2022 will be the year to prioritize employee experience in the wake of huge changes in working norms. It will also be a time to reassess pandemic-driven IT fixes to make sure they remain fit for the future.
Brexit made fewer headlines last year due to the pandemic but it continues to bite. The UK’s data privacy laws are set to diverge from the GDPR this year, so compliance will become more challenging for any business operating across Europe. And global enterprises should prepare for tougher privacy legislation across the world, too.
Read on for our predictions on how businesses will tackle these IT challenges in 2022.
Technology prediction #1: CX software and process automation will enhance the employee experience
Last year the priority was improving the digital customer experience as businesses battled for customer loyalty in an increasingly online world. This year we will see more digital projects aimed at enhancing the digital employee experience and helping workers deal with the fallout from the pandemic.
One notable COVID-19 side-effect was ‘the great resignation’: employees leaving their jobs in large numbers after experiencing burnout or re-evaluating their career choices during lockdown.
The result has been employers having to recruit more people, more regularly – and often remotely. To reduce the pressure on existing teams and ease new starters into their roles, organizations will adapt ‘traditional’ customer experience technologies such as journey orchestration for employee onboarding. As with customer journeys, standard employee onboarding processes can be mapped out and then personalized to the individual.
Since the pandemic, employees have come to expect greater flexibility over when and where they work – with hybrid working becoming the norm. In 2022 we can expect to see more organizations using smart workspaces and online portals to foster collaboration and help maintain a cohesive culture when workers have less in-person contact.
Gen Z employees have been leading the way in switching to companies that offer more meaningful work and tailored career development. To win the fight to attract and retain employees, organizations will need to re-engineer work tasks to make better use of people’s strengths.
Automation will be used in a more person-centered way: both to eliminate monotonous parts of the job and to allow workers to use their own initiative rather than following rigid processes and systems. And employee feedback data will be used to help track and improve engagement, job satisfaction and mental health.
Technology prediction #2: This year will be payback time for COVID-19 technical debt
For many IT teams, 2022 will be the right time to pay back technical debt caused by the pandemic – in other words, to rework the quick digital fixes they were forced to implement during the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
A survey we conducted last year revealed that around two thirds of UK IT leaders had made technology changes to improve digital interaction with customers, or to handle greater volumes of digital interaction in response to the pandemic. And more than half expected to make additional investments to ensure those changes keep working in the long term.
It’s no surprise when you consider how fast CIOs had to act when the pandemic struck. Few had the luxury of implementing the perfect solution and workarounds were often the only way to get through the crisis. In other cases, the original IT requirement went away or evolved, as new challenges were thrown up by the pandemic.
As the pressure hopefully starts to ease off in 2022 it will be important to take a fresh look at the business case for making any recently introduced services and systems a permanent part of the ‘new normal’. For example, are kerbside deliveries still required? Has there been a permanent move to conducting business online? What mix of online and in-person customer service is now needed? Once the business fundamentals are established, the race will be on to fix any shortcomings in functionality, security, scalability or performance. An orchestration approach can help to reduce timescales by adding new capabilities such as extra delivery channels or business processes on top of existing systems rather than completely replacing them.
Technology prediction #3: Information management and AI will be adopted for data privacy compliance
Complying with data privacy rules is about to become even more complex this year, as the UK government is determined to press ahead with at least some of its post-Brexit plans to diverge from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The proposed changes are aimed at making data protection regulations “more ambitious, pro-growth and innovation-friendly”. They include measures such as relaxing or simplifying the rules about what can be defined as a legitimate interest for processing personal data; doing away with the requirement for consumers to accept cookie consent pop-ups on websites; and allowing organizations to refuse the most costly Data Subject Access Requests (or start charging for them).
There are also plans for the UK to sign global data adequacy partnerships so that data can be exchanged more easily with important fast-growing markets including Australia, Colombia, Dubai, Singapore, South Korea and the US.
While UK data protection regulations may become somewhat less stringent in a bid to drive commercial activity and growth, in other parts of the world, including a number of US states (such as California), the rules are getting tougher.
For enterprises that operate in multiple markets, keeping up with the disparate regulations in different regions will be an ongoing battle in 2022 and we anticipate a drive for greater automation in this area. At Macro 4 we are helping customers to use AI and machine learning with their information management systems to simplify compliance. Together these technologies can automate the process of identifying personal data from the huge volumes of information flowing around organizations; ensuring it is appropriately classified; and handling it in accordance with the right rules for the right jurisdiction.
Adaptation is the new normal
The Brexit and COVID experience have reminded us that the future is hard to predict and the best laid plans can be derailed overnight. But at Macro 4 we believe that, despite the challenges, adapting to change can also reap unexpected benefits. We see our customers becoming more resilient, agile and flexible – and bouncing back even stronger. We feel honored to be a part of that journey.