Understanding the new world of work
The world as we know it is never going to be the same, and work as we know it will never be the same either. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the products and services we use, and how these are delivered to customers. There has been a huge rise in e-commerce and delivery services online, automation and self service.
He said the company currently serves more than 100 million employees, enabling them to work more effectively and efficiently within their organisation and outside of the organisation, bearing in mind the COVID pandemic that has affected the entire world.
“If we have a look at how the world has changed with COVID-19, we have certainly seen an acceleration of digital transformation strategies.”
According to Butler, consumers are expecting greater customer experience as today’s organisations have the tools as well as a bigger picture of what customers want. He said 70% of customers prefer purely digital or a mix of digital and traditional channels.
“The pandemic highlighted that consumers are wanting multiple channels to connect to organisations, particularly as they were not able to use their traditional channels during that time.”
When the pandemic struck, even organisations that had mature remote working policies or mobility policies, as well as established disaster recovery and business continuity strategies, were overwhelmed with the scale of having to transition the entire workforce to working from home or working remotely, he said.
“When working from anywhere, organisations realised that they just didn't have the tool sets to provide to employees. These tool sets started out with the basics, such as providing employees with laptops to access business applications, to providing communication and collaboration tools to enable them to interface with their colleagues and customers.”
In the South African market, the ability to provide connectivity to a lot of home environments proved a challenge because many areas do not have fibre to the home or ubiquitous broadband.
“Many organisations found themselves on the back foot. I don't think there were many PCs or laptops to be had in the marketplace, which certainly led to some other challenges. Many organisations reverted to mobile technologies to be able to provide connectivity to the home, and not only was the tool set from the employee perspective lacking, but also the ability for it to ramp up to provide the needed connectivity.”
Another impact Avaya saw in terms of work from anywhere was the social element. “Specifically in contact centres and customer experience centres which are very dynamic spaces, with a strong social element that is geared for human interaction - all of a sudden your front line as well as your back office employees are isolated in their own environments and, from a work and social perspective, this obviously had a huge impact.”
Butler said Avaya noticed a trend in terms of virtual breakout rooms or coffee rooms. “I think we'll see these trends continuing as employees remain working remotely and as we move into hybrid environments where staff will be rotated between working at the organisation and working remotely.”
Even in terms of upskilling and keeping staff relevant within the organisation, things had to change, he said. “A lot of what we needed to do had to happen online, and virtually, in terms of transitioning from an office environment, to recruitment and then ongoing skills development, particularly when ramping up with additional staff and resources to handle the lockdown.”
He said the company noticed that organisations that had already begun looking at communications and collaboration technologies out of the cloud, and that had already embarked on some of the customer experience strategies with cloud based technologies, were better poised to handle the pandemic. “We noticed that they had an advantage over organisations that hadn't yet investigated cloud models and technologies, who tended to battle in terms of mass rollout of work from home capabilities.”
In the last six months, Avaya has seen an exponential uptake in the adoption and acceleration of journeys to the cloud. “No one budgeted for COVID-19, and one of the benefits a cloud model brings is its flexible consumption and commercial model, which was very compelling given that organisations had to scale at a rapid rate, which they hadn't budgeted for.”