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Business Survival in Uncertain Times Requires Digital Resilience

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Digital Resilience
(Source: Pixabay)

IT leaders understand better than anyone the critical role digital technologies play in the way businesses operate today. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of transformation to remote and hybrid working, meaning that an effective and accessible digital workplace is the new non-negotiable for any business. The urgent need to establish digital resilience means IT teams now have a leading role to play in underpinning business success in the new world of work.

What do we mean by digital resilience?

Digital resilience is not just a crisis response. It's a valuable long-term requirement for any agile organization. It defines an organization's ability to survive and grow in a fast-changing environment, having the tools to evolve and adapt to the times. Think about your experiences of digital service provision during the pandemic. The proliferation of apps that enable you to order groceries or book virtual appointments demonstrates the way businesses have had to adapt quickly to survive during the crisis.

The wholesale shift to digital working for most knowledge businesses means that IT teams must now take responsibility for enabling business continuity and survival. That means finding digital ways to facilitate proactive and continuous planning, to align the work people are doing with fast-changing strategies, and to enable continuous feedback to guide ongoing adaptation.

So, what are the digital tools IT teams will need in their armory to enable such agile strategic planning, remote work alignment, and cross-functional collaboration?

Planning in uncertain times

Let’s consider strategic planning first. In a world that is changing more rapidly than ever, it’s clear that traditional approaches to strategic planning are too slow and inflexible. Annual planning cycles and strategy setting will quickly lead to a disconnect between strategic objectives and the work people need to do every day.

Instead, businesses need to plan and adapt much more quickly in response to fast-changing demands and market conditions. Strategic plans must be able to flex if they are to remain effective and relevant as the external environment changes at pace. Such planning agility can only be achieved if leaders have visibility into the work happening across the business in real time to inform their decision-making.

Visibility via work management

One digital tool that enables this level of visibility is work management. It provides a central system of record for all work going on in the business and enables everyone to view progress on goals, plans, project schedules, approvals, and communications associated with every job. Leaders can access this data to inform agile decision-making, while employees can keep track of progress and see how their work feeds into the company's strategic objectives.

Scenario planning software is another valuable addition to your agile planning toolbox. It helps leaders to quickly assess the effects of different options or actions on the organization's work. By comparing various scenarios at the planning stage, leaders can select the optimum actions to implement at every turn to fulfill the company's strategic objectives.

Keep remote work aligned with your goals

The next challenge is to align all of the work across your business to your organizational objectives. It all starts with the way work as an activity is viewed by the organization. Managing the work of widely dispersed individuals is particularly challenging, and organizations that are not managing work effectively need to rethink their approach.

It’s imperative that work is viewed as a strategic “tier-one” asset, which is given the same executive attention and oversight as other tier-one assets such as finance, HR, and sales. Treating work as a strategic asset will ensure that the right people are working on the right things at the right time and that all work is aligned to the company's objectives. It will enable projects and teams to be organized more effectively as cross-functional units – rather than into discrete function-related silos. Remote working assists this type of cross-disciplinary practice since the collaboration technologies available today enable anyone, wherever they are located, to work with others in any site or team.

Work management supports the tier-one approach to work, enabling projects to be managed centrally across multiple teams and allowing individuals to coordinate their work in a way that connects it to the organization's objectives. It's highly motivating for employees working in isolation from each other to see how their work contributes to the company's success.

IT delivers resilience in a volatile world 

As we move into the post-pandemic recovery phase, IT teams can help businesses cope with continued uncertainty and unpredictability. In such a volatile environment, the digital resilience of your organization is central to its ability to plan, orchestrate, measure, manage and prioritize activities. IT teams have the necessary understanding of digital technologies and their capabilities to implement solutions that help to align work and enable collaboration across remote workforces.

There are many elements to digital resilience, from enabling basic connectivity to securing your infrastructure, but a work management application provides particular value. It connects all the different technologies used across your teams and provides the central system of record for work across the organization. It levels the playing field for employees working from anywhere by connecting them to what's going on, what's important now, and what's coming up. It also gives leaders the right level of visibility into work, so they can see what's going well and where they need to focus efforts to achieve the desired outcomes. 

Scott Lee is Head of Product Management at Workfront, an Adobe Company.