Virtual Workforce Revolution Drives Innovation
As the world slowly starts to return to normal (whatever that will look like), businesses that adapted and thrived on the quarantine regulations are continuing to move higher. Major restaurant owners like Darden Restaurants - a stock that hit a low of $26.15 on March 18, 2020 and is currently trading in the neighborhood of $141 - are one of those leading the charge. There are many others as well who innovated, not just to survive but to grow and achieve explosive growth. Companies like Darden Restaurants solved the issue of the lack of foot traffic by ramping up digital ordering and touchless curbside pick-up and delivery services.
On the other hand, many restaurants have “closed” or “out of business” signs in their front windows. Still others have smashed windows and ransacked insides due to the rioting and looting that continues to occur across America and around the world. Some of those businesses simply couldn’t respond or secure proper funding to remain open and innovate. The results became as Drucker stated and they died.
With all the hype surrounding Elon Musk and Tesla, fewer eyes were on Volkswagen, yet VWAGY stock is doing better than TSLA of late. Why? Because Volkswagen are also great innovators. They own great engineering companies, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Bentley. But the new buzz about Volkswagen is their electric car. Volkswagen’s plan to electrify its lineup took a significant step forward with the debut of the 2021 ID.4, an all-electric SUV going on sale this year. While European markets received the ID.3, an all-electric hatchback, VW seemed to think an SUV might be a better choice in the U.S. There is sure to be much more to come in the race for electric vehicle superiority and you can be certain there will be lots of innovation included.
Another giant innovation opportunity has spawned as a result of the Coronavirus lockdowns. The already growing Gig workforce has exploded during the lockdowns and appears to be in permanent expansion going forward. If you are part of such a workforce, you know that it is both different and difficult to implement. From technology to communications to logistics to personnel management, a virtual workforce presents its challenges and can be costly to implement. As a result, technology innovation will be both critical and a huge area of opportunity.
On the flip side, the fact that office leases, utilities, services such as security and so on can be eliminated and the profit picture for some companies is already looking fantastic. It is expected that innovators such as Amazon, Oracle, Walmart, Visa, Microsoft, and others will profit from an additional $85 billion in 2021. Those are some of the reasons it will likely become the new norm in many industries.
There are 4 areas where technology innovation is needed and rapidly evolving in support of work from home employees. And why not? Look at these number of remote staffers just from a handful of companies:
- Fujitsu – 140,000 employees
- Nissan Motors – 136,000 employees
- Bechtel – 11,000 employees
- Schroders – 2,500 employees
- Scripps Health – 15,000 employees
- Prime Healthcare – 40,000 employees
- Anheuser Busch – 200,000 employees
Area number 1 – Unified Communication For some organizations, Zoom-like technologies are no longer versatile or powerful enough to cover their needs. Unified communications simply means having everything needed in a single application. Services such as chat, calling, texting, video conferencing and more with a single click into a cloud service. This “anywhere workplace” environment is present in less than 50% of U.S businesses, so the opportunity remains enormous. The market is projected to expand from $8 billion in 2015 to $79 billion in 2023.
Area number 2 – Virtual Command Center Managing virtual workforce technology requires centralized capability with special function attributes that today and going forward will include Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics Process Applications. Since it is virtually (pun intended) impossible to be at 200,000 desktops (as in the case with Anheuser Busch), simplification, cost reduction and training capabilities all have to be facilitated by virtual command center software to control networks, push software updates, connect remotely for troubleshooting and a host of other tasks. In some ways this resembles e-commerce for IT management. These unified capabilities are “critical to success” factors with enormous demand.
Area number 3 – Automated Collaboration Automated collaboration software for project management, software development, engineering design, marketing content builds, and strategic and tactical communication and brainstorming is growing in utilization and demand. This software dramatically increases productivity and with expanding Gig workforces, the demand is skyrocketing and the innovation increasing.
Area number 4 – Cyber Security We have all read the news stories, which often are also horror stories of cybercrime. And that is on a large scale. Protecting individual employees is also important. Estimates are that effective cyber security is 10 times more critical now than prior to virtual workforce revolution. It has become the highest budget item for IT spending. PHI, as we know, is in high demand and frequently held for ransom by cyber criminals. With the volume of data increasing from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes in 2020, there is much to protect. There is no end in sight for the need for innovative cyber system security software and innovative companies are hard at work to produce excellent products to fill the market void and provide effective safeguards.
The pandemic has brought with it many difficult challenges, including the Remote Workforce Revolution. But in the words of Sir Winston Churchill - “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Let’s be thankful for those who view those obstacles as openings for the development of improved products and innovative ideas.