expectations of our customers and workforce of the future? Are we equipped to meet those needs and expectations both now and in the future? Does our business with its people, processes and technologies support new ways to respond to change whilst sustaining excellent service delivery, no matter what business challenges are faced?”
That brings us nicely on to New Ways of Working as the third factor that contributes to how a business can continue to successfully deliver their services despite unforeseen circumstances. Can you elaborate?
“For the kind of organisations we work with, it’s imperative they keep their critical services running,” says Stephen. “We can help them to identify the operations that need to remain functioning versus those that are not so vital and help them to gain a clear understanding of their existing capabilities and the need for additional requirements. This is key in ensuring they can successfully adapt to change and cater to the needs of their customers and workforce in the future, both of whom now have massively different expectations and requirements.”
“We’re looking at things such as, do they need to review and update their corporate strategy to ensure their business is positioned to be efficient, provide good quality services to customers, and continue to adhere to governance and regulatory requirements? Have they reviewed their workforce arrangements? Have they got clear policies in place? We may also advise an evaluation of their digital supply chain. We look at how innovative technology and robust processes underpin an organisation’s strategic ambitions and how it can deliver efficiencies.”
Phil continues, “Organisations are adopting new ways of thinking so they can prepare, respond, and emerge more resilient!”
So, what do you both predict will be the focus for the rest of 2021?
“My view,” says Stephen, “is that the main focus is firmly on the new ways people will work and collaborate safely and with confidence; workforce flexibility and employee wellbeing; and in terms of services, how they will evolve and perhaps be delivered differently, without compromising on quality.”
“Business continuity and embedding intra-business collaboration whilst improving employee and customer engagement is also key. There will be a focus on Risk Management and improved IT Governance to provide Exec Teams and Boards with strong assurance that IT services are being delivered effectively, as efficiently as possible and can be recovered quickly if needed.”
“We foresee a much greater use of Cloud technologies for infrastructure, core business applications and a shift to Microsoft 365 to provide flexibility and mitigate business risk.”
“We’re helping our clients to turn data into insight to help redesign processes and develop new and innovative ways to deliver services, drive business decision making, whilst improving the customer journey and experience.”
“We’ll be encouraging a greater return on technology investment for our clients, by further utilising current technology or procuring new solutions. There’ll be a big focus on reviewing business applications and developing future roadmaps and options around some of the more traditional core business applications, whilst considering the benefits of a move to technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics.”
“We’re passionate about the development of ‘systems of the future’, using innovative technologies that will totally redefine the way our client’s workforces operate and how services will be delivered to their end customers. A low carbon agenda also provides an opportunity for economic growth and is a hot topic for a lot of organisations.”
“And,” continued Phil, “scenario analysis and planning is a key consideration, too. We can’t predict what the future holds, and we encourage and assist our clients to be prepared for best- and worst-case scenarios, and to identify if they are honestly equipped to cope in the event of another unexpected scenario. It is imperative that organisations think about changes to their business and operating models to ensure resilience in an ever-changing world. Such considerations need to include the workforce too, and what effects certain scenarios may have on them.”
“I’d also say Risk Management is an important consideration as organisations can become vulnerable in other areas, particularly where technology is concerned,” said Phil. “Organisations need to be on the front foot when it comes to cyber security – as we continue to increase our reliance on technology, the risks of threats and vulnerabilities being exploited becomes ever more important, and organisations must consider this when designing and delivering services of the future and protecting business interests, the workforce, and customers.”
It’s easy to look back at the last 12 months and focus only on the challenges but do you think there’s also been any positives, or anything we can take into the next 12 months?
“As crazy as it seems,” says Stephen, “there have been some positives that have come from the changes in working practices, that we can learn from and continue to build upon.”
“Utilising technology has provided multiple opportunities for connecting people, for learning, for employment, and for safeguarding people. In terms of the clients we work with, there’s been an incredible focus on digital inclusion and smart tech, in order to prevent vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the communities they support from facing isolation. It’s highlighted the importance of connecting people in communities and improving the access they have to services.”
“From a business perspective, many businesses who already operated digitally or those who were in a position to adapt quickly, have not only survived but actually thrived in recent months, which has highlighted the importance of more modern service delivery and agile ways of working. At One Consulting we’re really looking forward to what 2021 will bring!”