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How businesses can ensure a smooth digital transformation journey in a post-pandemic world

remote working
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

There’s no doubt that the global pandemic utterly transformed the face of business. In some cases, and industries, the result is beyond all recognition. The need to keep employees and customers safe and limit the spread of the virus led to many organizations rethinking their entire business delivery model almost overnight. As a result, the crisis and the chaos that followed boosted digital investment and acted as a catalyst for transformation.   

In fact, a survey by McKinsey Global reported that companies accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions, as well as their internal operations, by three to four years. In addition, the share of digital - or digitally enabled - products in their portfolios accelerated by no less than seven years. 

Modern technologies and the ability to use them to adapt has been key in responding to the disruption of work and business ecosystems over the last 18 months. While we are still seeing a surge in the Delta variant in some countries, restrictions have begun to ease in others. Now is the time to prepare for a new era of work. Whether organizations choose to pursue an in-office, hybrid or fully remote working strategy moving forward, digital is set to play more of a role than ever before. But how can business leaders ensure that they are making the investments that will set them up for long-term success?

A new business world to navigate  

From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, during the first throws of the pandemic, organizations around the world needed to work as quickly as possible to maintain operational efficiencies and ensure some level of business as usual. Therefore, the ‘first wave’ of tech investments focused on enabling basic, secure communications between remote teams, clients, and vendors. This led to a surge in the deployment of communications platforms, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, along with the infrastructure needed to support these platforms.   

As the UK’s restrictions begin to ease, attention has turned towards the future post-pandemic business world and what that might look like. Top of the agenda will be working out where employees are located moving forward. Whilst some organizations, like Goldman Sachs for example, stated their intentions early on, others have taken a little longer to decide. But now it is crunch time and according to the latest research, the vast majority of UK organizations do plan to incorporate some element of hybrid, flexible or remote work in their future operations.  

However, despite nine out of ten executives saying they envision adopting a hybrid work environment moving forward, only one in ten have begun to communicate and drive that vision. Hesitating to find the right solution for the future of work may put a business behind the curve, stuck with outdated processes while the rest of the world progresses through this critical era of digital transformation. As we move into a new age of digital collaboration, failure to adapt may exacerbate problems like employee burnout and productivity issues – two of the biggest concerns moving forward into the future of work.

Collaboration from anywhere will be key  

For business leaders, now’s the time to consider what a new work environment looks like and plan for it sooner rather than later. The truth is that architecting the future is about more than just where employees are logging on from. Regardless of whether a workforce is remote, in-office or even hybrid, the new workspace exists in the digital realm, and businesses need to prepare for that. There needs to be strategies and solutions in place to support collaboration and productivity in a digital work environment. It is only then that a business will be set up to address every eventuality. 

It takes a uniquely flexible yet robust solution to meet the needs of a modern global enterprise, free from depending on cumbersome spreadsheets, countless apps and add-ons, and email clutter for day-to-day work. With the introduction of hybrid workplaces came the mass adoption of new work applications that added to the ever-increasing amount of data, systems, and workflows. All of this created unstructured work, or collaboration with no governance that ends up flying under the radar. So how can organizations create structure from the chaos? With the help of collaborative work management solutions.  

These technologies ensure a certain level of transparency throughout an organization, enabling teams to share information and make sure everyone is on the same page, regardless of location. They bring defined processes to every single task and become the digital assembly line for all aspects of work, keeping associated documents and information about assignments together. This helps to eliminate silos, whilst streamlining teams, and ensuring the individuals remain accountable for tasks. These technologies can even help to prevent feelings of isolation by connecting teams, allowing them to regularly catch up online and feel a sense of shared accomplishment as projects are marked complete and company-wide goals are met.

One company’s search for better collaboration 

One company already transforming digitally in order to focus on boosting collaboration in our post-pandemic world is The Estée Lauder Companies, a global beauty enterprise featuring a diverse and growing portfolio of more than 25 brands sold in approximately 150 countries and territories. 

Until recently, the company was using an outdated work management process for their complex creative projects and marketing campaigns, sometimes resorting to sending thumb drives of data around the world and managing physical folders manually. As part of a wider, digital transformation initiative, and with a growing volume of projects, audiences, and needs, they realized that they required a comprehensive work management system capable of handling extensive cross-collaboration and a myriad of digital assets.

Upon adopting the right collaborative work management platform during the pandemic, Estée Lauder has been able to unify and standardize global processes and intake workflows for its 30 different and dispersed creative teams while still maintaining the flexibility for employees to work the way they want. This has enabled the company to become more agile without compromising on security and quality, resulting in fewer headaches for employees and better content for customers. 

The new work management solution has also improved reporting functionalities and transparency. It is helping Estée Lauder ensure that its teams are developing, creating, and executing the right campaigns in a timely manner with the most effective assets available. Being able to visualize and share performance reports across multiple brands, teams, and regions also helps the leadership team to understand which processes needed altering through a data-driven, results-based approach.  

Although the last 18 months have been challenging for all businesses, the pandemic has undoubtedly created a new platform for change and innovation. Today’s workforce needs robust yet flexible solutions that support complex, enterprise-wide collaboration, regardless of where employees choose to log on from. Business leaders must act now and invest in the solutions which will enable them to navigate this new era of accelerated digital transformation and set themselves up for future success.

Andrew Filev, Senior Vice President and Wrike General Manager, Citrix