On April 23, the National Football League held its first virtual draft. Though league and team officials were at first skeptical, the draft was graded as a huge success. General Managers around the league used words like awesome, fantastic and outstanding to describe their experience. The overwhelming sentiment: the virtual draft conducted in homes humanized the event and allowed for unprecedented time with family over past processes. As Les Snead, general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, concluded, “The draft may have just evolved.”
Evolved, or been catapulted into the future? History has been characterized by sudden, major shifts. The role of government in the financial system was redefined by the Great Depression. WWII gave rise to manufacturing innovation that established the United States of America as an industrial powerhouse. After 9/11, protections of critical national infrastructure were enacted and remain. The market crash of 2007 accelerated off-shore production (a move whose reverse is now being accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
The global crisis of Covid-19 has given rise to greater attention to online learning, work from home, streaming and video communication, and service deliveries. Almost overnight, we became a “shut-in” economy.
In times of crisis, leaders recognize implications that merit consideration, and intentional changes that will be part of our future fabric.
We can expect delays, adjustments and changes in the immediate. Some implications: 5G will likely be on hold and give way to 4G LTE upgrades on towers. Bandwidth will be conserved and streaming traffic prioritized. Phablets and full-sized desk work will be more effective for at-home work than smartphones and laptops. Legacy devices will not be discarded quickly. We will figure out what it means to have flexible work days and work hours; people will work based on their own natural, physical preferences and on their family and social rhythms. We will of necessity need to end the digital divide and innovate telework efficiencies. Smart glasses will increase as physical workforces require virtual supervision or expertise.
Sooner than later, we will need strategies for remote work, new product delivery, self-service options, agile decision making and increased security architecture.
Five Key Areas for Leadership Now
- Digitization and IT Coordination
- Net spending will be down. However, focused spending will increase. IT strategies will be refocused, and they certainly cannot be planned in a vacuum. The CIO needs to work with his peers with an intensified focus on strategic planning for the digital future. Rapid listening is required. Together, leadership needs to coordinate short term tactics with long term strategy.
- Full steam ahead on digital transformation
- Companies that embraced digital technology are seeing a 7% increase in revenue growth over their peers during this Covid crisis. By 2022, 80% of revenue growth depends on digital offering and operations.
- Process Automation
- Robotic Process Automation and Smart Process Automation will combine with machine learning, AI, data and cloud to improve processes and create needed models.
- Strengthen data analytics
- Data infrastructure is only increasing in value as a strategic asset. The ability to find data, make conclusions and support decisions in a rapid listening, agile adjustment business environment is no longer a competitive edge, it’s an essential behavior.
- Virtual shifts working with physical shifts
- Though Covid-19 adjustments have forced virtual workplaces to the forefront, the economic and psychological upsides will thrust this dynamic to be a norm, not just a model. Those working physical shifts will have the ability to work with virtual teams, and the technology adapted to support the work will increase the effectiveness and efficiency beyond what was known.
It takes longer to adopt a new way of doing things than it does to adapt in how to do them. Crisis forces adoption and inspires adaptation.
The experience of the NFL will be most people’s experience: I can work as effectively, without as much travel fatigue, and have more time with loved ones. Outstanding.