Published On: Thu, Dec 15th, 2016

Digital Dislocation Q & A : With Kevin Hardy, Managing Director, Africa, BT

kevin-hardy-managing-director-africa-bt-1Q: What trends are we seeing in the workplace?
A: We live and work in an age of rapid technological innovation. Devices line our workstations, homes and pockets – and technology as a result is changing everything – especially when it comes to the way we work.
Out-of-date communications infrastructure and limited investment in new technology is holding back the introduction of new collaboration technologies that employees so desperately want to use, resulting in employees increasingly bringing their own devices to work. This is bringing certain risks to the fore for many large organisations around the world, including South Africa – a digital dislocation.
Employees need to be able to communicate and work together easily, whether they’re working from the office, from home, on the go or even from the other side of the globe. As such, collaboration tools are becoming critical to allow for remote working. Tools such as video, cloud and mobile are therefore becoming critical platforms for communication across large businesses – from executives through to employees. As a result, collaboration tools are increasingly being seen as the solution, with eighty percent (80%*) of employees wanting to use collaborative tools more often.
Q: Is Africa behind when we speak of the ‘dislocation’ trend?
A: I don’t think it’s an African thing, but rather a business maturity and digital transformation component. Many African businesses are still coming to grips with digital transformation and as connectivity and access become more widely available, digital transformation increases. As such, given that this shift is in many instances still in its infancy, we haven’t felt the true impact of dislocation as of yet.
Q: What is driving change in the way we do business today?
A: I believe it’s a combination of things. The more we digitalise from an enterprise perspective, the less we are confined to working within physical offices – as the cloud and associated technology has changed the way businesses are run. What’s more as the consumerisation of technology continues to grow, it has shifted the traditional model of a 9 to 5 – as employees, businesses and their consumers are always online. Lastly, as millennials enter the workplace – they demand flexibility, a shift in thinking and they challenge the status quo – and this mind shift, coupled with technology advancements is really enabling this flexibility.
Q: What implications does this have for businesses?
A: While interconnectedness is a business goal, old infrastructure, security and budget can be a barrier to change. Employers are often caught between a ‘rock and a hard place’ as they try to:
Create a collaborative communication work environment
Compete for organisational investment
Maintain data security while employees try to use their own devices
Satisfy increasingly demanding colleagues who use social media
Balance organisational requirements with flexibility needs
Manage digital dislocation between teams and colleagues
On the contrary, there are a few positives that have resulted as well. Firstly from an employer perspective, it opens up a host of opportunities and models to look at from an operational perspective. Additionally, moving to cloud and investing in associated technologies that allow for digital transformation and remote working, goes a long way to cutting down on physical space, storage and infrastructure equipments, not to mention costs. From an employee perspective, it allows you to work within your parameters on your chosen device with the flexibility you require while still remaining ‘connected’ to the company and colleagues.
Q: So where to in 2017?
A: We are likely to see more digital transformation take place as businesses try to come to grips with disruptive technology trends that encompass the cloud, mobility, collaboration, and data. With the impetus on digital, traditional business models are likely to shift and businesses will re-examine network infrastructure, IT security, and a cloud solution that enables collaboration and true mobility. This will have an impact on employers and employees as they focus on agility, cost, and regulation.
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