Tuesday, 3 May 2022

What does the new normal look like now?

In our rush to put the pandemic behind us, the conversation about the “new normal” has moved on. But there remain issues we need to be thinking about.

We’ve not heard a lot about the “new normal” recently. In our rush to put the pandemic behind us, the conversation has moved on. But there remain issues we need to be thinking about in the new post-pandemic world.

We’ve heard a lot about how the pandemic lockdowns forced organisations to fast-track their digitalisation initiatives. Many achieved transformation goals that were slated to take place over many years – all within those frantic first few months.

Now that many organisations have returned to the office and adjusted to a new reality of hybrid working, there remains work to be done to ensure that the changes – and advances – that were made in response to the pandemic are built upon so that they can deliver greater efficiency and success.

Rethinking digital strategy

With so much digital strategy being fast-tracked – or, alternatively, abandoned – because of pandemic priorities, many organisations need to undertake a complete overhaul of their digital strategies.

McKinsey(1) suggests that CEOs “take a step back and assess their roadmaps… as well as the assumptions about value and feasibility underlying them.”

Given the supply chain problems, the threat of new variants and the risks emerging from the war in Ukraine, McKinsey(2) also recommends that organisations use a “crisis checklist” to review portfolio projects systematically against key criteria, such as “Are we still able to deliver, either internally or with potentially affected vendors? In what way does the project address the new business priorities? Does the project assume functioning supply chains?” Desirability must be balanced with deliverability.

Weathering the downturn

Western economies have proven to be remarkably resilient in the wake of the pandemic, with growth returning to close to pre-pandemic trajectories. However, the war in Ukraine is putting serious stresses on the global economy, so the need to have plans in place to weather the downturn remains high.

McKinsey suggests that, rather than taking a “slash and burn” approach to new IT spending, organisations should reassess spending priorities. It says, “CIOs have an opportunity to accelerate programmes and push priorities that can help position the business to succeed when the downturn ends.”

Rethinking the supply chain

Now that China is, again, in the grip of austere lockdowns, the potential for further disruption to supply chains grows. In the face of the disruption seen through 2020 and 2021, some organisations have adapted supply chains to be more local or distributed. But with the war in Ukraine highlighting global tensions, the pressure to partner in or source from other Far East locations or to localise supply chains is ratcheting up again.

Supply chain problems have been particularly problematic in the sourcing of technology. One way for organisations to reduce this risk is to migrate workloads to the cloud – effectively making hardware sourcing and maintenance someone else’s problem.

Bolster online channels

Throughout the pandemic, online sales and service channels experienced a massive spike. It's an area of digital transformation – alongside remote working – that has seen the biggest technology investments since 2020.

However, Netflix caused consternation in April when it announced that its number of subscribers had fallen. Netflix shares fell almost 40%(3). However, commentators have pointed out that the recent fall is hiding the fact that the underlying growth remains higher than the growth projected pre-pandemic. So while the return to the office and the cost of living squeeze might be having an effect, the overall trend remains resolutely towards digital.

Organisations should remember that, while online activity may dip from the highs of the pandemic, it remains an important area for investment – both as a way to build resilience for future pandemics and also to reflect and serve ongoing societal trends.

Increasing automation

As organisations have leveraged digital channels, the opportunities to automate many processes have been revealed. Introducing automation solutions within digital workflows is a great way to get started on an automation journey.

The lessons learned in digital workflow automation can then be applied to hybrid and traditional workflows to provide service enhancements and to reduce overheads or to free staff up for value-adding work.

If you’re new to the idea of process automation, it’s likely that you can practically explore the topic using an existing Microsoft 365 enterprise licence. Microsoft is investing heavily in its Power Platform and many enterprise subscription options include licences for Power Automate and Power Apps.

Meeting the new cyber-security threat

We’ve all been responding to a heightened cyber threat, since cyber criminals moved quickly to exploit the changes made to the way we work and concerns about COVID-19 pandemic. McKinsey(4) lists the most effective ways to respond:

• Accelerate patching for critical systems

• Scale up multi-factor authentication

• Install compensating controls for facility-based applications that were migrated to remote access (by activating VPNs and using MFA)

• Account for shadow IT (by deploying end-point management)

• Prioritise device virtualisation (such as Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop)

• Communicate creatively with staff about the new cyber-security risks

• Identify and monitor high-risk groups

• Expand monitoring (via security and event management (SIEM) systems)

• Clarify incident response protocols

• Confirm the security of third parties, including contractors, vendors, suppliers, etc.

You can find more advice about all of these topics elsewhere on our blog.

What now?

If you would like any further information about any of the topics discussed in this blog, please reach out to our team. We are always happy to assist.

Please contact us on: 0808 164 4142

 

Sources:

1. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-digital-led-recovery-from-covid-19-five-questions-for-ceos

2. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/after-the-first-wave-how-cios-can-weather-the-coronavirus-crisis

3.https://www.ft.com/content/c3b63a57-0d46-41c7-8f6b-c61d388db039 

4. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk-and-resilience/our-insights/cybersecurity/cybersecurity-tactics-for-the-coronavirus-pandemic