The Tectonic Shift – Enabling 2021

2020 has been a year of transformations. Futuristic start-ups and the gig economy have enabled us towards realizing a digitized ecosystem in India. Analysts are talking about how technology and development will go hand in hand and be a key decisive factor for the society and economy’s expected recovery. I would like to believe that though we are far from total recovery the situation and collaborative efforts call for captious optimism.

The pandemic has impacted businesses across all levels and categories, especially businesses that operated on a traditional level and that were more people dependent on processes and services as they were forced to rethink, and explore how they can integrate technology in their scheme of things and get going… Nevertheless, looking at the big picture, this forced adoption and experimentation is here to stay and is slowly going to integrate into every system and workplace and we will have to admit that rebound will be restrained.

As governments and policy-makers work closely with leaders across sectors, to aid, manage and find solutions to be better prepared towards managing risks and calamities of this nature the fact remains that we will have to accelerate technology adoption, innovation, and digitalization.

A major trend supporting the ecosystem in 2021 will be telecom supported by new-age technology solutions with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, blockchain, photonics, electronics, biotech, and quantum computing. This will be supported by efforts towards reskilling and democratization of digital platforms across sectors to upscale employment opportunities, in the coming months. From Corporates, MSME to Start-ups, the processes and people expectations across levels will need to be managed to tide over and grow.

Leveraging Remote and Hybrid Effectively

The pandemic has put intense pressure across sectors to adapt to the changing circumstances and evolving needs as we move to a more flexible and hybrid workplace model.

Work-life balance has a whole new meaning now as remote working often leads to the blurring of lines between work and personal lives. However, what’s commendable is that despite a lack of planning and preparation many sectors like education, healthcare, telecom, businesses were able to respond quickly even though with a temporary solution at that time and prove up to the challenge. Moving forward leaders will have to come out with solutions, re-purpose business models and re-balance priorities between short-term and long-term goals in an effort to manage continuity and growth.

This trend will continue to evolve in 2021 as companies adopt accelerated digital transformation and cloud adoption, however, this boundaryless model will also lead to an increase in vulnerabilities and security concerns. CEOs will have to look at comprehensive solutions that will address their needs and at the same time protect intellectual property while trying to keep work and workforce secure, connected and collaborative.

Staying productive: balancing work and leisure

A positive uptick of the pandemic has been that people who were resisting technology, leapfrogged to adopt it. We do not know how the pandemic will play out in 2021 and till then the new normal will be defined by ‘Hybrid’. There will be an effective mix of both offline and online across industries, sectors, and operations where some work and collaboration will happen virtually, and some will need for us to travel.

A flipside of the entire situation that will need some thinking is how to keep the millennial motivated and focused. The coexistence of physical and remote workplaces will be user-specific and need to be defined. This shift in organizational structure will also lead to more gig workers joining the workforce.

Employee safety and well-being are a priority today and will continue to be a priority. Remote working has led to a shift in the mindset today and organizations will have to relook their policies regarding this disruption and think of solutions to overcome these challenges be it remote working, emotional well-being, or sustaining the workplace culture and practices.

Need to Ideate and Innovate

Trust has now become a fundamental currency in the workplace. Integration of content, commerce, and talent is important in every business—the focus needs to be on building both, the talent brand as well as employer brand. The way forward is to be more asset lite and idea intensive to stay profitable. This also includes higher levels of digital adoption and more investments in R&D and technology bets to gain a competitive advantage over your peers.

The democratization of technology has enabled leaders to prepare better for a tomorrow in case any possible outbreak resurgences. As technologies like IoT and Edge, 5G, Blockchain, Machine-Learning and Artificial Intelligence will play a big role in accelerating this shift making businesses resilient and move ahead despite disruptions.

The Need to reskill is now

I always believe that its never too late to learn as it gives you superpowers

In 2019 a major cause of concern at the World Economic Forum was that the lack of skills was keeping CEOs awake at night. Leadership, culture, and technology have to work hand in hand to deliver quantifiable results. The only way to bridge the skill gap is through upskilling or reskilling programs as that will enable us not just to build a workforce that is in sync with the new day requirements but also enable long-term organizational resilience. There is a need for conscious efforts and investment towards overall skill development and focus on emotional quotient like communication, cognitive and analytical thinking, and collaboration. As we move towards a mixed economic recovery we will have to navigate the risks and lookout for opportunities. Some might prove to be successful, but some might fail, however, to pivot ahead we have to be in a beta stage where the only thing that will be constant is change.

As Charles Darwin said, “Species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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