To wrap up an unprecedented year, we present highlights from other podcasts in the Deloitte family as they tackle the fallout from COVID-19 on work, on life, and on industries as we go forward.
“If the society isn’t doing well, how can businesses be expected to do well?”
—Eamonn Kelly, chief futurist, Deloitte LLP
“The grief for those negative, unintended emotions will manifest either physically or in temper, anger problems, physical health problems, substance use problems.”
—Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Society for Suicide Prevention
“You have to prepare for multiple day ones, not just one.”
—Jean-Emmanuel Biondi, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
“This period of time is going to create an interesting opportunity for some of those new entrants to starting a studio from whole cloth.”
—Susan Goldsmith, principal, Monitor Deloitte
“You are talking about a global workforce across many countries, over 16,000 employees. You won’t have time to teach every single one of them. It has to be easy, fast, scalable, and we deployed in five weeks. ”
—Stanley Toh, head of enterprise and user services and experience, Broadcom, Inc.
“We’ll also see new ways to handle this workforce that is now available for this knowledge economy and with that, we'll see a new ecosystem of jobs getting created.”
—Dr. Anima Anandkumar Bren Professor of Computing at California Institute of Technology and director of machine learning research at NVIDIA
WELCOME to the Press Room from Deloitte Insights. I’m Tanya Ott. And I’ve been reflecting back on what a wild year it’s been.
When COVID-19 hit, we all had to scramble to adapt. Last year, I was recording this in a professional studio. Now, I’m in a makeshift booth in my daughter’s closet. And you’re probably not listening to this podcast on your commute—unless you’ve got it playing while you walk from your kitchen to wherever you’ve set up your computer at home.
Across Deloitte, we pivoted to helping organizations adjust to the crisis, publishing insights and advice on our global COVID-19 hub. In recognition of the work done across the organization, we decided to use our year-end episode to highlight some of the great conversations touching on COVID-19 from other podcasts in the Deloitte family.
The Resilient podcast spearheaded Deloitte’s audio take on the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Mike Kearney, a risk and financial advisory partner and chief marketing officer in Deloitte & Touche LLP, led conversations on everything from supply chain disruptions and economic scenarios to remote working challenges and crisis response strategies, giving actionable insights from leaders to help organizations think through what to do now—and next.
Here, Mike talks with Eamonn Kelly, chief futurist and Office for the Future leader, and Jason Girzadas, managing principal for businesses, global, and strategic services and member of Deloitte’s US executive. Mike speaks first, then Eamonn, then Jason.
Mike Kearney: … why do you think it’s important for leaders to embrace building a better future as a central part of their strategy, their short-term and long-term strategy?
Eamonn Kelly: … you need a healthy society to have a healthy business environment. The world of businesses is not disassociated from the overall society and the broader economy that we live in. It’s a huge shaper and driver of it. And if the society isn’t doing well, how can businesses be expected to do well? … even before the tragedies of the pandemic, there were real challenges in the world. There’s dramatic change going on, and there are extraordinarily great things that could happen. There are ways in which we can definitely forge a more inclusive, sustainable, resilient, prosperous, just economy and society. These things are possible, but there are real challenges of transition pain. Inequality is growing. There are going to be pressures on work as we’ve known it with automation, we have climate change challenges, sustainability challenges. There are social challenges right now of polarization and declining trust. These are very, very important, and rising to the opportunities and tackling the challenges, businesses are going to be key agents and key players in determining that future and being conscientious and deliberate about how we do that to optimize the opportunities and reduce the pain and the friction caused by the challenges. …
Jason Girzadas: Business leaders do in fact care about these topics. We need to say that as business leaders ourselves, and we’re encouraging our fellow business leaders to do the same. So that’s point one. These are not someone else’s problem. In fact, businesses, to Eamonn’s comment, can play a role in, we believe, impacting for the positive these types of issues. And we think businesses need to engage on these societal issues and work to address them. Because, for the reasons that Eamonn said, that a healthy, productive workforce, a healthy, productive society lead to the business conditions that all businesses want, which is to be able to sell and grow and develop people, and flourish. So, there is a mutually reinforcing benefit here. And all of the future-driven topics that Eamonn talks so eloquently about, the rise of digital technology, the changing nature of work, the changing power structures in society. All of those things are very true today. But the current circumstances lay them even more bare and we think cause an even greater call to action for businesses.
Mike Kearney: Jason and Eamonn, I want to build on that. Do you think COVID-19 was a catalytic event? Because quite frankly, we’ve been talking about these societal and environmental issues, all of these things that you’re laying out, but why now? Do you think COVID-19 is bringing it to the forefront?
