The Value of the Human in Enterprises in Times of Crisis

Rob Scott

ALE discusses the place of the human in today’s challenging business situation

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Strategy
The Value of the Human in Enterprises in Times of Crisis

The sudden and life-changing arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed us all into a new reality. The term “unprecedented” has almost lost its meaning in this ever-changing landscape, with companies and consumers both constantly struggling to adapt to new situations. Overnight, many employees were asked to stop coming to the office or apply unusual social distancing measures.

At the same time, we’ve been forced to adapt and change the way that we interact with colleagues, business partners, friends and family members too. Isabelle Huitric, the Program Marketing Director for Communications and Cloud at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, talked with me about her opinions on the current landscape. She shared what she believes our situation now means to the workplaces and business operations of tomorrow.

Adapting at Incredible Pace

Isabelle noted that in virtually no time at all, companies with employees that could work from home opened the doors to remote working. “Organisations have done everything possible, at incredible speed, to ensure that people could remain connected, efficient, and available from a distance”.

“Businesses have quickly discovered new ways of serving customers and clients remotely to try and preserve the human link that is so important in our professional and personal lives”

Unfortunately, as Isabelle noted, the situation hasn’t just been business as usual. Since the lockdown, we’ve all been forced to adapt at incredible pace, and many of us have never been more efficient. At first, the focus for many businesses was finding a way to quickly preserve operations. After that, companies began to recognise the need for putting the human back at the centre of the story.

“Almost instantly, social distancing and isolation has prompted altruistic behaviors from businesses and consumers alike. We’ve all jumped into this mindset of being in this together. To move forward, we’ll need to keep our focus on preserving human relationships.”

Isabelle believes that collaboration and communication tools in the cloud have revealed their true value during this difficult time, not just as a tool for preserving business operations, but as a way to aid human and business resilience.

How Are Companies Responding to This New Landscape?

With collaboration and communication tools to help them, companies have joined minds remotely to deliver on objectives and accomplish goals like never before. As Isabelle noted, we’re all working together to ensure that this landscape works, because we all have a common enemy to overcome. Isabelle listed various examples of how they are operating at ALE in this new environment, thanks to Alcatel-Lucent RainbowTM, the ALE cloud-based communications and collaboration services:

  • Jumping on video conferences to solve problems and give remote teams more authority for making decisions
  • Replacing face-to-face interactions with video meetings and keep business relationships from stagnating
  • Getting together in project groups, with people from different departments all contributing to the same goal
  • Working through “discussion bubbles” with the management team, for help handling the challenges of isolation
  • Implementing remote online support teams to help people less familiar with remote working to stay productive

All the while, top management and leaders are engaged and keeping their fingers on the pulse of the company.

“Employees from all functions and backgrounds are learning how to operate more smoothly in a remote landscape, using the tools that are available on the cloud”

Will Attitudes to Remote Working Continue to Change?

Isabelle told me that the last couple of months are evidence of the durability and resiliency of the human spirit, and the ability of employees to remain efficient. A lot of enterprises have begun to realise that remote working can be just as efficient as asking people to come into the office.

“The companies that have subscribed to Rainbow are telling us that they are discovering new roles that we didn’t realise could be done remotely. In the “restore business” period we have entered, these companies are finding ways to cut costs by keeping team members remote and lowering office overheads. They are in the midst of a significant change in the mindset towards remote working.”

Going forward, Isabelle believes that the way companies embrace remote working will depend on their situation, and the individuals in question. She acknowledged that not everyone has had the same positive experience with working remotely, and some people will struggle with this way of work. There needs to be some time for planning how we can continue to offer remote working in the future, but Isabelle believes that we will see more and more people working at home in the months to come.

Is the Demand for Cloud Communications Increasing?

I asked Isabelle how significant the acceleration of cloud communications had become from ALE’s perspective. She told me that these last months, the number of subscriptions to Rainbow has grown at an incredible rate. “I think the numbers are just going to increase as decision makers continue to see first-hand how successful the right cloud technology can be.”

Business leaders are discovering that thanks to the right highly secured cloud collaboration and communication services, they can work better and faster than they ever dreamed possible, all without having a physical office.

“More than any other event in history, this crisis has revealed the importance of communication and collaboration between people in a company to maintain business continuity. Now that we’re evolving beyond our immediate response to this dramatic situation, it’s important that all organisations continue to use the lessons they’ve learned as a source of enduring competitive advantage.”

Looking into the Future

Isabelle noted that no-one knows exactly what the future might hold at this stage. We have no idea how long it will take businesses to restore but one thing is sure is that in any usual situation or crisis, COMMUNICATIONS are key. And today, these will remain critical to overcome the adverse effects of the past months of confinement and to continue to thrive in a different environment from the one we’ve known before.


Rainbow Video Conferencing

“Companies are likely to focus most now on the tools and technology that will help them to recover.”

“This could include increasing investment in cloud solutions, adding AI to support teams, and automating certain paths. It all depends on what will help these companies to serve their customers best”

The important lesson to take away from this experience, according to Isabelle, is that the human-to human connection will always be a critical component of any business. Above anything else, ensuring that people can continue to communicate and collaborate in times of crisis can ensure business continuity. If we can maintain communication, then we can learn how to adapt to almost any situation.


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