Over the last 12 months; the rate of change in the global business environment has accelerated more rapidly than we have ever experienced.  In fact some observers claim that in the last 12 months; we have compressed more than 5 years of change, disruption and advancement in business operations as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This level and speed of change brought with it significant existential risk to many organisations and industries even.

 

In such a climate; resilience and agility have been the most critical features that organisations have had to have to ensure survival and to thrive.  Organisations who were already committed to technology pre-Covid were undoubtedly those who secured themselves with greater agility when the pandemic hit.

 

The recent and inaugural edition of FutureProof with Dimension Data, in association with Business Day explored how leading organisations leveraged information technology – with a focus on Hybrid Cloud – to introduce and strengthen resilience and agility in their organisations.

 

“The pandemic had a massive impact on our business.  One of our responses was to split our management team into two groups: one to manage the immediate challenges, including safety issues, while the second group responded to the needs of the business. The management teams were empowered to make decisions given that these needed to be made quickly.” Said David Munro, CEO of Liberty Holdings Limited in an interview with Mudiwa Gavaza of Business Day; host of FutureProof.

 

For the first time in its 62-year history, Liberty announced a loss this year, which was largely the result of a R3 billion set aside reserve to deal with additional claims as a result of the pandemic. The loss, said Munro, was but the group living its purpose and meeting its promises to customers ahead of profit generation.

 

“Our business has traditionally relied on face to face sales where a customer sits down with an advisor and shares his or her dreams, fears, desires and needs with the conversation concluding with a transaction in support of one of our products,” he explained, adding that this traditional format obviously could not happen and took a while to recover once lockdown restrictions were eased.

 

However, Covid provided Liberty with an opportunity to accelerate its own digital transformation, including implementing a digital engagement platform.

 

Key to navigating this uncertain period has been resilience and agility. Pointing out that resilience has many dimensions, he said that in Liberty’s case it applied in particular to its operations, technology, and arguably the most important, to people.

The business adopted three statements to inspire its leadership: imagine it’s possible; act with humanity; and just do what matters.

 

While the business previously ran a stream of parallel strategies, during the Covid crisis these were all condensed into one stream which focused on three elements: simplifying the business as much as its possible; evolving as quickly as possible in order to drive up competitiveness; and transforming the group to become a modern, digital business.

 

A panel including Dr Setumo Mohapi – Chief Go To Market Officer at Dimension Data Middle East & Africa; Raymond van Dongen – Global Business Director for IT at PayU; and Carl Snyman – Principal Solution Architect at Acacia discussed the importance of Hybrid Cloud solutions to drive innovation competitiveness and future-proofing businesses in these turbulent times.

 

The consensus from FutureProof is that digital transformation is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but rather a business imperative vital to an organisation’s future sustainability. Never before has technology played such a critical role both from an operational and strategic role.

 

Highlights from the NTT Dimension Data 2021 Hybrid Cloud Report  – developed from a study of 950 senior business and IT executive leaders in 13 countries across five industry sectors; were also shared at the session. According to the Report; more than two-thirds of the respondents  agreed that business agility and the ability to respond to change will be driving decision-making over the next 12 months. Furthermore; the Report also found that the biggest driver towards adoption hybrid cloud lies in reducing cost inefficiencies in IT operations.

 

The 2021 NTT Dimension Data Hybrid Cloud Report is available for download at www.dimensiondata.com

 

Stay tuned for the next event in the FutureProof Virtual Series where we bring industry leaders together to share insights and practices that promote business readiness for an unpredictable future.