Chris Docherty, Regional Sales Manager – MENA, Lenovo
The business world inevitably reflects the society that surrounds it, as changes in societal norms and evolving cultural values naturally filter into office environments. After all, businesses are composed of people.
What’s less obvious is that the relationship works both ways –business has an important role in driving positive change in society. From the fair representation of genders, races, and religions to setting an example on environmental grounds, what becomes standard practice in the working environment can help shape the evolving status quo at a broader level.
Due to influences both at a grass-roots level and from a newer generation of societally-conscious leadership teams, the responsible business has emerged as an integral part of how enterprises operate. As business decision-makers reflect on how their organization will change and adapt post-COVID, addressing the topic of corporate responsibility has never been so timely.
To understand these issues more closely, Lenovo conducted research to gain greater insight into what IT decision-makers in EMEA and, through their perspective, network users expect from their employer with respect to digital transformation efforts, and the extent to which sentiments around the responsible business have manifested.
Change can often be a slow process. Yet, once the change has taken effect, it can seem inconceivable that things would ever return to the old ways. Take our current global circumstances, for example. The concept of work has always had an implicit association with a physical workspace. Over the past decade, correlating with advances in laptops, mobile devices, VPNs and virtual desktops, working from remote locations such as homes and cafés became more permissible, yet rarely the default.
Now, organizations that once ignored processes like remote and flexible working embrace them, understanding the necessity to place human needs above business goals during the COVID-19 outbreak. While many employees are itching to get back to their office routines, it’s likely that non-conventional ways of working will be viewed in a different light than before.
However, where and how employees work is only one element of broader transformation efforts, with some areas yet to adapt to changes in expectations. One area highlighted by the research was the shortcomings in the level of priority given to human factors in decision-making. The results showed 62% of IT managers report their investment decisions are entirely business-centric, and only 6% of IT managers across EMEA stated their IT decision-making is user-centric.
This disconnect suggests that technology decision-making typically isn’t broad enough in perspective to consider all of its impacts. After all, productivity gains come from humans capitalizing on technology capabilities, not from the technology itself.
Digging deeper, the research offered a range of insights on what the varied impacts of transformation are, and what the IT managers themselves view as important as participants in intelligent transformation.
One significant insight was around attitudes towards the vendor’s ethical and sustainability practices. Among the responses, 78% consider an ethical supply chain as important or very important when investing in new technologies. Alongside this, 74% cited the environmental impact of the vendors supply chain and 72% mentioned the sustainability impact of the technology’s manufacturing process as an important factor in investment decisions.
Other important factors cited by the respondents in their purchasing included the energy usage of the technology (75%), fair treatment of vendors in payment terms (79%) and accessibility of technology for less abled employees (78%).
These findings show that responsible business is a wide-reaching factor that doesn’t simply start and stop at the office doors but extends across the business’ internal IT operations and wider network. As these attitudes continue to evolve, enterprises need to work with vendors in a responsible way is likely to be pushed further up the corporate agenda.
Making responsibility a priority
From the research, it’s apparent that neglecting responsibility as a business priority misses a major opportunity to build a more cohesive and appealing workplace. The focus on people-centric objectives is a business opportunity, not a hindrance, and by aligning IT decisions with user expectations, the business can demonstrate its willingness to walk the talk.
Positive change, we know, will come over time. But as an industry, we can help accelerate it and reinforce its impacts. In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, now is the time for organizations to Think human in how they approach considerations around business and technology, placing people at the center of technology decisions and embracing the opportunities that smarter technology creates.
Suppose this is addressed, and businesses take a people-first approach to IT adoption. In that case, we will see a greater number of responsible businesses emerge, bringing positive change for both organizations and the wider society.