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What’s next for businesses after surviving the pandemic?

  • Written by Andy Brockhoff, President APAC at Unit4

As we enter our third year living with COVID, businesses’ survival strategies are starting to enter maturity, giving companies room to refocus their efforts from pure survival to the projects they were working on pre-pandemic.

So what’s next for businesses after surviving the pandemic?

Australia’s chronic skills shortage

The focus on survival most often manifests as concentration on productivity and profitability, however, this mindset neglects one of the most pressing issues facing businesses in the coming years: the skills shortage. A recent study by Unit4 found that 90 per cent of organisations worldwide will face challenges with retaining and recruiting talent this year, as well as the overall impact of the pandemic on the job market. Business leaders know that people are the most important asset an organisation has, as there’s no bottom line without being able to lean on the staff around you to help you reach your goals.

Australia was already suffering from a chronic skills shortage that’s only been exacerbated during the pandemic. As we enter a new post-pandemic era, businesses must reassess their priorities to minimise the impact of talent shortages while capitalising on the technology investments they’ve already made to remain competitive in the new era.

Employees are increasingly looking more to their potential employer’s level of technology maturity and workplace culture as reasons to join, even more so than competitive terms like better salaries. This is especially true for companies that shifted to work-from-home or hybrid workplaces during the pandemic. Organisations must apply the same commitment that helped them successfully shift to working from home to digital transformation, which means seeking out agile workplace solutions that can evolve alongside the business and support individual employees.

As a result, an increasing number of employers are turning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms to fulfill these requirements.

ERP enables automation

ERP software helps employers get their jobs done faster and more efficiently by reducing the number of manual processes required for their day-to-day roles. They sit within a company’s IT stack and can handle mundane tasks like accounting, supply chain management, partner procurement, payroll, project management and more. ERP can be mistaken for a platform that just helps businesses allocate resources, but it’s so much more than that, especially since the advent of platforms like low code/no code that empower all employees, not just the IT team, to integrate their own data sets without any programming experience. Businesses struggling to find employees with IT skills should look to these platforms to alleviate the issue, by removing the need for these skills altogether.

During difficult hiring periods like now when access to talent is limited, ERP platforms allow employees and employers to do more with the resources they’re given. These platforms go beyond just a simple collaboration application; employees crave solutions that help them get their jobs done more efficiently or remove mundane tasks altogether so they can focus on what they’re passionate about. Perhaps the true advantage of adopting an ERP platform is how it enables even more efficient workplace practices and innovations, namely automation.

Hyperautomatuon is here

Amid the pandemic while organisations strove for continuous improvements to efficiency has led them down the path of automation, and in turn “hyperautomation,” where businesses try to automate as many businesses processes as possible and eliminate any redundancies. Hyperautomation empowers employees to refocus their efforts away from mundane tasks and towards the work that actually matters. McKinsey estimates that up to 60 per cent of back-office and administration tasks can be automated. For example, a business could automate their invoicing procedure, removing the need for human intervention, saving resources and improving the accuracy of generated invoices.

Organisations can’t start on their automation journey, let alone hyperautomation, without having an integration capability available. Onboarding new systems is one thing, but making sure they can all communicate and freely share data between them is a different challenge altogether, one that’s solved by integration. Businesses need to integrate every data source and enterprise application together to reap the benefits of innovative technology, but that’s easier said than done when you have systems from different vendors with incompatible languages that were never intended to work together. That’s why more businesses are turning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms to serve as the middleman between these systems.

As we enter the new era of COVID, businesses need every advantage they can get not just to stay alive, but to maintain a skilled roster of employees. Business leaders must avoid the mistakes of others before them by allowing fixating on the bottom line while neglecting their staff’s changing expectations. Business leaders must reassess their business priorities for the post-COVID era to truly understand what the technology they’ve just bought does and how staff use it to allow them to thrive in the new normal.

By Andy Brockhoff, President APAC at Unit4

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