How your business can keep up with new technology in 2021 and beyond

By Robert Half on 9 November 2020

COVID-19 has rapidly expanded and accelerated the pace of digital transformation across many sectors as companies continue to update and optimise their remote working capabilities to ensure business continuity.

The collaboration tools and technologies that so many professionals are now using, and which businesses are so dependent on in the current environment are not unique to the pandemic, however.

The reality is, for companies that were not already embracing the latest technology prior to the onset of COVID-19, 2020 has been about playing catch-up.

According to recent research by Robert Half, 38% of international hiring managers say their business has accelerated the roll-out of new tools while, 35% have increased remote work training as a direct result of current pandemic.

The next chapter of digitisation

Across all kinds of organisations, the wheels of digital transformation are turning faster than ever.

Right now, the pandemic is highlighting the importance of keeping up with new technology, which means business leaders are already focusing on the ‘next chapter’ – working out how they will continue to enhance their digital capabilities for survival in 2021 and beyond.

Unlike anything leaders have experienced before, there’s no doubt COVID-19 is acting as a ‘circuit breaker’ on the status quo – kicking companies into the next generation of business and workplace operations. Research by McKinsey & Company finds that nine-in-ten business executives (90%) believe the COVID-19 crisis will fundamentally change the way they do business over the next five years.

Building for innovation

Despite continued economic uncertainty, now is definitely the time for companies to put plans in place for their recovery as we transition into the post-pandemic world – a world where consumer behaviours will likely have changed beyond recognition and where more emphasis will be placed on ongoing innovation and agility as key tools for survival. The research by McKinsey & Company also found, for example, that most executives (85%) think COVID-19 could have a lasting impact on their customers’ needs and wants.

Becoming and staying ‘remote work ready’ has also just been the tip of the tech innovation iceberg as businesses recognise the importance of contingency planning and responding to changing employee expectations. In the wake of all this activity, however, digitising products and services, developing ways to gather more in-depth data from consumers, and continually improving operational efficiency as well as the quality of services through technology are all likely to be focus areas throughout 2021.

Robert Half’s recent survey shows that well over one-third of hiring managers (41%) say their business is pursuing digital transformation opportunities because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, almost a third of C-suite respondents specifically point to improving e-commerce functionality and increased data analytics (32% and 28%, respectively) as priority areas of focus for their company going into the New Year.

The importance of agile talent strategies which support keeping up with new technology

Having an agile and flexible talent strategy will be essential for keeping up with new technology by ensuring that companies can remain sustainable throughout the months ahead.

By onboarding the right skills, companies will be better positioned to continue to support and enhance digital transformation efforts that drive business needs. For example, Robert Half’s survey of managers who have hired during the pandemic shows that nearly half (46%) have already hired candidates with new skillsets.

As the New Year fast approaches, business leaders must assess which critical skills will be required to recover quickly from the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever before.

Diverse IT skills across the workforce will be essential for navigating a fully digital environment, for example, inclusive of specialisms such as:

  • Data analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Cyber-security
  • Software development
  • Cloud infrastructure

At the same time, companies will need their workforces to continue to demonstrate key cognitive skills such as problem-solving, creativity, and innovation to help companies adapt and stay resilient in an evolving environment.

As companies compete more fiercely than ever before for sought-after skillsets in the coming months, onboarding quickly and offering a roadmap for ongoing training and support will also be essential for attracting and retaining the best workers.

With 2021 fast approaching, it will become more important for workers to secure opportunities which provide the chance to upskill and stay relevant in what remains an ever-changing world of work.

COVID-19 has expanded and accelerated the importance of keeping up with technology. Taking steps now to optimise your business for a tech-enabled future could be exactly what it takes to target emerging markets and give customers more of what they want – and a crucial part of this process will be implementing a robust talent strategy.

Partnering with Robert Half for all your hiring needs could help your business procure all the right skills, whether temporary or permanent, for a faster recovery in 2021 and to become a more agile enterprise in the new, post-pandemic world.

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