A year after the first UK COVID lockdown, Rob Ferris, CEO of Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd reflects on his experiences, what has been learnt, and how it has helped to evolve the business.
Undoubtedly the last 12 months have been an extremely tough and challenging time for everyone. However, I believe that it has also been a unifying time, reminding us of the importance of staying connected. Fortunately, we live in an age that provides a plethora of communications tools that enable many of us to build, maintain and grow our personal and professional relationships when it isn’t possible to meet in person.
I have experienced first-hand just how beneficial establishing and maintaining good connections is, especially when social distancing rules make it more complicated. I took the reins at Konica Minolta in May last year, during the first lockdown, and even today there are still many key members of our team I have yet to meet face-to-face in the offline world!
Video and online communications have however proven to be a fantastic alternative and I have been able to forge real and strong connections and relationships with our team, partners, and customers, without being physically in the same room. Video calls provide considerable benefits - you get to speak to people in their own space making it more personal and, by avoiding physical travel, we have all enjoyed the benefits of fast, reliable and easy ways to engage with each other.
I was fortunate that Konica Minolta had already fully embraced digital transformation – using the latest technologies to meet changing business, cultural and market requirements. For other businesses forced to facilitate remote working, it has also been a valuable lesson that there are better ways to work that also boost productivity and flexibility as well as improving the work/life balance for employees.
With the right systems in place to talk, collaborate and share files easily, I have no doubt the productivity and flexibility of our business has greatly increased. Konica Minolta was already fully committed to flexibility, but the pandemic has demonstrated how effective use of technology can be in practice. We have truly reached the next level and it has transformed the way our business will operate and continue to evolve.
Well placed to adapt and assist
Globally Konica Minolta is committed to rethinking the workplace, by connecting people, spaces, and technology to transform businesses. This approach has enabled us to not only embrace and overcome social distancing requirements ourselves, but also to support and assist our partners and customers in doing so as well.
For instance, our teams have been safely and remotely supporting NHS, Education and Public Sector customers with workflow solutions, security/safety systems and managed print solutions throughout the pandemic. We accelerated a remote by default approach to not just customer support but also installations, which is not only safer for all involved but is also quicker and more sustainable. We offer a virtual showroom to ensure customers can still engage with our solutions and have also run live remote demonstrations, with customers and solutions experts attending from across Europe.
We have also ensured that we preserve and grow our relationships with partners through regular video calls and a new webinar programme, as well as offering new online and virtual training options. We have provided them with our AIRe Link Remote Support solutions so they’re able to support and resolve queries from their customers rapidly and safely.
Long term evolution
It is important to look at how the changes during the last 12 months factor into the broader changes taking place in the workplace.
Over the last decade or so the world of work has largely moved on from the traditional nine-to-five physical location of old to become far more mobile. Environmental concerns, financial fluctuations (such as volatile stock markets), and ever-evolving social changes have all taken their toll in changing this approach. The pandemic has definitely seen a global step-change that has accelerated the wider evolution of how businesses operate and the expectations employees have.
To address this, Konica Minolta has fully embraced the concept of an Intelligent Connected Workplace. A dynamically and digitally transformed work model which understands that technology needs to be human-centred to deliver significant competitive advantages – increased customer experience, enhanced process efficiencies, improved business decision making, better agility and innovation.
We evangelise this approach from direct experience – it has transformed the way our global group of companies work and operate. It has been a crucial component in our business rapidly adapting to deal with the pandemic restrictions. Our experience also means we can be a partner for our customers looking to take full advantage of an Intelligent Connected Workplace.
Changes for the better
The deployment of technology to enable widespread home working will undoubtedly see a long-term shift in workplace management – clearly remote and hybrid working are here to stay. In fact, with the inevitable changes to the world economy, it will be essential in helping teams stay flexible, to scale up project by project, using data to optimise decision-making and navigate the complex risks and opportunities ahead.
Konica Minolta is proud to be leading these changes by example, not only by supporting our own employees and partners, but also by helping our customers to examine their own network infrastructure and cyber-security to achieve their ideal solution. Despite the challenges, Konica Minolta remains closely connected - as individuals and as a business we know we are intrinsically linked to those around us and we only succeed when all our people, customers, and communities do too.