Business resilience is about people

23rd November 2020 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the central importance of people in enabling businesses to adapt to new challenges and ensuring that organisations remain resilient and capable of delivering value to customers.

During a recent panel discussion, Central Bank of Kenya governor Dr Patrick Njoroge said that the global health crisis had forced businesses to introspect deeply to determine how they could continue to serve their customers.

"The biggest point is that it was about people and less about systems and such, and how we can, in the medium-term, make staff more adaptable; for example, by having a bank teller become a customer service provider for the bank. Having staff that are more adaptable is also important so that they can be retrained to fulfil a different role quickly," he said.

People are at the core of any resiliency strategy, concurred cloud and platform services multinational Oracle Europe, Middle East and Africa business development senior VP Andrew Sutherland.

"Technology can help, such as with remote training to reskill people, and can support the core element of any resilience strategy, which is people," he said.

The adversity humans are facing has led to tighter partnerships and greater willingness to understand each other's perspectives, Sutherland added.

Telecommunications network and service provider MTN Côte d'Ivoire CEO Djibril Ouattara noted that, as an information and communication technology (ICT) company, MTN had to prepare its people and its network to deal with the challenges of lockdown to continue to deliver services to its customers.

"Resilience is about people, and we had to ensure our people were able to perform their duties as we introduced work from home for all staff. We had to align our network with the new demands, including the dramatic reduction of voice services and the growth of data, as well as providing track-and-trace capabilities for the government. There were some challenges related to our supply chains not operating fully, but we were able to improve our network resilience to meet the ongoing needs," he said.

Meanwhile, Oracle West Africa regional director Annick Sakho commented that while the pandemic was originally perceived as a situation to which short-term solutions had to be found, it had resulted in the long-term transformation of operating conditions.

With all the adjustments made to face the pandemic, it was realised that these measures could be put in place for the long term and ensure that investments made to alleviate the situation amid low revenue were something that could maximise Fourth Industrial Revolution outcomes in the long-term, she said.

Sakho said customers reached out to Oracle and their other service providers to use technology solutions to learn more about their clients, and leverage new technology to realise their strategies to be resilient.

The current situation has also underscored the importance of leadership in an organisation's direction and agility. Leaders are now more involved in decision-making about technologies, and more companies have put in place the technology to start digital transformation.

"Such leaders are in a better position to steer their companies through the medium term and make correct decisions to overcome operational challenges and improve their resiliency over the long term."

Ghana Community Network Service deputy GM and international ICT professional body Information Systems Audit and Control Association Ghana president Carl Sackey also noted that companies that started early on with digitalisation and preparing their people recovered more quickly than their peers.

“Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalisation journey for most companies, and the concept of digitalisation was made practical for many businesses," he said.