As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of all sizes and in all types of industries have learned that flexibility is key to maintaining momentum and growth. And with the pandemic, technology has moved from a supporting role in offices to center stage, with enormous effects on productivity, collaboration, connection and customer engagement to form an intelligent connected workplace.
Established out of necessity during pandemic lockdowns, hybrid work has now become the norm for many organizations. And remote jobs are in high demand. A January 9 segment on 60 Minutes, featuring Karin Kimbrough, the chief economist at LinkedIn (“the world’s largest professional network”), underscored remote work’s popularity during America’s Great Resignation – now one in seven jobs posted on LinkedIn is a remote position. Prior to the pandemic, it was one in 67 jobs. Employers know that attracting and retaining employees require meeting employee demands, which include flexibility and autonomy. In a survey of 1,000 employees by LiveCareer, almost one-third said that they would quit their jobs if they lost the ability to work remotely. It’s no surprise that looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, Konica Minolta has found that 56 percent of businesses globally are committed to hybrid work. Jobs that offer the ability to work remotely have become essential to recruiting and retaining valuable employees.
And the pandemic has proven just how little physical location matters for many jobs and industries. People are working from anywhere and in all time zones to collaborate with others at all hours. Data is everywhere, along with its users. According to Konica Minolta’s research, the #1 priority of remote workers is effective communication. The goal is to collaborate and communicate better – because when it comes to uncertainty, human to human interaction is still the best way to resolve questions.
So how do you keep your data, property and the people who work for you (and with you) accessible, productive and secure when everything is changing? As the pandemic has shown us, technology often is the key.
Many businesses – perhaps your own – are wondering how to use some of the newer technologies you’ve heard about, and from virtual reality, automation, machine learning, AI and more. Customers will increasingly begin using automation – including robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence – in new ways, to take mundane tasks and automate them to a high level of accuracy and help streamline operations. For example, people will get stronger support from machine AI that proposes augmented capacities so that faster decisions can be made. But because all of this technology is data-driven, you’ll want to determine whether your organization is holding on to “bad data.” IBM estimates that poor data management already costs U.S. businesses roughly $3 trillion annually. If you’re not taking a real-time inventory of the data you hold across all data source types, then you’re soon going to have huge blind spots when it comes to knowing what sensitive data is sitting in your organization, and how it needs protecting.
Investing in digital transformation, with smart work environments and the right digital infrastructure, can help you move forward. Research shows that 50 percent of work activities could one day be automated, and that 91 percent of workers say automation saves time. As much as the buzzwords like AI, RPA and VR sound cool, every business first needs to determine what these new technologies mean to them. Also – and important – it pays to first optimize what you want to automate, and make sure you’re automating the right tasks. You don’t want to automate a bad process.
Once you’ve determined that automation will benefit your business, there are other considerations. For many organizations, moving from on-premise to cloud or cloud-first makes sense for a hybrid workforce. In that case, one of your first considerations is determining your ability to scale, which requires having the right technology and infrastructure in place. But moving to the cloud also requires new levels of security. With a hybrid workplace, workers have basically brought work into their home, and vice-versa. Every person that interacts with your network and platforms must work on them with up-to-date security measures in place to protect their devices as well as your business.
Cybercrime is predicted to cost organizations $10.5 trillion by 2025. Konica Minolta’s research indicates that 63 percent of emerging cloud investment is spent on resilience – using the right technologies to protect your workers, your networks and your data from bad actors and the potentially exorbitant costs involved in a data breach or ransomware attack. As we’ve previously noted in our blog on protecting your organization from a ransomware attack, Palo Alto Networks recently reported that the average ransomware payment has climbed 82 percent since 2020, to a record $570,000 in the first half of 2021.
The security and other pandemic-inflicted pain points that small and medium-size businesses are experiencing with hybrid work are real — but so are the opportunities. COVID-19 has brought to light that virtual can work very well. It also has huge potential to go much further. So while change is inevitable, the right tools and technologies are available to help you and your employees work faster, smarter and more securely so that you can move forward with confidence.
You could determine and develop new processes on your own and choose the technologies you think would best support your business, the most cost-effective approach for a small or medium-size business is to work with a solutions provider. These companies have proven track records when it comes to building, managing and testing technology-based processes for businesses like yours.
At Konica Minolta and All Covered, we specialize in helping our customers develop, deploy and test customized strategies to keep their data – and their businesses – accessible but safe in this new era of remote work. Learn more today!