Member of parliament wearing face masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, attend the inaugural session of the new Parliament, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday, March 20, 2020. The center-right populist opposition group Ordinary People led by Matovic captured 25% of the Feb. 29 vote. The pro-western Matovic has made fighting corruption the central tenet of his campaign. (Michal Svitok/TASR via AP)
Member of parliament wearing face masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, attend the inaugural session of the new Parliament, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday, March 20, 2020. The center-right populist opposition group Ordinary People led by Matovic captured 25% of the Feb. 29 vote. The pro-western Matovic has made fighting corruption the central tenet of his campaign. (Michal Svitok/TASR via AP)

Covid-19: Quick adaptation is key

By Grant Bodley Time of article published Mar 20, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The coronavirus is exceptionally topical at the moment. 

But, outside of the immediate fear and concern it represents in our personal and professional lives - it is also a litmus for what we would call a “unicorn problem” - those issues we didn't expect, that more often than not require new and unique solutions.

In effect, we’re under pressure as businesses and society to create “unicorn solutions” for “unicorn problems”.

Indeed, Covid-19 raises very real business and economic questions around the resilience of organisations, and the risk management structures they have in place to respond to ever-evolving realities.

What we are certain about is that companies (and indeed our local and global macro economies and societies) cannot afford to stop. There is no pause button for everyday life that lets society take a timeout while we figure out what to do next.

Realistically, companies must continue to run, people must continue to work and societies must continue to function; or it is likely that the economic and social contagion we trigger from our response to Covid-19 will be far more devastating and long-lived than the virus itself.

To a large degree technology is the enabler of these solutions, or is in fact the solution in itself. To be clear, there are very real technology answers to these “unicorn problems”.

Take an increasingly Covid-19 relevant example - such as having to solve the need for employees to be productive and engaged remotely (continuing to be effective without being in the same room) - with no impact on client experience or in a way that compromises the need to protect data and information.

Technology provides a stable platform that enables real solutions around issues such as operational resilience (including business up time, speed to market and people enablement), governance (including cyber security, data protection, regulatory compliance and information governance) and infrastructure (including personal connections that meet enterprise grade standards).

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is right when it says that future economic progress is to a large degree reliant on the role of technology - especially given its ability to solve chronic pain points for businesses, and how it supports the ability to overcome economic and social challenges at a more macro level.

With this, the question is not just about a collection of technical products, but rather how technology companies bring together an ecosystem to enable these solves. It’s absolutely a reflection of the old metaphor of drill versus hole in the wall, with a clear appreciation for the focus on the need for the hole in the wall (or more practically, the solution).

The WEF has identified six key pain points, including: Data sharing and permissions, securing people and processes, informed and agile governance, sustainable digital transformation, access and adoption as well as what it calls “good digital identities” (trade-offs between empowering users and protecting their freedoms) as critical drivers of an inclusive and sustainable “digital future”).

So, while it is estimated that around 60percent of global gross domestic product will be “digitised” by 2022, the emergence of issues such as Covid-19 only serve to highlight the need for new (and urgent) technology solutions that protect businesses, their customers and the economies and societies in which they operate.

I believe that if we really dream about these technology-based solutions, then we can unlock real economic and social challenges. More than this, we can accelerate these solutions at scale and in a way that doesn't just look to cost efficiency as the benchmark for success.

Think about it, no one knows what the next unicorn will look like and what this will mean for the way we live and work. But what we do know is that it will be quick and it will be disruptive. What we also know is that technology will be the largest differentiator in overcoming the next disruptive unicorn.

Together, we can solve for smart outcomes that bring together our technology understanding and the clients’ own deep understanding of their vertical. This creates relativity and stickiness and more importantly solutions that work and that deliver real outcomes. And clients are always happier when there are real outcomes.

If Covid-19 has reminded us of anything it is the role of technology in business and society.

We need to be able to adapt quickly, and with client-first thinking that empowers organisations to adapt to change - because it is not just the strongest who survive, it is those who adapt by embracing intelligent solutions. This is the business of technology. This is the business of intelligent solutions.

Grant Bodley is the chief executive of Dimension Data.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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