How to turn Covid-driven digital adoption into permanent, positive change
By Angela Wood, Business Sales Manager, Virgin Media Business
Our recent report with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) identified a £232 billion opportunity for Covid-driven digital change.
That’s an extra £232 billion added to UK GDP by the year 2040 if firms keep investing the way they have been these past 12 months or so.
As for what those investments might look like, Cebr called out three areas in particular:
- Flexible working
- Digital delivery of services
- Richer data for analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
And while adding hundreds of billions to the economy in future might seem like a somewhat distant, intangible feat, you don’t have to look hard to see the benefits the above three points are already bringing to businesses right now.
The power of digital change: a case study
When you hear the words ‘digital technology’ and ‘efficiency’ in the same sentence, there can be a tendency for your mind to wander into people-being replaced-by-robots territory.
But that is a frankly outdated view.
In truth, digital transformation is about enhancing the human elements of an organisation and empowering people to collaborate and serve their customers more effectively.
Legal and professional services firm Knights is the perfect example of this.
As COO Richard King said in a recent interview:
“Our business model is focused on a strong culture of collaborative teamwork, supported by robust technological systems.
“Our ways of working dramatically more efficient and faster (as a result). The industry average number of fee earners per support staff is 1.7:1. Currently we’re operating at 4.2:1.”
Has all this change made Knights feel less human as an organisation?
Quite the opposite.
“Some believe that embracing digital means losing some aspects of the personal relationship,” says King. “But we would argue the opposite.
“Technology has allowed us to work effectively from home, allowed us to successfully integrate acquisitions, onboard and train our new colleagues and engage effectively with our clients.”
And these digital changes have had a positive impact way beyond giving people more flexibility.
They’ve led to a Client Net Promoter Score of 60-plus, a figure that compares favourably with the likes of Apple or Amazon – way ahead of Knights’ rivals in the professional services sector.
The right foundations: secure connectivity
Knights was able to achieve such fast, effective digital change largely because it had the necessary infrastructure to support it.
And this is the same whether you’re a professional services firm, a large retailer or anything in between. And with the way people work having evolved more rapidly than ever these past 12 months, yesterday’s infrastructure simply won’t cut it. The technology changes we’ve all had to adopt are putting new and increasing demands on our networks.
This is putting more traditional approaches like MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) under more pressure than they can handle, leading many organisations to turn to a more software-based approach.
As we move towards our future everyday, a modern network like SD-WAN (software-defined networking in a wide area network) can dramatically improve your operational efficiency and pave the way for the kind of change outlined above.
You don’t need to move your data as far or through nearly as many places. You can break traffic out locally and steer it directly to where it needs to be, bypassing a big chunk of your network in the process.
And because SD-WAN allows you to prioritise and redirect data flows in an automated way, you can easily account for any rapid changes in bandwidth consumption – spinning up a new site at short notice, for example, or quickly rolling out new cloud-based collaboration tools.
And connectivity goes hand in hand with cybersecurity. So as you’re thinking about changing your infrastructure to adapt to new ways of working, you also need to be looking at your overarching approach to security too.
In a hybrid working world the answer should always be zero trust.
That means moving away from trying to secure your whole network at once to looking at individual users – all of whom are untrusted by default.
You can then make instant judgements based on their specific situation, and either allow or not allow them access to certain data or applications.
In short: you can make digital change happen fast without losing sleep over sensitive data.
With the end of the UK’s pandemic finally looking like it might be in sight, achieving the above is going to be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors – not just as a business but as an employer.
Want to know more about turning Covid-driven digital adoption intopermanent, positive change, including more case studies from firms thathave been there and done it?