This may or may not be the most innovative period in history but it is inarguably a golden age of innovation. And among this widespread modification of how we live and work companies must adapt or die, as they have done for centuries. Unfortunately, we also have to cope with a world largely characterised by political and economic uncertainty.
A powerful majority of South African employees believe their companies aren’t bringing enough innovative new technologies or business processes to adapt to the changes.
“I believe my company should do more to implement new technology and processes to adapt to the changing landscape,” say 77% of South African employees responding to research conducted on behalf of Ricoh by Quocirca and Coleman-Parkes.
Not far behind that large group are 73% who believe newer technologies and tools will “significantly increase connectivity, meaning more workforce communication will be done via technology rather than face-to-face.” It can be difficult to imagine new forms of communication when what we have today seems so sophisticated, so efficient, and so complete. Email, instant messengers, mobile phones with greater coverage than ever, - it seems that only telepathy could improve the way we communicate with each other these days.
Yet it’s almost impossible for those of us in the West to pick up a phone and have a conversation with someone in China. In fact, when you get down to it, it’s almost impossible for an easy conversation between multiple parties across the different regions of Africa that may include languages considered to be part of the international bouquet: Portuguese, French, and English. But artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to the aid of many in that sphere with potent software capable of translating on the fly. There’s even a smartphone and tablet app that automatically translates street signs in several languages. Your employees expect you’ll soon offer them those tools so they can do business with whomever they need to.
66% of surveyed employees believe two things:
1) disruption and economic change will force their companies to be more creative with resources to be competitive, and
2) they expect their business to be in a stronger position by the end of 2017 than it was at the beginning.
The message could not be clearer that employees expect their employers to innovate and that innovation will lead to stronger, healthier organisations. The silent conclusion is that those companies that don’t will see their fortunes wane. And, as I said earlier, 77% of employees currently feel their organisations aren’t doing enough.
The good news is that a comparatively minor about one-third of employees (35%) are nervous about the world of change landing on their doorsteps in 2017 and (32%) expect that, no matter what they and their employers do, businesses will suffer in 2017 as a result of the changing political, economic, and digital landscapes.
However, the message is that South African companies need to do more to bring their employees the empowering communications and collaboration technologies they need to cope with the mounting global pressures in a world of change.
Jacques van Wyk is the COO of Ricoh SA.