Eamonn Kelly: It is a catalytic event, and it’s going into an existing situation where if you look at what the World Economic Forum participants have been seeing at Davos for a number of years now, if you look at what CEOs have been putting in their newsletters and their communications is the need for business to change. If you look at the business roundtables, CEOs are talking about inclusive capitalism and the need for us to take this more seriously. The level of commitment expressed has been increasing very steadily. The level of commitment manifested, as opposed to expressed, will increase significantly when we’re through the worst of the pandemic. And the reason is that we’ve had a wake-up call. We’ve seen what happens when you can’t depend on the infrastructure, when the norms and the resources and assets of society are not as available as we are accustomed to them being; we are aware of the fragility, and aware of how much it hurts when other people hurt. When we see each other hurting, it’s painful. And human beings are empathic animals. And we’ve already persuaded ourselves, largely at the level of theory. And we’ve been doing that for a number of years. The pivot we’ll see in the months and years ahead, and that we’d love to be a part of, is we’re going to move from theory to the practice, and it’s not going to be easy. But I personally believe the level of commitment to move from expression to manifestation of a societal over business is deep and will occur.
Personal resilience is foundational to the WorkWell podcast. Jen Fisher, US chief well-being officer at Deloitte, helps her listeners discover strategies to help them survive and thrive in face of disruption and uncertainty. Here, she talks with Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Society for Suicide Prevention, about how COVID-19 may change the workplace culture taboos around mental health.
Jen: … I recently read an article that said, even though this is temporary, we’re all feeling a number of different griefs right now. The grief around loss of life as we know it, normalcy and routines, the loss of control, loss of connections, all the things that you and I have talked about during this episode. What is the best way? I think you just said it, kind of staying connected, the internal feeling of feeling supported, but what are some strategies outside of that to deal with loss and grief?
Christine: Well, there are lots of self-care strategies that people find helpful and we’re not all wired the same in that regard. So, have the realization and compassion for those in your circles, that people’s response can be of different levels of intensity, and their natural
instincts about how to care for that moment of sorrow or grief can be as different as the impulse to organize closets, and then, meanwhile, your loved one just needs to chill out and binge watch entertainment. And those are all good if they’re helpful for the person to feel grounded and more secure. But, there’s a whole kind of grief area of expertise where people who have taken an interest in their own experiences of grief, some of them will facilitate grief support groups. There is grief counseling. There are many different ways to access these self-care strategies as well. And some of those are as simple as writing about your experiences. That very act of writing, like processing with a peer or a therapist can be incredibly therapeutic and protect you against what might have been the otherwise really negative impacts of grief. Because the truth is, while none of us probably grew up in environments that taught us how to process emotions very well, when we avoid them and think that the strategy that is best is to just brush it under the rug and kind of forge through as if it never happened. That comes back around to us. And the grief for those negative, unintended emotions will manifest either physically or in temper, anger problems, physical health problems, substance use problems. We can actually prevent some of that just by the simple act of processing through.
Jen: On the flip side of that, I’m seeing more and more examples of very prominent leaders bringing mental health to the forefront of the conversation as a result of COVID. Do you think this collective permission to speak about mental health and mental illness will shape the future and hopefully, we’ll do things differently?
Christine: I really do. Now I have a biased view of the world because—and I’m sure you do, too—this is on our minds all the time and we are experiencing this incredible level of interest in how do I cope? How do I stay resilient? How do I thrive? Is this normal to feel this way? Give me some strategies. And it’s very much at the core of how do we optimize our mental health that happens to be in this moment where people are hungrier and much more attuned to a feeling of really, in some cases, desperation to learn how to do that better. But what it ties into in the long view is the change in culture that’s been happening over recent years, [which] has been tremendous in this regard. But, of course, it hasn’t been universal, and it hasn’t touched every community or industry or workplace culture. Yet, now, it’s kind of busting through a lot of those, just before the COVID moment. Those still existing barriers of just either not realizing that it must be a priority because it relates to so much of life. Our physical health, our workplace productivity are, you know, there’s so many different ramifications that can now be measured, but it wasn’t on everyone’s minds, but now suddenly it is much more so. So that will not be a forgotten moment or a blip. I do think that just continues to deepen the already existing kind of culture change that we’ve been seeing.
Both Resilient and WorkWell look to lessons that apply across all types of businesses. Other podcasts take an industry-specific look on the impacts of COVID-19. That Makes Cents—and that’s cents as in c-e-n-t-s—focuses on consumer behavior and the broader consumer industry. One sector, Retails, is still dealing with seismic shifts caused by the pandemic. Podcast host Bobby Stephens, a leader in Deloitte Digital’s Retail & Consumer Products practice, took a hard look at the tightrope retailers are walking with Jean-Emmanuel Biondi, Deloitte principal and one of the authors of Deloitte’s Post-COVID strategies for retailers: Reopening stores.
