Innovation needs to be a priority for Irish businesses post-pandemic

Irish businesses should use the lessons learnt during the pandemic to create the workplace of the future, writes Neil Thurston from Logicalis.

Business leaders need to redefine workstyles and empower people using the digital workplace as we move forward from pandemic times. That means equipping people with optimised spaces, streamlined processes and cutting-edge technologies which support collaboration, productivity and innovation.

In turn, this will enable organisations to overcome the challenges posed and capitalise on opportunities presented by hybrid working, ensuring they can operate effectively despite varied routines, disparate locations and different time zones.

“Innovation – as a driver for businesses during both challenging and successful times – can’t be neglected”

Essentially, it’s using the lessons learnt during the pandemic to create a workplace of the future that is more effective, innovative and successful than before – one that delivers an enhanced digital experience and empowers employees. In turn, companies can boost output, improve service delivery and drive business growth. 

Why do it?

By improving the employee experience, you can enable people to work more efficiently and effectively, while boosting satisfaction and productivity levels. With happier, more efficient staff, customer service and service delivery levels are also likely to improve.

Enabling remote or hybrid working also ties in with this, allowing people to work how, when and where they want. However, this is dependent on companies embracing flexibility and equipping people with the tools and technologies to easily and securely access company systems and information – regardless of where they work.

That means secure home networks, devices and communication tools. This investment will reap rewards as staff will be better able to fulfil their roles and work when suits, which means they are likely to be more productive.

This also benefits the company in terms of talent retention and attraction. Hybrid working is the future and can aid innovation, but only if the digital workplace is supported and business leaders are willing to embrace it.

How to do it?

The digital workplace needs to have the right technologies to facilitate connectivity, enable communication and uphold security. With trends like low code and business analytics, users now have access to tools and technologies that make their lives easier and automate tasks.

It makes business sense to make use of these, however, you must first understand the lay of the land. There is no point in jumping straight in and embracing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) without mapping it out. That means identifying where improvements can be made, where dependencies are and what benefits will be delivered to the organisation with this technology.

Undoubtedly, the easiest route to innovation is the cloud. As well as being instantly available, it is more cost-effective than other deployments. However, it’s not without its challenges. The adoption curve is the hardest part, and a lot of companies will find that they lack the skills to configure the technology.

The partner piece can deliver real value here because expert providers have the ability to step back from the innovation piece and assess the strategy from a business perspective in terms of how it aligns and can be implemented. Essentially, they can flatten that curve through managed services and ongoing support, allowing the organisation to focus on business objectives.

Whatever route a company takes, continuously investing in innovation is crucial. According to the CSO, in 2020, Irish enterprises spent a total of €7.4bn on innovation, an increase from 2018’s figure of €5.5bn. Perhaps the pandemic accelerated this spend out of necessity, but it highlights that innovation – as a driver for businesses during both challenging and successful times – can’t be neglected.

It’s also vital to remember that what works in one company won’t necessarily work for another, even if they operate in the same space. Finding a suitable and beneficial innovation for your people and business is key to project or programme success – for both today and the future.

Neil Thurston
Neil Thurston is chief technologist at Logicalis UK and Ireland.