The Call For Leaders interview series reached its third phase, with the established 3Q format having received a revamp for 2021. The original Call For Leaders 3Q and its sequel, Call For Leaders – Back in Business, have seen us talking to quite a diverse roster of business leaders in Romania, representing top companies and various industries. In this latest installment, BR talked to Cătălina Dodu, Country Manager Romania and Global CyberSecurity Services PreSales Director at Atos IT Solutions and Services A/S.

 

  1. After a difficult 2020 year, how do you think business optimism will be influenced in 2021?

“We are living interesting times” – this is a phrase that I have often heard during the last year. The experience during this time has been one of an unprecedented need to rapidly adapt to new ways of living, working, and communicating. Those challenges have exposed both strengths and weaknesses in individuals, societies, and businesses, and they have revealed just how dependent our world is on digital technology. But it is difficult to imagine how much more devastating the pandemic might have been without test-and-trace apps, homeworking and schooling, online shopping and banking, and video calls.

However, for all the positives of digital technologies, we have also observed flaws in some enterprises’ digital strategies as they succumb to the damaging effects of cybersecurity breaches, system failure and the inability to flex and scale services to meet rapidly changing demands. Reactive measures can shape the new norms – with positive or negative outcomes depending on how they are taken forward.

 

  1. How will your company be involved in the development of your industry, and also in the recovery of other sectors which were affected by the pandemic?

As we anticipate the emergence from this game-changing crisis, we have a clear responsibility to rebound stronger, more resilient, and more sustainable than before. It is my strong conviction that we can find a more positive way forward. Many businesses have experienced a wake-up call in terms of their digital maturity. Some significant industry sectors are failing or have failed (e.g. certain airlines and high-street retail chains) – there may be no viable route to recovery. This may lead to some hard decisions about allowing some sectors to disappear entirely.

With digital technologies underpinning many aspects of business continuity during the pandemic, we must acknowledge that technology mastery is a critical topic for a company that cannot be restricted to a limited set of experts. We need to ensure that we can realize the maximum potential from our application of technology, recognizing that technology needs to work for us, not the other way around. This requires a comprehensive and seamless approach to security. However, robust approaches to cybersecurity and principles of “ethics by design” are fundamental to ensuring that technology solutions are themselves sustainable from a trust perspective.

 

  1. How will you approach innovation and new investments in 2021?

New ways of working have been enforced, revealing the fact that what was previously viewed as impossible is a perfectly viable alternative. Business leaders and their employees may not want to go back to the way things were. There will be significant implications in terms of how employees are managed, motivated, and rewarded; in their use of communication and collaboration tools; and also, in terms of real estate. The importance of skills flexibility, adaptability and learning has been highlighted, particularly around digital skills. Some businesses may suffer from the loss of key resources as individual employees take the opportunity of the COVID-19 reset to make a career change or take early retirement.

There is of course no universal panacea for ensuring that businesses will successfully rebound from the pandemic, but we believe that there are some imperatives that must be addressed in the context of each business entity. These are derived from the distinguishing marks of those enterprises that have thrived over the last few months, and the required responses to the socio-economic conditions that we are now facing. They reflect the best of what we have learned to adapt to, without forgetting what we have lost and need to regain.

Technology mastery is not a one-time fix – new digital potential will continue to emerge and today’s impossibilities become tomorrow’s market disruptors. We have proved that it is possible to work differently, adopt and adapt technologies in ways that were previously thought to be too difficult, and collaborate for the greater good. It is critically important that we do not just try to restore previously held views of normality, but instead take the opportunity to rethink what we strive for in pursuit of value and purpose. This will include rebalancing our perspectives on how and why we use technology – ensuring that we embrace technology mastery rather than techno-solutionism. Many businesses will have to deal with the technical debt of legacy solutions that are holding them back from realizing the full potential of digital.

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