Whether we liked it or not, 2020 taught us valuable lessons about how and why technology business leaders need to future-proof their business models. Normal operations were thrown out the window due to the pandemic, and businesses were forced to make massive leaps forward in terms of adopting and advancing new technology.
Now is the time to take the lessons learned from this pivotal year and apply them to long-term strategic and infrastructure changes.
People collaborated closely with chief nursing officers and healthcare technologists to implement virtual care solutions during the pandemic. We watched as leaders implemented new solutions in a high-stakes environment. Hospitals scrambled to keep up with an unprecedented number of patients, and medical staff tried to protect themselves and others from a virus we didn’t understand.
As we have observed, there are several lessons to be learned about how organisations can look ahead and use technology to position themselves for success in the future — whatever that future may hold.
Here’s what you need to know as a technology business leader to build a genuinely future-proof business model:
1. Future-proofing does not have to be a complex process
Many people are frightened by the concept of future-proofing because it is associated with long-term commitments. When people hear the term “future-proof,” they often think of committing to an entire suite of technology that they’ll have to keep for the rest of their lives. They believe they won’t change the technology to meet new business requirements, but this is not the case.
There is no such thing as a hardware or software system that is future-proof. (Is there anyone out there who still has a PalmPilot?) All technology eventually becomes obsolete, which is why only about 30% of digital transformations succeed.
So, what exactly does it mean to be future-proof? Adopting a specific piece of technology does not constitute future-proofing. It’s all about developing an evergreen business model supported by an infrastructure that does not require significant changes as technology advances.
Thankfully, there are only two requirements for a future-proof platform: power and a high-speed internet connection in every room.
Once you’ve got that, you’re not bound to any particular piece of technology for the rest of your life. The software should be an evolving service, and the hardware should not be so expensive that it cannot be updated, upgraded, or replaced over time.
2. You’re signing up for a strategy rather than a piece of software.
When companies embark on a digital transformation journey, they frequently focus on point solutions rather than platforms or strategies. A device is a point solution; a platform, on the other hand, can add on additional components as needed. Many organisations, in my experience, falter in this area.
We saw healthcare organisations using iPads for virtual care during the pandemic, for example, to reduce patient contact. While iPads are helpful as a temporary solution, they have limitations in a hospital setting.
FaceTime on an iPad is merely a stopgap measure. A virtual-care strategy and a care delivery platform that addresses the entire healthcare continuum are what hospitals need. When you need a comprehensive, integrated security system, installing iPads is like installing a Ring doorbell.
If hospitals want virtual clinical services to become a permanent part of bedside care, they must invest in long-term change management strategies. They must be the best place for their nurses to work, the hospital of choice for patients, and all improvements must help them outperform their financial goals, in addition to perfecting their virtual bedside care. Then they’ll need a platform that can help them achieve their goals.
These ideas have direct parallels in the broader world of the technology business. Employees must be able to work more efficiently as a result of future-proofing efforts. The company must be a desirable place to work for top talent, and business innovations must aid in the company’s competitiveness.
3. Employee concerns must be at the forefront of future-proofing business strategies.
Employees and customers — in that order — are the two most important stakeholders in any organisation. It’s easy to become fixated on your customers and forget about your people in the age of online reviews. However, if you look after your employees, they will look after your customers.
Of course, the situation in healthcare is a little different. No matter what, nurses will look after patients. I’ve seen them make the best of whatever tools they’re given to provide the best possible care, but that doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to burnout or stress. There isn’t anybody.
According to a recent study by Gartner, employees who are moderately stressed underperform by about 5%. Every year, this costs tens of millions of dollars to the average company. Employees experienced an average of 12 changes in their day-to-day work in 2019. Consider how many changes they witnessed in 2020, as well as the enormous amount of stress that essential workers endured.
Because change fatigue can lead to stress, any future-proofing efforts should include an answer to the question, “What’s in it for my employees?” Addressing their concerns contributes to the development of trust and cohesion, two critical factors in reducing employee fatigue and paving the way for change.
For both your employees and your customers, the new way of doing things must be superior to the old way. The use of a combination of in-person and virtual staff is a trend we see in hospitals and tech companies. This is effective because a hybrid of physical and virtual services benefits both employees and customers.
You’ve hopefully had a chance to catch your breath and reevaluate now that the pandemic has been underway for more than a year. This is the year to take what you’ve learned through adversity and apply it to your organisation’s long-term change.
Future-proofing your business model, at its most basic level, entails laying the foundation for adaptability. It involves making your operations better for your employees and customers, both now and in the future.