As talk begins to turn toward life beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are recognizing that running their businesses is not so much a case of “new normal” as one of “never normal”. And while it’s natural to hope that what’s happened in recent weeks might be temporary, history shows us that more sea change could be imminent. Crises are often the driver for game-changing social and economic shifts.

Getting people back to work is one of the top of mind issues for business leaders—but it’s not always easy to simply pick up where they left off. Many organizations reduced their workforces. Others were unable to fill jobs fast enough to fuel new demand. What has become clear is that organizations all need to adapt in their own way to suit their own ends—and technology can play a major role in that.

Elastic Workplace

We walk the walk

Accenture has been using technology for some time to transform how we work on a massive scale—and fast. Our way of working “in the New”, now more than 60 percent of our business, strong relationships with leading companies and unique business model has prepared us for uncertainty. We have operated our business as a virtual team without a headquarters, and with our top leaders spread across the globe, for more than three decades. And we give our people tools to support a collaborative workforce; you may recall from my earlier blog, we are the largest user of Microsoft Teams in the world. Our Teams audio usage increased by 282 percent from our typical 350 million minutes per month to nearly one billion minutes per month since the crisis began.

From our experience, here's some of the things we believe we’re all going to need—and know technology can help us deliver—going forward:

  • We’re going to need an elastic workplace—by elastic I mean a highly extendable workplace environment that helps you quickly scale and dynamically adapt to changing business needs based on global and local conditions. Cloud, networking and collaboration tools are all going to be front and center to meet these demands to flex.
  • We’re going to need human resilience—people look to leaders for compassion, care and confidence in times like these. Workers have specific physical, mental and relationship needs—and we can suggest 10 things the C-suite can do now to help meet them.
  • We’re going to need responsive customer service—contact center executives must adopt new ways of working (combining contact centers with remote access); improve contact center management (taking advantage of data, workflow and analytics); and augment and automate service (by deploying virtual agents built using artificial intelligence).

Leveraging the power of technology for resilience
Ramnath Venkataraman, senior managing director–Technology Global Services, talks with Accenture CIO Penelope Prett about what steps Accenture is taking to stay resilient in these unprecedented times.
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Creative crunch time

I like to think that our global IT team is blazing the trail for our own tech strategy. We’re all passionate about technology and believe in the importance of using it to teach and guide others. We’ve seen how it can encourage our people to be creative—within weeks of the coronavirus taking hold across the world one of our teams had developed an app to track, monitor and explain everything COVID-19 related so that our people would be better placed to advise our clients.

CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella talks about “collaborating with research institutions to create an open, machine readable dataset of all scientific literature on COVID-19 [to] develop deeper understandings and approaches to addressing the pandemic” in his March blog on the topic. We’ve embraced that collaboration with Microsoft and Avanade on the Microsoft Teams Rapid Resource Center to make the benefits of Teams available to all organizations—a real differentiator in a working-from-home environment.

In fact, we are working with many leading global companies to find ways that technology can accelerate progress post-COVID-19. For instance, we got together with human resources officers from Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon to keep people employed by using People + Work Connect. The solution is a free, online employer-to-employer platform that helps people quickly identify and fill jobs in locations where there is a need.

I know there are still plenty of big challenges ahead but I am confident that we can all work together to create meaningful change, for our businesses and our teams. If you’re looking to keep your systems running and your people enabled in the never normal, consider asking yourself:

  • What are the building blocks of systems resilience that help us to respond, quickly and reliably, to system vulnerabilities?
  • How can we maintain business continuity and de-risk our operations to serve the business now and in the future?
  • How can we use digital and analytics to manage supply chain complexity and quickly develop a tactical plan for delivering goods and services?
  • How can we better connect our people as individuals and enrich their working day?

I’d like to encourage you to take a look at some of the points of view we have developed to answer these questions and many more. For now, stay safe and stay connected!

Penelope Prett

Chief Information, Data & Analytics Officer

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