Bobby: There’s really a time crunch here. A window is sort of opening up, and there’s this weird thing where we almost need to thread a needle. Opening too soon and not right is a bit of a risk. Waiting too long to open to get it super perfect is probably a risk as well, because you probably miss demand and the opportunity to welcome people back to things and rituals that they like in their daily life. Before we close up, how do we connect the gap between all of the things you could be doing and a few of the changes you need to mobilize to action very quickly?
Jeb: A couple of things. First of all, you need to prepare not for one opening, but multiple openings. It’s on a state-by-state basis where we see things reopening or we see stores reopening, and the rules are different, by the way. There’s not a lot of consistency, necessarily, across all of the states—certainly not across all the markets, if you’re a global retailer. So you have to prepare for multiple day ones, not just one.
The second thing that is important is that you align your organization on what I would call the minimum viable stores. What is the minimum you need to be able to open the stores? That means you may have to make some decisions and sacrifice some parts of the business, whether they are departments that you don’t want to go open right away because you’re not comfortable, you don’t think that you can ensure safety of the consumers, or it’s too difficult to manage. A lot of questions [are] around fitting rooms or testing of the products—beauty areas, as an example. But what is the minimum viable store? What does it look like? Be prepared for that. And align the organization that everybody accepts. That’s what you have to go with.
The third element that I think is important is that you establish a nerve center that will really operate as the decision arm, being able to capture information. And you need to think about all of the KPIs that you need to have in place to understand how stores are reopening, how well they are reopening. Capture the information, analyze the information, disseminate the information, and make decisions, obviously. And that nerve center needs to be fully supported by the leadership to make sure that they’re behind them when key decisions and tough decisions have to be made.
The entertainment industry has also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Not only have theaters been empty, but it’s hard to film new movies when everyone is isolating. But the User Friendly podcast, which covers the tech, media, and telecom industries, discovered that the pandemic may shake up the film industry even more than we expect. Host Hanish Patel talked with Susan Goldsmith and Danny Ledger, leaders in Deloitte Consulting’s Entertainment practice, about a potential opening for new players.
Hanish: So, Susan, Danny, we’ve talked a bit about here in terms of just some of the adjustments, I’ll call it, or considerations that established production houses and studios will need to take, but let’s pivot a moment for potentially someone who’s thinking about setting up a studio, setting up a production house, a small independent, where do they stand on this?
Susan: I’ll kick it off, Danny, and then you can respond. Hanish, it’s very interesting when you take a step back and you look at the production ecosystem. You’ve got very established players, the established studios in the locations that I’ve talked about, Vancouver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, but what we’re seeing is newer entrants into the ecosystem, smaller, more independent production houses that are not as entrenched in ways of doing business. And that this period of time is going to create an interesting opportunity for some of those new entrants to starting a studio from whole cloth and baking in not only the different emphasis on health and safety and those guidelines, and better use of technology to do those things, but also a level of agility working with producers. Even around something as simple as scheduling and, again, leveraging technology to be more agile, address the pent-up demand. And there again, they’re not as entrenched in old ways of doing production that we’ve seen. Danny, I’m sure you would like to comment on this.
Danny: I agree. And those new entrants who can think about and deploy capabilities that minimize the risk of production delays, and have both the technology capabilities, as well as the physical space, construction, design, and layout, that minimize exposure and potential risk of contracting COVID are going to be very interesting and likely high-demand areas where new productions would look to film first, because they’re going to help minimize those risks. Because, at the end of the day, the biggest risk here is not just the individual risk, of course, but it’s also the risk to delays in the production schedule and what that means from a financial impact perspective. Susan, to your point, there [are] some interesting things happening in the industry that could be disruptive and could also help accelerate how these new productions are managed and delivered over time.
Film sets aren’t the only worksites that don’t translate well into work-from-home. Lab-based research also needs to happen on-site. For example—
Stanley Toh: In Broadcom, 75% of our workforce actually are R&D engineers, so they need access to their lab resources where all their machines and technical instruments are, where they need to do testing and development. The other thing we also find that, when you are doing face-to-face collaboration, decision-making is faster and product design is actually more effective too. … But, David, to bring people back, it’s not only just technology. …
That’s Stanley Toh, head of enterprise and user services and experience at Broadcom, Inc. The “David” he’s talking to is David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP and one of the hosts of the On Cloud podcast. And while Broadcom needed more than just technology to bring people back … technology sure helped, in the form of a cloud-based app.
Stanley Toh: … we actually implemented this in five weeks from start to finish. So, the pressure on the team to get mobile forced everybody to get the app up and running, and the app interface has to be so simple that we don’t have to teach every single employee to use it, right, because you are talking about a global workforce across many countries, over 16,000 employees. You won’t have time to teach every single one of them. It has to be easy, fast, scalable, and we deployed in five weeks. …
And, as Deloitte’s Siddharth Mehrotra explained, it also has to remain useful on a post-COVID world:
Siddharth Mehrotra: … we don’t know how long this solution is going to be required. It may be six months; it may be a year. … As soon as the news of vaccines and everything are coming out, month or two months before that, Stan and I were in a discussion on deciding what we can do to the app, the platform. … Using cloud-native technologies is not a dead investment. Even though the situation demands that you have to have a usable solution, we can still repurpose the solution for doing other things, more meaningful things, more productivity-based things with the same platform without having to throw away everything.
