Fit for the Future: Three business lessons from 2021
As we head into our third year of the pandemic and continuing economic uncertainty, we look at what these businesses are doing differently and the changes organisations are making to stay ahead of the curve.
In the business world, we often focus on what we did right when the true lessons lie in what went wrong. Arguably, one of the biggest lessons to come out of the pandemic is how dependent we are on technology to work effectively and efficiently. The Vodafone Fit for the Future (FFTF) report has proven that businesses further along their digital journeys felt more prepared to tackle challenges that came their way, and were in fact better prepared.
Technology is the ultimate tool
Businesses need to be agile and open to change to remain competitive. Technology is a crucial tool in helping them do it. In the Fit for the Future report, 63% of businesses said they believe technology can help them overcome business challenges and 40% have increased their digital transformation budgets to change their ways of working.
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen organisations invest in digital capabilities to transform their operations faster than ever before. Adoption of services such as unified communications, cybersecurity, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated this. At the same time, businesses are evolving their go-to-market, doubling down on digital demand generation, e-commerce, and data-driven inside sales. It’s clear many businesses now see technology as the ultimate weapon against the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fit for the future (FFTF) businesses are those best prepared for the future. They’re not just open to change and new technologies, but are leading the charge. More than half have increased their digital transformation budgets and want to be the first to try out new technology, compared to less than a quarter of all businesses.
Hybrid working 2.0 and further automation is coming
With more employees wanting flexible working arrangements, FFTF companies’ focus for 2022 will be on maintaining morale, boosting productivity, and developing a remote company culture. While it’s clear adaptability is a key driver in FFTF firms’ ability to accept change faster, it’s also evident that all businesses now see the benefit in providing employees with the latest technology to boost remote working experiences.
In fact, in 2021, 65% of businesses reported using collaboration applications such as RingCentral and Microsoft Teams. The next step is to create an environment where employees have a seamless and secure experience. Having an integrated working environment will support even greater productivity and limit the time workers spend toggling between tools. Especially as research shows 69% of employees waste up to an hour each day navigating between apps –amounting to an annual waste of 32 working days.
Among FFTF businesses, 86% are also taking action to deal with an automated world, harnessing technology that will automate and improve existing processes. This figure is in comparison with 75% of businesses overall. “Low code” integration of processes and applications with tools such as Zapier and Automate.io are scaling to improve workflows.
Societal issues require focus
Looking at the sustainability agenda, technology can support efforts here too; from greener energy and device management, to supply chains. Companies with supply chains operating on “just in time” principles have been especially challenged during this COVID-19-disrupted period.
While 69% of businesses believe their customers want them to have a clear ethical stance on social and environmental issues, many have struggled to devote time to their sustainable business agenda during the pandemic – with only 29% saying they believe sustainability is “absolutely necessary” for their organisation to operate.
FFTF organisations see sustainability as a bigger priority, and as such are much more in tune with customer expectations. In addition, 51% are set to increase their spend on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the next year. With customers becoming increasingly focused on ESG, businesses that show they’re leading the way in this space will ultimately boost their performance and improve their credibility on issues that will only become more urgent in the years to come.
After two years of disruption, businesses are seeing greater value in being prepared for the future, whether this is through the latest technology tools, new ways of working, automation or their sustainability agendas. No matter your business size or profit margin, you too can become fit for the future by prioritising strategic planning.