By John Chambers, Director – IT, Communication, Workplace, Business Process & Application Services at Ricoh UK
Following what can only be described as a tumultuous year, businesses across the UK and Ireland are looking for ways to make operations smoother and perform better than ever before. As a digital services company, Ricoh works closely with organisations of all sizes to develop carefully curated plans to solve their biggest needs. By doing this, we have identified three critical trends which will only grow in 2021 as people continue turning to tech. These three trends are the total experience, privacy-enhancing computation and distributed cloud. All three technologies work to tighten up and automate process, digitise experiences and help you make your customer journey that much sweeter.
The total experience
The role of customer experience has always been crucial. Without a doubt, the approaches businesses adopt has been steadily evolving year by year to account for more information, be more intuitive, and provide a better, more inclusive and encompassing approach.
The total experience takes the customer that one step further to encompass the employee experience. Businesses with employees working remotely have faced tech and process difficulty, which has hindered customers' experience.
At Ricoh, we have long been pushing businesses, including our own, to put people at the centre of their strategy. By uniting siloed groups, your employees are in a better position to serve your customers. Certainly, other aspects such as process and technology are key, but these both feed into the experience. If we look at the aforementioned role of remote working, our Conscious Workplace Report found that 54% of managers were struggling to support employee with mental health and motivation in remote environments. Such a disconnect between management and employees can result in a negative experience that can disengage employees, reduce productivity, and in turn, impact the quality of your client service.
You would be hard-pressed to find a successful organisation that doesn't put people at its heart. It is a crucial step in optimising your operations, so as you evolve your working practices in 2021, you must make sure employees can perform better than ever before. To select the right technology you need to understand your businesses culture and put people at the heart of all your decisions. Only after doing this can you guarantee you have consciously chosen the right technology, the right communication tools and the right collaboration platforms to perform to a high standard every day.
Privacy Enhancing Computation
Many things happened in 2020 you couldn't have predicted, and one of the most shocking was how unprepared businesses were to work remotely while maintaining cybersecurity. It seemed like every other week, there was another new story about a massive company data breach, and it exposed the gaps in business cybersecurity as ransomware attacks increased 715% in 2020. Despite the media attention ransomware attacks and data breaches were getting, the Ricoh Conscious Workplace report found that still 20% of managers were concerned around network security in a home working situation.
Following the UK's exit from the EU, businesses will be finding themselves in an even trickier data regulatory situation than ever before – especially those with businesses in different countries. Where the sharing of data was consistent in what was and wasn't allowed to be moved from country to country, the lined get a little blurrier.
Ultimately, we live in a world where business is global, but business practices aren't. There is little room for human error. When businesses look to become more global or expand their operations, they need to create frameworks that allow for multiple regulatory requirements while servicing international clients' needs. It's a case of ensuring you understand the environment you have and ensuring the right processes are implemented which take in key regulation and legislation when designing your environment in a protected way.
Software like DocuWare is a great example of how businesses can use technology to aid in digital collaboration while protecting data. The software allows businesses to enable employees to function from wherever they are and collaborate like they're in an office and complete their day-to-day tasks while using encryption to protect sensitive client and business data from being breached.
Technology should be there to securely serve your customers while streamlining the process for your employees. Something like privacy-enhancing computation will allow you to have a replicable service across borders and businesses, making it adaptable and agile for the modern world.
In the world of tech, 2020 was the year of the cloud. Due to the overnight need for remote and agile working, businesses turned to cloud to help facilitate the transition and allow employees to function as they would in the office while at home. At Ricoh, we've been singing the praises of the cloud for years and were thrilled to see so many businesses and clients take the jump and digitally transform their systems.
However, the future of cloud won't simply lie in purchasing more memory space but instead in how it's distributed and the development of better management. Distributed cloud environments offer different cloud options for different physical locations, which offers you a personalised service allowing you to tailor your customer services and outputs. For instance, when working with international customers, you're dealing with complex and different data regulations which need to be met. The ability to leverage and scale data across borders by utilising distributed cloud offers businesses an unparalleled opportunity to provide a new form of professional services. Should businesses be uncomfortable with their data and their clients' data sitting on a public cloud, distributed cloud, lets them silo the information and better protect it while allowing them to reap the benefits of this technology.
Overall, 2021 will be the year business to streamline the services they have invested in 2020 and take a more personalised approach to how they function to offer a personalised approach to their customers. By examining how you can improve employee experience and navigate a continually globalising world, you can determine which technology adaptation would best suit you. In our opinion, at Ricoh the role of total experience, privacy-enhancing computation and distributed cloud are all excellent first steps most businesses can adopt to make 2021 a more successful year than 2020.