In the recent years business agility has been a hot topic. Some businesses with “early adopter” characteristics have been able to successfully gear their organisations for agility, whilst many have been slower out of the starting blocks. It is not that the plans to build business agility was not in place, but rather that there was no urgency or immediate need to execute on those plans. Covid-19 has changed this drastically and has tested how agile we really are.

Covid-19 Impact In The Investment Industry

With many countries having been locked down, businesses had a need to continue functioning within the restrictions. During this time, it was amazing to see companies, both small and large, scramble to enable their workforces. Whilst some were trying to arrange laptops and mobile data for their people, others were trying to get the IT infrastructure rapidly geared to make remote working possible. All of a sudden, the choice of infrastructure and systems that a company had in place became significant. This scenario was out of the ordinary and not covered in the mandatory disaster recovery plans which most businesses are required to have in place. 

Let’s bring this back home to the investment industry, where many teams rely heavily on financial data platforms and systems in their daily activities. A key aspect of effectively working remotely meant having direct access to these resources. Remote connections to the office solved this access challenge in some cases. However, many companies still had users that shared systems which meant the queue for accessibility moved from the physical office to online, with its own set of technical challenges. Suddenly the premium solutions that companies had invested in, and depended on was stuck at the office underutilised giving many Operations Managers a fair bit to think about.

Cloud Solutions Help A Lot In Continuity And Efficiency

With all the talk of cloud technologies, one would have thought that most data systems would have moved in that direction already but that was not the case for all companies. I guess a mix of complacency in the big firms, legacy infrastructures and no world-crisis driving urgency, would have all contributed to the sluggish progress to cloud. During this “new normal” we have learned that true business agility is possible if we invest smartly in flexible solutions that enables us to function anytime, anywhere and on any device.

I remember speaking about this very point at the JSE Trade connect last year. At EquityRT, we pulled the trigger and made this choice years ago and looking at the current state of the world we are glad we did it then. Moving away from our remarkably successful desktop platform to a fully web-platform was a massive decision for us. We had a lot to learn, a lot to change and most of all a lot to risk. But those decisions could not have been better as there was a sense of calmness during the chaos of 2020 knowing we had built the agility necessary for times like this.

Benefits For Early Adopters

Looking at history, there is a trend for these “world crisis” events to pop up suddenly and shake things up just as we become “comfortable”. Maybe this is just the universes’ way of pushing evolution along. We should absorb these experiences and learn from it. We should adapt our thinking and mindsets and align with forward thinkers, so we are in a position to advance. Any maybe embracing an “Early Adopter” type mentality may prove to be the key ingredient in giving us the agility to tackle the next crisis the universe has to throw us.

Vijen Surjooram, Managing Director | EquityRT South Africa