Why every company needs to be a tech company
A new study reveals that Kiwi businesses have remained resilient in the face of ongoing uncertainty. Andrew Fairgray looks at the 2degrees study to see how businesses have been adapting. It’s been said many times, but it’s worth repeating: these last 18 months have been unlike any we’ve seen. Businesses have faced unprecedented challenges, some have been forced to […]
A new study reveals that Kiwi businesses have remained resilient in the face of ongoing uncertainty. Andrew Fairgray looks at the 2degrees study to see how businesses have been adapting.
It’s been said many times, but it’s worth repeating: these last 18 months have been unlike any we’ve seen. Businesses have faced unprecedented challenges, some have been forced to close their doors and change the way they operate overnight, a few times over.
In the face of those challenges, New Zealand businesses have done a remarkable job of adapting to the new reality and making the best of a difficult set of circumstances. Our latest 2degrees Shaping Business Study, conducted by an external provider and carried out as businesses faced another round of uncertainty this September, provides a picture of where Kiwi businesses were at, and how they are adapting.
How we’re doing
In the lead up to the August 2021 nationwide lockdown, the study showed that businesses were feeling pretty good, on the whole. 30 percent of businesses felt more optimistic than they had the previous year, and over half felt the same about their business as they did in 2020.
As expected, those levels of optimism dropped a bit after the country went back to Alert Level 4. However, the results remained pretty positive. Even though nearly a quarter of businesses were unable to operate through Level 4, 26 percent still felt optimistic about their outlook, while 14 percent said they felt more pessimistic than before.
Digital skills are the key
As a nation, we adapted quickly to the new reality. 68 percent of businesses felt well prepared when lockdown hit again, and only 13 percent were caught completely off guard.
What the numbers show us, and what we see every day talking to businesses, is that digital skills and technology are some of the key ways business leaders are able to adapt and remain resilient, in an ever-changing environment. Every business has to be a tech company in its own way in 2021.
Whether it’s new collaboration tools or adjusting the way they interact with their customers online, technology has played a role in many businesses’ ability to continue through the ongoing disruption of the past two years.
For businesses that felt they were getting back on track following the disruptions since March 2020, 35 percent said that flexibility to work from home was important, over a quarter identified improved digital skills and access, and one in five said it was better technology.
How to weather the next storm
So, it’s important for business leaders to consider what role digital technology and skills will play in their business’ future. The Shaping Business Study told us that of leaders planning to increase investment in their business over the next year, 35 percent were planning to invest in digital upskilling, which is very promising.
However, 37 percent of business leaders who felt they didn’t have the digital skills they needed, said they lack motivation for building those skills, which is a worrying number.
We often talk about digital equality for people who can’t afford or who don’t have access to telecommunications, but there is also I believe, digital inequality across businesses who don’t have the skillset to support growing their business, the time, or the knowledge of where they can find educational material.
2degrees has been working with Manaaki for more than a year, and one of the initiatives they have launched is called the Digital Doers Academy, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, and it is about educating job seekers on how to leverage digital tools that are available, and then enables them to get into the workforce. 2degrees provides connectivity to those in the programme who may need it. We were really pleased with the uptake of these Digital Doers into businesses, but it also identified that there needs to be more avenues for getting that digital skillset into the job market.
Without having these digital tools and skills, it can be difficult for businesses to stand up websites, put in ecommerce platforms and continue to engage with customer bases. We are transitioning into a digital economy and businesses should be investing in technology, and we all need to support businesses to have these digital skills. We provide the technology that enables businesses to leverage digital assets.
New Zealanders and Kiwi business have weathered the storm of the past two years well. That’s testament to our incredible businesses, adjusting to the new reality and being ready to change the way they operate at the drop of a hat.
It’s as clear as it ever has been that digital skills and technology can help businesses build resilience and adaptability. If you want to prepare your business to weather the next storm that may be coming, it will be important to ensure that your technology, digital platforms, and abilities are up to scratch.
Andrew Fairgray (pictured) is 2degrees’ Chief Business Officer.