Stanley Toh: If you look at it, this deployment was globally, and it’s on mobile phones. Each country had a different carrier, right, so I cannot tie a solution to an on-prem solution that is very regionalized. The experience will be very bad for the end users. Say the cloud solution actually enabled us not only for the speed and scalability, it’s also far-reaching to any country. When we deploy this, we are not only looking at the US like we [did] earlier; it’s to 10 countries. It’s as far-flung as down in South America, in Brazil, in India, in Japan, in Malaysia, in Singapore. It’s all over. It’s all over the globe.
So, the cloud technology actually enables us, or give us the option to be able to deploy to anywhere, any scale in a very short time period.
We want to close out this year-end podcast on a bit of hopeful note: With all of the disruption and pain COVID-19 has caused, it’s also shown us how adaptable, how resilient, and how creative we can be. Technologies and practices that we thought were years away are now part of our daily lives—so imagine what we will see evolve as we emerge from this moment.
Beena Ammanath, executive director of the Deloitte AI Institute and host of the AI Ignition podcast, casts her eye to the future with the help of Dr. Anima Anandkumar, a machine-learning pioneer at NVIDIA and Caltech:
Beena: I’m a big believer that AI is going to make human lives better and some parts of it is helping us focus and develop skills which we may not have had time for to think about. Staying on the same track of jobs, being a pioneer in this field, what do you think are some of the new jobs that we’ll see evolving five years from now and what’s your prediction, what will be the most in-demand job in five years?
Anima: Beena, we’ll see things have all [evolved] much more quickly because the pandemic has created different conditions. So first of all, now remote work is so widely accepted. Thankfully, at NVIDIA, this was accepted even before the pandemic. I know so many amazing colleagues who are in Europe, Asia, even New Zealand, we’ve had the pleasure to work on projects that have worked so well and we can adapt to these time differences, but much more broadly, people have realized that even amid such a challenging pandemic, when kids are at home, they are having to be helping with all the schooling and everything that is happening, still the productivity has many times being better than what was in office. So leaders are realizing that. Forcing people to commute long distances and spend all their energy of the day in that versus staying home and still being able to connect remotely and be productive and maybe once in a while there is an in-person meeting to keep the connection. We’ll see a lot more of that even after the pandemic is over, so that will be a big change. And with that means even more globalization and democratization, so there will be much more openness to considering candidates across the world and hopefully with much more diverse experiences, so not just looking at candidates from a top school, but now if you’re opening up the opportunities and also asking, okay, now how do we judge people if they haven’t just gone through the traditional academic route, how do we find talent across the world? I think we’ll see also new ways to handle this workforce that is now available for this knowledge economy and with that, we’ll see a new ecosystem of jobs getting created.
Beena: So Anima, can you share with us what does it mean to you when you say to democratize AI, what does AI democratization mean for you?
Anima: Thanks Beena, that’s something I’m very passionate about and I love the opportunity for more people to think about it and contribute toward it. To me, democratization comes with two facets. One of them is representation, like they should be represented in these AI models. So when we’re talking about face recognition that is being served in this country, all demographics, age groups, genders should be represented well, so they have a right to representation. The other is accessibility, whether it’s in terms of AI education, they want to learn about these AI models, computer resources, they want to be able to train their own AI models and their own data, so the data privacy and the right to decide how their data will be used. All this to me comes under the realm of democratization, because ultimately people should have the power to decide how they want to participate in this AI revolution, but also how they can benefit back from it and how they are represented well.
Hear more of this conversation, and other intriguing ideas, at the AI Ignition podcast.
I want to thank you for joining us on our tour of some of the best episodes related to or inspired by the pandemic. As a reminder, we listened in on Resilient with Mike Kearney, WorkWell with Jen Fisher, That Makes Cents with Bobby Stephens, User Friendly with Hanish Patel, On Cloud with David Linthicum and Mike Kavis, and AI Ignition with Beena Ammanath. We’ll have links to the full episodes on our web page at www.deloitte.com/insights, or you can subscribe to them on your favorite podcast platform.
Speaking of which—have you subscribed to the Press Room? Make sure you do—you can find conversations on the issues and ideas that matter to your business now. And you’ll be ready when we kick of the new year with the global economic outlook with Deloitte’s chief global economist, Ira Kalish. We’ve got lots more in store, including a look at the new tech trends, a deep dive into the future of government, a conversation about purpose, perspective, and potential in human capital … you won’t want to miss it.
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