In 2021, business was characterized by a continued reshaping of the ways of working as the world morphed to embrace life with COVID-19.
This shift catalyzed digital transformation across verticals as leaders increased reliance on the virtual space to maintain profitability while protecting work teams and contributing to the stability of national economies.
By April 2021, more than half of those who became unemployed at the onset of the pandemic in July 2020 were reinstated (Labour Market Survey, April 2021). Moreover, the Jamaican economy witnessed a 5.8% growth in 2021’s third quarter relative to the corresponding period in 2020 (CARICOM Business, January, 2022).
Naturally, technologies of every kind had to keep pace with organisational demands in order to support economic growth. And the developments in workforce management, payments and security, especially, were core to organisational resilience throughout the year.
With COVID-19 forecasted to sustain its impact for the near term, it is a reasonable expectation that 2021’s technological advancements in core areas will continue to preserve business continuity in 2022.
According to Dwayne Russell, general manager, MC Systems “digital innovations in these arenas will find success to the degree that they meet each industry’s unique demands in these unusual times.”
Russell offered his thoughts on these three areas and the impact he anticipates they will have on businesses in the months to come.
Remote Work Will Require Integrated and Automated Workforce Management Solutions
The Economist has declared 2022 “the year of the worker”. Jamaican companies such as JN Group and the JMMB Group are already settling remote work policies (70% and over 40% of some jobs respectively). The nation’s Global Services Sector is expected to have permanent policies for remote work, which could impact nearly 50% of its 40,000 strong workforce. These are but a few indications that the new work orders will be even more employee-centric than before.
“Managing in the pandemic meant that human capital and workforce management became strategic imperatives in response to the remote work. But as organisations struggled to contain operational costs many implemented automated solutions to cauterize expenditure,” Russell revealed.
Illustrating the benefits that accrued to compensation solutions, for example, he explained: “Companies that overhauled payroll solutions in 2021 opted for autonomy of processing payroll independent of third-party intervention or support. This also meant prioritizing a more user-friendly version that integrates some core HR features.”
“Given the digital revolution, payroll/HR leaders need workforce management solutions – tools that can manage all HR processes, be useful throughout the employment lifecycle while avoiding duplicate data entry. The key is open APIs. With this capability, users can choose an all-in-one system, or integrate an existing payroll system into a full-suite HRM if additional functionality is needed,” he rationalized.
If the Economist’s prediction holds and Russell’s expertise supports that position, the payroll technology for 2022 will be solutions that allow seamless digital integration, giving the employee experience priority.
Contactless Payment Solutions: The Rise of the Digital Wallet
In recent years – and no doubt spurred by the pandemic – payments have become embedded, invisible and more focused on customer experience, facilitating easy peer-to-peer transactions.
The 2021 CAPGemini World Payments Report revealed that the payment industry is poised to boom. In response to the pandemic, non-cash transactions are set to grow by 18% by 2025 – with next-generation payments forecasting 1.8trillion in non-cash transaction volume by the end of this period.
In fact, the demand for next-gen payment solutions for SME segments, such as mobile wallets, contactless checkout and cross-border remittances are paving the way for tomorrow’s payments landscape.
In outlining the looming effects of this Russell suggested: “This is likely to result in the banking sector implementing strategies to adopt virtual wallets and other frictionless payment solutions as a means of banking, or risk their profitability.
“As a result 2022 could see more banks moving towards creating virtual wallets, similar to Lynk (being implemented by NCB), as well as adopting payment options and technologies for the customers’ convenience.”
In tandem with this prediction, the BOJ is already making accommodation with Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in business and consumer transactions – such as consumer to business (C2B), peer-to-peer (P2P) as well as business to consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B), all of which will accelerate its ability to phase out printing notes.
“This will further the adoption of digital wallets and create new opportunities with programmable money,” Russell asserts.
Cybersecurity Solutions: Multilayered Security Or Nothing
With everything moving to the digital realm, the expectation is business will become more vulnerable as hackers gain access to more powerful tools. Last year hackers put these tools to the test, racking up nearly 500 million attempted cyber security breaches by September 2021 – according to SonicWall, a Silicon Valley Internet security company.
According to US-based threat intelligence outfit UNIT 42 the average ransomware payment climbed to $570,000 in the first half of 2021, up from $312,000.
It is therefore little wonder PwC’s 2022 Global Digital Trust Insights survey deemed 2021 as one of the most volatile years on record for Cybersecurity. The findings also revealed that of the more than 3000 C-suite respondents (from all major industries and governments representing every continent) 25% expect to see double-digit investments in Cybersecurity solutions in the New Year.
Russell foretells increased vigilance in 2022 given that moving to the digital realm has made businesses more vulnerable to data breaches.
“The onslaught of corporate cyber attacks has given rise to the field of DevSecOps, which is a merger between DevOps and Security. Whereas DevOps is based on a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops), DevSecOps extends security practices into the DevOps approach. This merger and its anticipated growth in 2022 are designed to ensure that security permeates every aspect of technology development, deployment and operations,” he points out.
Given the detrimental impact that an attack can have on a business – disruption in operations, loss of sensitive data, financial payments to cyber terrorists, etc – it is expected that business leaders will treat this matter of security with the importance it warrants. Additional fortifying of data security should come from regulations, especially as regards data protection.
No matter how 2022 fares in the face of the pandemic – now in its third year – bulking up data security, optimizing automated and integrated workforce management solutions and maximizing the benefits of contactless payments will be top-of-mind for the future-proofing business leader.
SIDE BAR PIECE
The 2022 Business Tech Watch List:
The technologist also revealed tech and trends that businesses leaders should keep an eye on for 2022.
The Rise of Empathy Services
The effects of the pandemic on the mental well-being of work teams have underscored the need for leadership groups within the organization to step outside themselves and expand their perspectives on the support needed by their teams.
Entities such as the United Nations and the New York Times have used Virtual Reality tech to help with stimulating empathy among work groups. The Forbes HR Council reports that companies have found great benefits to leveraging “the human factor of work with the efficiencies of technology” in the form of AI to provide empathy support for work teams. While Gartner proffers that conversational platforms (assistants and chatbots) would prove to be a boost to employee self-services.
There has been an increase in the support services available to teams including fellowship and ministry, counselling, retreats, etc. On the horizon is likely to be empathy related services such as mental health days and perhaps health insurance coverage that extends to mental health care.
The new digital-focused ways of working will require new skills for sustainable profitability within organisations. As such organisations are expected to facilitate the up-skilling of work teams in areas such as:
- Cybersecurity – to help build a cybersecurity culture by improving awareness and competence about how and ways the organisation is impacted by the threat and the preventative measures to manage the phenomenon;
- Technology Project Management – to help orient teams in understanding the nuances of technology implementation as companies look to introduce more technology in more areas across organisations as the migration of integrated infrastructures take hold in the market;
- Product Management – to put the right skills in place to ensure that products and services evolve to keep up with customer demands and preferences and;
- Data Analytics – to help sharpen insight toward the discovery of new ideas and for more agile decision making throughout organisations
Open banking speaks to a financial services model that allows third parties to build customer-facing solutions around the resources of traditional financial institutions. This approach, also referred to as banking-as-a-service, could be a meaningful catalyst to sector transformation.
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