A Year of Upheaval: What Kenyan Businesses Can Learn from the Disruption of 2021 (By James Bayhack)

By James Bayhack, Director Sub-Saharan Africa at CM.com

From lockdowns, third waves and vaccine deployments to digital innovations, e-commerce booms and riot-related supply chain struggles, 2021 has been eventful to say the least. For many Kenyan businesses, 2020 set the tone for what to expect this year, especially in terms of digital transformation and managing operations under lockdown restrictions. However, the last few months have undoubtedly thrown a few curve balls in our path. It’s fair to say that today, senior executives in nearly every industry are prioritizing ways to scale and sustain their businesses for what is sure to be an interesting year ahead. At least they should be.

Bearing in mind the words of American comedian Evan Escar – he claimed that if hindsight is good, foresight is better – what can we learn from our experiences during the last year of upheaval to better prepare the one to come? Every failure, development or achievement presents a multitude of opportunities for better understanding and better understanding. And 2021 has been packed with all three.

Digital transformation

It has become a “fit or die” situation this year. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, more businesses have been forced to go online. A 2020 report from Deloitte (https://bit.ly/3H92fLo) found that while two-thirds of companies had a digital transformation strategy in place, 46% of senior executives did not feel confident to lead a organization in the digital economy. Often times, this comes down to not fully understanding a company’s technological needs or even what it means to be truly digital.

This year, we saw how companies that had already embraced digital transformation were better equipped to handle the ‘new normal’, transitioning teams and adapting faster to digital demands. Struggling businesses were those that didn’t have a plan in place, didn’t adopt the right technology to support their business, and naturally had a limited budget for the transformation required.

Kenya‘s Vision 2030 identified TIC as a catalyst for a knowledge-based economy that could propel the country towards a middle-income economy by 2030. As we prepare for 2022, it is critical that companies align digital transformation with the goals of business and understand the basic needs to ensure agility in the future. This covers everything from developing correct procedures and training staff to investing in the technology and tools that support a decentralized working model. The digital age is upon us. Fortunately, innovations are taking place every day to make the transition to a digital environment a little less painful. Since most of the fastest growing online populations (https://bit.ly/3bX7iAa) in the world are in Africa, organizations that can keep abreast of technological capabilities will secure their place in a digital future.

The hybrid workspace

One of the biggest changes to come in 2021 has been the rise of the hybrid workplace. After months of total closure in 2020, when teams grappled with the dangers of remote working, this year a small number of people returned to the office a few days or hours a week. But a global survey from Statista suggests 73% of employees (https://bit.ly/2YzGLpu) want flexible remote working options to stayCOVID. And countries like Kenya could use this to their advantage, growing the economy and boosting tourism by attracting remote workers (https://bit.ly/3D4cSMT).

The hybrid workplace – and even the elusive “third” workspace, which constitutes anywhere with a socket and an Internet connection – seems here to stay. This means that the pressure is on companies that initially struggled to adapt to remote operations – those that struggled with things like handling customer queries remotely, motivating decentralized teams and being in control. customer service. With many Kenyan entrepreneurs developing solutions to help solve the challenges of remote working and prepare for the future of work (https://bit.ly/3kjVP25), the new world of work looks bright for this country.

In 2021, we learned how to run businesses from home, and while productivity seemed to stay on track, the process was not without challenges. Now, companies need to master both office efficiency and remote work. In my opinion, that means communication has never been more important. And we should expect concepts like cybersecurity and digital well-being to become a major focus in the coming months, as more people spend more time online – zoom fatigue is a big one. very real thing.

Communication and innovation

Thinking back to 2021, I would say that effective communication – internally and with customers – is what sets companies apart. For many, digital platforms and collaboration tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Gumzo (https://bit.ly/3bWlwkM), the first African-made video conferencing platform, have replaced the physical desktop. But direct communication cannot be overlooked, as can the importance of improving the skills of team members with improved communication skills. Now it’s critical to ensure that everything from onboarding to year-end reviews is done in a way that every employee feels heard and valued. Good communicators will always be an asset to any organization, whether or not you share an office space.

In terms of external communication, the customer experience has become the focal point this year. We’ve learned to talk to customers on their favorite channels (https://bit.ly/30ddotN), whether it’s on WhatsApp (https://bit.ly/3o9T6Jz), social media platforms, or via SMS (https://bit.ly/3CUIS65) notifications. According to the World Bank (https://bit.ly/3bUQvOc), 72.9% of Kenyans use a mobile money account and 26.1% shop and pay their bills online. It has therefore become crucial to create responsive and easy-to-navigate websites and to ensure that everything from marketing campaigns to payment methods is optimized for mobile users. In the coming year, customer experience and convenience will be key factors in business decisions.

Heading into 2022, now is the perfect time to learn important lessons from the past few months and forge partnerships to ensure your business is as prepared as possible for the future. If you want us to help your business improve the customer experience, provide ongoing support, and discover the power of conversational commerce, visit CM.com.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of CM.com.

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