The global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is creating significant challenges for leaders at all levels and organisations of all sizes

Hamilton Forth is running a series of virtual networking events, inviting clients to get together online and discuss the challenges currently presented by the COVID-19 crisis, and sharing ideas and best practice as how best to tackle them.  Our most recent virtual event featured digital, transformation, and change professions from a variety of sectors including Further Education, FMCG, Manufacturing, and Healthcare.

Whilst each of these sectors has been impacted and responded in different ways, what is clear is that technology has become the linchpin across sectors, and that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change as never before.

In the second of our three part blog series following the event, we look at how the pandemic is impacting digital transformation for each of the organisations represented.

Digital Moving Up the Agenda

All of our participants agreed that as a result of the pandemic, digital has been pushed up the agenda of boards everywhere.  There is a feeling that to some extent, the crisis has presented an opportunity to fast track change, which should be seen as a positive.  Increased rigour in decision making has also been seen, which is enabling faster change.

Continued Demand for Remote Working

There was agreement from all of our participants that the impact of the virus is likely to mean that many office spaces, lecture theatres etc. will remain empty for the rest of the year, with the majority of those employed in such settings continuing to work, teach, and learn from home.  The direct impact of this is a continued need for robust technology to support remote working, virtual meetings etc.

There is also the need for increased helpdesk support for those staff who will continue working remotely in the medium term, particularly those who have only recently adopted digital working.

Room for Innovation

In healthcare, the need for innovative approaches to new challenges are significant, with apps to track and test the virus, and assess PPE levels etc. being designed and implemented.

With organisations becoming more comfortable with a faster pace of change, as well as the need to be more efficient, there was agreement from participants that now is a time to let go of processes that are outdated or inefficient, and look at the alternatives.

Leadership is Key

With so much change occurring in business and elsewhere, there is a real need for strong leadership.  This is particularly relevant to the adoption of digital technology, particularly for those who are new to digital ways of working.  It is essential that the board and wider leadership team are comfortable with digital processes and are seen to be adopting and using the new technology.

It is clear that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change across all sectors, and in many organisations, fast tracked digital transformation programmes that would previously have taken months, if not years, to fully implement.  Where many have adapted well to these changes, it is clear that businesses support those less comfortable with the new ways of working, with strong leadership key to long term success.

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