Over the past two years, many companies rediscovered the critical importance of organizational resilience. To maintain that agility in 2022, where should enterprise tech leaders invest their resources to prepare for challenges to come?
To answer that question, we invited five experts to identify the major trends leaders will need to focus on in the year ahead.
Consistent and transparent hybrid-work policies
In 2022, it will be critical for companies to get hybrid-work models right. The ones that do will be able to leverage it to recruit the best talent.
What I am increasingly seeing from firms is coordination on days in and out of the office—most commonly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the office, and Monday and Friday at home. This is simple, transparent, and makes it easy to organize fully in-person meetings. These days also make it easier for employees to take long weekends, and as long as they get their job done, that is fine with companies I talk to.
In fact, having WFH days on Monday and Friday has become a critical recruiting tool, given how tight labor markets are now. Another recruiting tool I also see rising in popularity is one month of “work from anywhere.” This typically doesn’t increase productivity, but employees value this so much that a growing number of firms I talk to offer it as a way to hire and retain top talent.
The basic thinking is either offering one month work-from-anywhere, or raising salaries by 5% to 10% to stay competitive. The first option seems like the better one.
— Nicholas Bloom, William Eberle Professor of Economics, Stanford University
The rise of chief ESG officers
A commitment to sustainability and social progress has become essential for CEOs, employees, and customers. ESG—the acronym for environment, social, and governance strategy—encapsulates the critical, intersectional work that organizations will be prioritizing in 2022. I expect to see an increase in the number of chief ESG officers joining boardrooms to guide these efforts.
An effective chief ESG officer will organize sustainability initiatives that allow companies to set measurable goals and communicate their progress. Critically, they will set a framework to evaluate short- and long-term financial risks associated with a company’s operations and policies. Companies looking for executive ESG leaders should expect a competitive search process. Candidates must be skilled not only in sustainability and social strategy and execution but also empathy and collaboration.
— Ellen Weinreb, founder and CEO, Weinreb Group
‘Centers of Excellence’ will expand to low-code development
Many organizations are finding that internal IT talent can’t meet the demands of digitalization today. Low-code tools have arrived at just the right moment to help close the gap. Businesses will need to establish Centers of Excellence (COE) to create standards and provide guidelines for low-code usage and governance within the organization.
We’re witnessing an explosion of low-code tools nowadays, for not only citizen developers but also IT professionals. The technology is coming from all sides, creating the potential for massive confusion. A COE will allow companies to build a framework and chain of ownership, so that tools can be matched to particular users and business functions, such as human resources or supply chain.
A low-code COE will become a critical resource for providing internal guidance and training to potential non-IT developers while also improving the productivity of IT teams.
— Thomas Davenport, professor of information technology and management, Babson College
Process mining will accelerate digital transformation
Since the early 2000s, companies have used robotic process automation (RPA) to automate business processes. It was easy to automate the low-hanging fruit, but more difficult to understand all the possible areas for improvement.
In 2022, process mining tools—which use AI like an X-ray to reveal redundancies in and roadblocks to business processes—will accelerate digital transformation by helping organizations analyze how systems are working and interacting in real time. Instead of trying to automate a company’s entire IT infrastructure at once, leaders will be able to prioritize where automation can best improve employee and customer experience.
The road to digital maturity offers innumerable paths to get you to where you want to be. Process mining will let businesses chart the smartest course to their destination.
— Dave Wright, chief innovation officer, ServiceNow
Building healthy workplaces will become a corporate priority
Employees’ well-being took center stage during the pandemic, as 96% of companies expanded their wellness benefits, offering mindfulness apps, virtual fitness programs, and more counseling and therapy services. Despite those efforts, many organizations found that employees were still falling sick, burning out, or quitting.
There were exceptions. Companies that looked beyond individual employee wellness to building healthy work models fared better in their financial, innovation, and people results. It’s a trend that other savvy enterprises will emulate in the coming year.
Leaders of healthy organizations will commit to physical and psychological safety and continuously and vigorously streamline work processes to help employees manage workloads, which stimulates innovation and unlocks creativity.
— Janet Mertens, director of research, The Josh Bersin Company