The technology sector can become an engine room for job creation as the economy emerges from the lockdown period of the early response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Verizon Business Group regional vice-president Rob Le Busque.
The information industry has already been relied on as governments, corporates and SMEs have rapidly deployed work from home strategies and accelerated digital transformation agendas in the past three months.
The rethinking of work practices and the rapid adoption of underlying technologies to support new operational models does not stop with the easing of the immediate COVID-19 health crisis, Mr Le Busque said.
Individual organisations will be re-evaluating technology investment strategies to fit the new reality. These would necessarily include a continued re-alignment of technology with remote workers – including its implications for cyber – but also investment planning for changed customer experience models.
“Without a doubt, if there is one over-arching trend that we can take from the events of the last three to four months, it is the rise of the remote worker,” Mr Le Busque told InnovationAus.
“What that means for businesses of any shape or size in Australia, is that they need to think very differently about the technology they have purchased previously and how they deployed it, and they will need to think very differently about the technology they’ll need in the future,” he said.
A “very obvious” target of this technology re-evaluation during this period of rapid transition and change is in the customer experience processes and its supporting tech infrastructure. The reality is that for almost every company, whether their customer is a consumer or another enterprise, they have been forced to change the way that they interact with customers.
“If you think about that dynamic alone, it means innovation and change around the way you run your customer contact centre or call centres, then your customer service capability must change as well.
“There is great potential for innovation [in this area] and a great opportunity for companies to drive new growth.”
At a macro economic level, this rise of the remote worker and the technology challenges it presented are now an potential opportunity for Australia. Specifically, where some supply chain gaps were exposed in the offshoring of some business processes, companies may look to mitigate some of that risk by bringing more of that work onshore.
“The tech sector should be viewed as a job creation engine, and that there is an opportunity bring some of that previously off-shored business process outsourcing capability back to Australia as we seek to ramp up the economy,” he says.
“That’s one area where an innovation-led recovery could sit,” he said. “There are numerous others across industries and across different parts of the technology stack well. But onshoring of business process capability is now an issue that companies could materialise and make real in a very short period of time.”
That is an opportunities not just for the big cities on the eastern seaboard, but for the creation of call centres and customer service operations in the larger regional centres as well.
Regardless, the B2B tech sector will be busy in the coming period in bedding down some of the big digital transformations that occurred at the height of the health crisis. The reality is that while many companies were able to successful accelerate their digital agendas – at full-speed ahead – they will need to revisit the work.
“You have to ask yourself how effective that digital transformation was given that it has been done in such a rushed fashion,” Mr Le Busque said.
“And then once the organisation emerges from the pandemic response, you have to ask yourself ‘how much work have I got ahead of me to make sure that I am still meeting the changed customer dynamic, but then at the same time that I am building a technology stack that will allow my business to operate into the future’,” he said.
“The focus for us has been on talking to our customers about how we can help them to shore up the base [infrastructure] and to help them get to a steady-state operational environment.
“The next question that needs to be answered is about what investments to make. And they need to be prudent investments at this time, because many organisations emerging from the pandemic response will be capital constrained and cash constrained,” he said.
“And they may not have all of the skills and the capabilities in the workforce that they require.”
Rob Le Busque is Regional Vice-President Asia Pacific at Verizon Business Group and a member of the InnovationAus Editorial Leadership Council.