With a widespread need to reskill employees in the ‘new normal’, global tech giant CGI has delivered a framework  for firms that explains how technology can accelerate adaptation

BUSINESSES are being urged to urgently develop their technological capibilities in order to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the disruption caused by the virus continues, global technology  giant CGI has put forward a wide-ranging framework for tackling the crisis and saving the economy.

Lindsay McGranaghan, vice-president of CGI in Scotland, is now calling for companies to take advantage of the insights in the report to help them adapt and thrive in the ‘new normal’.

The White Paper has been drawn up by CGI’s president and CEO George D Schindler and it outlines his belief that it is more important than ever to focus on how to create value in the face of unprecedented change.

He points out that while some industries such as online retailers have experienced a surge in demand, others have suffered a dramatic slowdown, including many manufacturing sectors forced to alter, and in some cases shut down, their operations.  

In addition, operational changes in response to the pandemic which were originally thought to be short term, look like becoming permanent new ways of doing business, either replacing or augmenting existing processes. 

“Many executives are accelerating components of their digital strategy to both meet customer needs and optimise operations,” said Schindler. 

HeraldScotland:

A central part of the white paper are findings from the CGI Client Global Insights, an annual consultative conversation where CGI leaders meet with business and IT executives to gather their perspectives on the trends affecting their enterprises.

Through 1400 face-to-face consultations with executives before and during the pandemic, it was identified that there were three key organisational capabilities that leaders will need in order to navigate both short and medium-term challenges successfully.

These are mastering business agility, rethinking the technology supply chain and enabling the “future of work” including encouraging interest in STEM subjects and helping employees update their skills.

The company’s research indicates that those organisations with high business agility outperform their peers by a factor of two to three times in terms of revenue and profitable growth yet only 18% of the commercial executives interviewed reported that their business was highly agile.

“The agility of businesses has never been more urgent and vital,” said McGranaghan. “Firms and  organisations that were already agile pre-pandemic were able to respond and adapt quickly. What this proves is that agility is beneficial to fast adaptation when striving to navigate the ‘new normal’. To enable this agility,  it is very clear that investment must be made in cultures, operating models and technology.”

Agile leaders are able to evaluate and swiftly adjust their business models in order to cope to new demands such as moving from a physical presence to an online model, according to McGranaghan.

“If they are willing to enable to latest technological developments to assist their strategies, business leaders can gain new insights, accelerate  innovation, automate their operations, enjoy close collaborations with their clients and also adopt alternative distribution chains,” she said.

In this ‘new normal’, digital engagement has become even more important and is key to ensuring success in the future. It means there is a widespread need to reskill employees to adapt to both in-person and/or virtual working conditions, according to McGranaghan. 

“We must remember that digital tools require efficient management and training to integrate them into the work environment,” she said. “Integrating relevant plans and technologies into current business models will be vital in helping organisations rebound from the present pandemic or other future crises. This really is a critical aspect of how businesses reinvent their futures. 

“Undoubtedly, an agile, digitally-aware workforce that takes advantage of intelligent, collaborative platforms can offer much greater levels of customer service. Process automation solutions are growing in use and are just one example of technology empowering  talent in the workforce to focus on the more strategic aspects of their roles and duties.”

It has become clear that not all activities will return to the way they were before the pandemic but McGranaghan believes accelerated use of digital tools will enable businesses to continue to achieve productivity gains from in-person and virtual teams collaborating across locations and time zones.  “The digital revolution is giving rise  to fascinating new business models that help industry leaders focus on serving clients in a much more focused way which provides better outcomes for everyone,” said McGranaghan.

Many pandemic-related changes are still taking place in workplaces across the country and these will continue to evolve, but it is certain that the steady implementation of new technologies will be at the heart of adaptation. 

“While many experts are making predictions on the future of industry and how to adapt, we at CGI believe it is more important than ever to focus on how to create value,” said Schindler. 

“We have demonstrated the ingenuity to help clients with the how, particularly through mastering business agility, rethinking their vital technology supply chains, and enabling the future of work.”

----------------------------------------

Firms only as strong as their weakest link

THE pandemic has highlighted the importance of the technology supply chain, whether to fulfil online grocery orders, provide telemedicine capabilities or manage surges in online and call centre volumes.

A robust technology supply chain has therefore been identified by CGI as essential for business success in the future.

The company points out that the disruption caused by the pandemic has exposed systemic weaknesses in the supply chains of some industries with many businesses unable to adapt quickly to fluctuations in demand.

There were also gaps in agreements between organisations and their providers, leading to issues such as service disruptions caused by the pandemic’s unforeseen circumstances.

CGI’s new White Paper, ‘Charting the path forward with resilience and adaptability’, predicts that regardless of where businesses stood a year ago, both public and private sector organisations will grow more technology-intensive as the way we work, live and communicate changes daily.

“The vital technology supply chains are agile and secure – building resilience by looking after core products and services in an efficient, cost-effective manner and adapting to real-time changes in demand,” said Lindsay McGranaghan, vice-president of CGI in Scotland.

HeraldScotland:

“Rethinking the strategy behind  these supply chains is vitally important for business leaders who aim to become more resilient.”

The supply chain includes a vast array of technologies and services, such as cloud, robust automation solutions, and smart managed services. 

These are delivered through an architecture of onsite, onshore, nearshore, and offshore delivery configurations. 
Rethinking technology supply chains will be key for leaders as they seek to build more resilience into their organisations.

Globally, IT modernisation is maintaining its position as the industry trend with the second highest impact, according to CGI, with executives seeking to address the cost and agility of existing IT portfolios. 

When asked about the use of managed services, executives cited increased interest in leveraging substantial and fully managed applications and infrastructure. 

During the pandemic, CGI says its clients increasingly turned to digital solutions to expedite request processing, information sharing, and decision-making to achieve greater efficiency and business agility. 

Top innovation investments are considered to be modernisation, automation and robotics, and cloud technologies.

“These are the main elements that make up the architecture of today’s technology supply chains,” concluded McGranaghan.