As we look forward to a post-pandemic world, big realisations are setting in. The “next normal” will be nothing like the “old normal.” Businesses will never look at their supply chains, workforces and customers the same way again—and stakeholders will view businesses through an entirely different lens. What might the world look like six to ten months from now, as we move into the post-pandemic era?
In the final podcast of 2020, three Deloitte innovation leaders debate, ponder and answer questions about what new expectations business models, methods and solutions will emerge in 2021.
The daily commute is dead; offices, however, are not. A compelling conversation opener from Mike Bechtel, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, that posits workforces around the globe are figuring out what work happens best in which environment. Some Deloitte clients, Bechtel says, are reconfiguring physical office spaces to be less about the individual and their cubicles and more about group collaboration. Moving into what Deloitte terms ‘the digital workplace’, he says. “There will be a reason to go into the office, but instead of ‘sit down in your space’ it will be more about ‘sit down with everyone’.”
Scott Buchholz, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, pulls in the firm’s Tech Trends 2021 Report and highlights the finding that collaboration technology is still somewhat lagging in delivering an equal interaction for everybody. “How do we make sure that people who are physically present [in a meeting] because they happen to be geographically proximate can collaborate in equal ways with the people who are still working from home or working from other locations?”
The reality, offers Darwin Deano, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, is many companies are still thinking how to do what they used to, but a little differently. Instead, he says, the thinking around the future of work needs to focus on “how to completely transform based on what's possible instead of trying to just evolve the status quo.”
Information Technology, as a function, has been finding its way out of the dark recesses of enterprise for some time. There was a time when CEOs would almost revel in their ignorance of IT. Today, the CIO has a firm seat at the boardroom table, and that was particularly true–and important–in March 2020 when, nearly overnight, entire workforces went virtual.
As Buchholz sees it, that is precisely how it should be. In fact, he offers it should be taken a step further: Embed IT studies into MBA curriculum. In his experience, many organisation leaders are seeing the need to better understand technology so they can be better consumers of it to drive and enable business strategy. “If it’s not part of the curriculum, then we must figure out how to ensure leaders are way more comfortable with the art of the possible.”
For Deano, not only should IT be part of post-grad business education, but its inclusion should mean a commitment to staying current. Developing an IT curriculum is not a one-and-done. “Things moves so fast. By the time an MBA student graduates, nearly everything they’ve studied in their first months about technology and the impact it can have on a business has either been updated or is outdated entirely.”
Bechtel agrees and adds that sales should be part of MBA programmes as well, to promote it from a “shadow career” versus classical business careers, into a strategic discipline in its own right.
“Everything is consumable as a service,” says Deano. “Many things businesses would typically hold close to the vest as a competitive advantage they now rely on an ecosystem to execute.” What the pandemic swiftly exposed was companies with agility and flexibility built in could rapidly pivot in response. The pursuit of the Kinetic Enterprise, offers Deano, was accelerated in 2020, and in a post-pandemic world, a company’s ecosystem will grow. Says Deano: “The enterprise is ripe for rethinking and reimagining.”
On the journey to being what Bechtel calls “anti-fragile,” leaders can let go of firmly-held ideas about what the enterprise actually is, and actually embrace fluidity–and the accompanying agility and flexibility.
For years we’ve heard virtual reality–VR–is coming. Through Bechtel’s lens as a futurist, it’s here. “For real this time. COVID catalysed the need to embrace physical space. Virtual spaces are the new concert halls.” No longer is it a question of digital or physical, but a blend of the two.
Want more transformation insights from enterprise leaders? Visit deloitte.com/SAP to download future podcast episodes or listen to previous ones.