The past 18 months has proven the value of having a strong partnership ecosystem driving resiliency across all organisations. Even as the normal ways of working have been so heavily disrupted businesses have leveraged technology to not only protect the business, but also their employees, for a sustainable digital transformation. In a far-ranging interview, Secure Power General Manager – Channels, Alliances & Operations at Schneider Electric, Joseph Vijay, and General Manager of Strategy, Product Solutions Group at Datacom, Peter Stein, discussed the implications this might have for businesses, now and into the future.
One consistent benefit that organisations took away from the disruption was that it did have a positive side to it, and many individuals and organisations were able to take advantage of that to drive a better balance between work and life. “From my perspective, actually having that time with my kids was an incredible gift,” Stein said.
What’s more, Stein added, the changing way in which work was done has actually empowered some, and given them a voice where previously, in an office environment, they may have remained quiet. “What gave me a lot of hope was when we started to have those daily stand ups via video calls, we had people in our organisation who were participating, when they might not have previously. They often acted like the glue in holding the conversation together.”
The changing value of partnerships
In addition to the changing role of the individual and their relationship with their company, the disruption of the past 18 months has also had an impact on businesses – especially those that are focussed on collaboration and joint operations, such as those in the channel. For Schneider Electric – which awarded Datacom Elite Partner of the Year last year – there was a clear point of differentiation for those that approached the disruption in a positive and proactive manner.
“The pandemic made a lot of organisations, and the individuals within them, feel that they had to worry about survival,” Vijay said. “In a lot of instances, they became very inwardly focused, and so we really valued Datacom’s commitment to not only support their teams and support their customers, but also support vendor relationships. It was welcoming to have a partner say, ‘look, come up and make sure that our teams feel connected to you guys’. And they were still learning about technologies. Not everybody did that.
“I think 2020 was a test, as 2021 continues to be as well,” Vijay added. “So, you do collaboration for the sake of it? Or do you truly collaborate, and the partnership with Datacom was a stellar example of the latter.”
Leveraging technology now, and into the future
Research suggests that because of the pandemic, companies have rapidly accelerated their transformation and investment into technology. McKinsey has noted that the acceleration is as much as seven years in just the last year.
However, as Stein noted, what has been accelerated was already happening, and it wasn’t that the pandemic created brought any technologies to the table that enterprise wasn’t already aware of. Consequently, the benefits that enterprises have derived from their technology investments will continue, even as the pandemic disruption abates – their value is independent of their role in assisting with managing through COVID-19.
“I think AI and IoT can stand on their own two feet, it doesn't need COVID-19,” Stein said. “They've been around for a number of years, and they are constantly improving the way we live.
“From a Datacom perspective, for example, we've done a fair amount of work with Robotic Process Automation. That RPA conversation allows people to do more meaningful work and take away some of the general paper pushing within the business. Not only is that a savings for the organisation, but it's also a benefit for the individual as well in the sense that it’s giving them more meaningful work.”
The challenge for these organisations, going forward, will be to continue to invest in sustainable digital transformation and opportunity, and not fall back into reactive habits.
Innovate to sustainability
Finally, with organisations now seeing the benefits of approaching IT with an innovative spirit as a way of solving problems, there is also an opportunity to take big strides in proactively tackling the climate and sustainability challenges that the world is now facing, Vijay said.
“Even in a very tough year, we did not lose sight of our commitments,” he said. “There's an organisation called Corporate Knights, which evaluates how companies are keeping up with their commitments. And in 2021, we were awarded the most sustainable organisation in the world.
“Through our initiatives, we were able to save untold 40,000 tons of raw material just by recycling, and 30 million tons of CO2 emissions.”
There will continue to be disruption into the future, and it will be significant, whether it comes from further health crisis’, climate change, or other impacts. Enterprises now understand better what they need to do to prepare against disruption, and the role that IT plays in this resiliency. The main thing is that organisations need to continue to press forward with that preparedness and innovation, and not simply allow things to slide back to the way they were. Discover how we can progress towards a sustainable digital transformation in a post-recovery, new electric world.