If there is one thing 2020 has shown it’s that the late Romantic poet Robert Burns was right, when in the 1700s he wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our ability to predict the “what’s next” factor in our business environments and this year has seen businesses scramble from Plan A to Plan B, before working their way through the rest of the alphabet.

As executives shift their focus to 2021, they continue to face uncertainty about how the global pandemic and customer preferences will impact their business. There’s enormous pressure to digitise while simultaneously right-sizing their spend. 

Yet, Werner Engelbrecht, General Manager at Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa, remains cautiously optimistic about the industry and believes that, “As companies adapt to the challenges of work-from-home and mobile environments, printing trends are changing – from an increased investment in cloud services to a growing need for secure scanning and software solutions.”

“It’s true, we’ve spent a little more time planning for the short wins this year, and I must admit to having caught myself wondering whether, when things are so unpredictable, if there’s even a point to planning. But as an experienced CFO, my background in business planning and analytics means that I deeply believe that failure to plan is planning to fail,” says Engelbrecht. “The key is to anticípate a few scenarios and plan for them so that the execution can pivot and shift quickly along with the changing landscape.”

Plan for recovery and growth
Engelbrecht believes that we are unlikely to see any immediate relief on this part of the globe, due to continued uncertainty, but that while most businesses will continue to preserve their capital, they need to look to the future and plan their investments around recovery and growth. 

“Decision makers are focusing on projects that generate a return. In our industry, the IT roadmaps have changed so we need to focus on offering clients measurable value that assures them they are buying a product that will last over the long term,” says Engelbrecht.

Demand for superior customer service will grow
“Customers already expect their brands to be environmentally friendly, socially responsible, open and accommodating to their needs, but demands for superior customer service and the need for trust will amplify in 2021.” 

Disruptive change is the norm
As we adjust to the ‘new normal’, Gartner analysts predict that composable business will rely on architecting for resilience and accepting that disruptive change is the norm. 

“COVID-19 has allowed us to realise that change is inevitable. I expect a lot more over the next couple of years and believe that to thrive we need to be ready and receptive to even more change.”

Engelbrecht shared that the message from Kyocera HQ in Japan during 2019 and 2020 was “Change”, while the message for 2021 is “Change More”. And with more change comes more opportunity for next year: 

2020 saw a dramatic rise in digitisation/digital transformation in almost every sector of business as a result of COVID-19. This offers opportunities such as digital signing of documents. Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa went from 40% paper signing to 100% digital signing within a week after lockdown. Electronic signatures became a lifeline to many industries, enabling businesses to enter into and conclude transactions and agreements at a time when physical meetings were discouraged or illegal. The need for Advanced Electronic signatures will continue to grow in 2021. 
Kyocera entered a new space in production printing by adding the TASKalfa 15000c to the traditional business. In 2021, companies will continue to be conscious of the need to improve security by internalising print services, particularly in sectors such as banking, healthcare, utilities and public services.
2021 will see the introduction of new and exciting A4 and A3 devices … Watch this space!

Build a composable business
Don Scheibenreif, distinguished research Vice President at Gartner says, “The world today demands something different from us. Composing – flexible, fluid, continuous, even improvisational – is how we will move forward. That is why composable business is more important than ever.”

“I agree with Scheibenreif,” says Engelbrecht. “And firmly believe that the keys to recovery and growth in 2021, will be delivering value while flexing to change with composure.”