While we battle the COVID-19 crisis, experts say businesses who care geared up for a more digital future will be the winners at the end. The pandemic has emphasized the vital role of technology and innovation for supporting remote working, scaling digital channels, and measuring productivity. Companies have digitized overnight to keep operations going while minimizing the risk to employees by adapting to new ways of working and new technologies to aid them. And there is more to come.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Priyanka Anand, Head of People, MOAI (Market Area South East Asia, Oceania, and India), Ericsson shares how the firm’s focus would be on how it can accelerate the digitalization of its operations.
COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
Absolutely, the COVID-19 situation has really ensured that the digital transformation agenda of organizations across verticals is being accelerated. However, what is also important to note is that the organizations that have been investing in their digital transformation journey even prior to the COVID-19 situation have benefitted during these times. Digital tools and robust infrastructure that have enabled our work during COVID times are here to stay. In fact, it has become imperative for organizations to digitally transform to be able to operate effectively during this time. And they are doing so by enabling the workforce to work remotely; providing remote learning opportunities; automating operations more and more as well as leveraging digital tools and platforms to increase productivity.
How are you preparing for a post-COVID business? What investments are the most necessary to create the technology environment that will allow your company to thrive in the next normal?
“The focus for us and for other organizations going forward will be on how we can accelerate the digitalization of our operations.”
Our focus will be on imbibing the learnings from the COVID situation into our day to day workings post COVID such that we can make our operations more efficient while relying more on digital tools and digital infrastructure.
A lot of employees must be working remotely. What are your biggest challenges with respect to dealing with this new style of working and what technologies are you employing to solve them?
While the opportunity and facility to Work from Home were already available to employees before COVID, we made sure the transition, least affected our employees spread out across the globe. We have around 85,000 employees globally and most of them are working from home. Although the fundamentals of employee experience and business needs stayed the same, the real test was in how we enabled a smooth transition to an effective remote working model.
As an organization, we have always invested in a growth mindset and when we were confronted with this pandemic, we looked at the crisis and thought about how we could re-frame the picture: how do we adapt to the new ways of working ourselves and get the teams to work with a changed mindset. Please also keep in mind that because our services fall under the Essential services category, our network engineers and field maintenance staff also worked day and night on the ground to provide seamless network connectivity to the world.
For us, driving the balance between business continuity and empathy has been key. Even as we have maintained the focus on meeting customer needs and maintaining seamless connectivity, we have ensured our employees are supported as they grapple with the new reality. We have ensured that we maintain open communications with the teams across the organization so that teams feel supported at all times.
In terms of technology, we launched a wellness program with focused interventions around their physical wellbeing, financial management, emotional wellbeing, and social wellbeing to take care of our employees. We have set up 24X 7 Employee Assistance Program to provide one to one support to employees
To strengthen the virtual engagement of leaders with their teams, we have launched Virtual Coaching programs for leaders across the organization. Our ‘Leaders as Coaches’ program focuses on empowering leaders to lead effectively with empathy, providing them with the necessary tools to have greater self-insight and support their teams as required.
We encourage employees to continue building their competence by going through learning modules available on our anytime / anywhere learning platform called Degreed
Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making for your organization after COVID-19?
Being a global organization and a tech company at that, tech infrastructure has always been part of our day to day working. The COVID-19 situation has brought in some fresh learnings on what more is possible while working remotely.
“COVID-19 has enabled people and organizations across the globe to understand the value ICT and connectivity brings to our daily lives.”
With more and more activities being carried out online, and greater numbers of hours spent connected to both fixed and mobile broadband, the internet has become a fundamental part of daily life – as critical as access to food and electricity. The fastest-growing mobile app categories during the COVID-19 period have been those related to the crisis, remote working, education/e-learning, and wellness. These trends are a sign of consumers adapting to the new normal and are unlikely to slow with the easing of the pandemic. According to a Consumer Lab Study that we conducted across key markets in the world, 6 in 10 US workers are expecting to switch to video-based conferences after the crisis, and the same number believe online healthcare consultations will become more popular than physical visits to the doctor.
“So we definitely see a greater reliance on tech infrastructure post COVID not only from enterprises but from everyday users as well.”
What do you think are the security implications of the post COVID world because data will no longer be confined to corporate offices?
Today, we live in a technologically advanced society. There are various types of solutions such as firewalls, etc. that can help organizations to ensure that company’s data is safe and secure