For many businesses, the new year represents a chance to leave behind a difficult 2022, defined by economic uncertainty and growing living costs, forcing companies to make cuts, freeze headcount or scale back projects. However, looking towards the future could swiftly stifle hopes of a fresh start, with the CBI predicting further recession until 2024 and the British Chambers of Commerce foreseeing a “long road to recovery.”
So, what can businesses and business decision-makers do to respond to these continued challenges? The answer is twofold: firstly organisations must make better use of the technology, resources, and skillsets already available to them, increasing the efficiency, quality and effectiveness of what they’re currently doing.
Secondly, businesses should adopt technology solutions that provide quick return on investment, namely tech solutions that can cut down workloads, reduce backlogs and increase business agility without ripping and replacing the entire technology stack.
Businesses that take this pragmatic, but proactive approach will find themselves able to navigate economic challenges through 2023 and beyond.
MAXIMISING CURRENT CAPABILITIES
The prospect of digital transformation can be daunting, especially at a time when budgets are razor thin and skills are in short supply. In fact, our survey of IT decision makers across the UK showed that over half (59%) either plan to, or already have decreased their IT budget.
As such, reconciling the demand for modern powerful tools with realistic budgetary requirements has encouraged organisations to sustain technology through a multi-generational plan, where tools are prioritised and valued on their immediate return on investment.
One trend taking hold is a difference in the way that digital transformation is being defined and implemented. The “rip and replace” model is now outdated; instead businesses should be utilising their existing long-term investments alongside new tech investments.
The role of APIs, automation and modern integration solutions are therefore more important than ever. These solutions guarantee legacy assets can continue to deliver value, at scale and in a modern architecture – by ensuring integration across in-house and off-the-shelf technology, as well as on-premises and in the cloud.
Similarly, technology skills within the business are now vital, and with talent still in short supply, businesses must ensure their most valuable employees are able to make their mark on the company – and not be bogged down with repetitive and mundane tasks.
AUTOMATING AND AUGMENTING
This leads us nicely to the topic of automation. Automating manual, repetitive processes such as gluing together new applications and platforms can save IT staff time and effort and allow them to focus on the stuff that really matters.
From our study we found that this integration backlog contributed the single most demand on IT decision-makers’ time, with 47% of respondents pointing out integration inefficiencies as a major workload burden.
Thankfully, businesses are beginning to address this as over half of surveyed IT decision-makers are beginning to manage their workloads by investing in AI and automation technologies to eliminate manual work.
These technologies can augment teams, empowering them with the tools they need to accelerate themselves within the business and reach their full potential, as well as also having vital benefits in binding together people and tools whilst breaking down silos within the business.
Adopting this proactive approach, whilst also being pragmatic about maintaining, sustaining and improving legacy assets, can help a business to weld together different modern, legacy, cloud and on-premise tools and find a solution that is not only cost-effective but also adaptable, as elements are replaced over time.
In this sense “transformation” of the IT estate never stops, but rather the priorities and size of projects as well as the value of different tools – ebb and flow. The key is in developing the mindset of continuous and steady improvement which can both future proof the organisation and allow it to adopt modern tools where they are needed.
EASING PRESSURES AND OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
In 2023, the CBI recommends “co-ordinated action to enable upskilling and automation across businesses to ease pressures”. This is a sentiment shared amongst many in the industry, as businesses are realising they can no longer afford the cost of the manual workload backlog or the waste of valuable employees’ time and efforts. It is now vital for businesses in tough economic circumstances to look at targeted solutions with rapid returns on investment – typically within 60 to 90 days – which in many cases simply means looking for ways to make better use of existing tools, focusing on increasing efficiency rather than increasing the quantity of products.
These solutions, which can simultaneously free up staff and connect tools and data together, can make a genuine impact on a business’s ability to recover and ultimately overcome the recession.