Salesforce Senior Vice President and General Manager ASEAN Sujith Abraham says the pandemic has demonstrated how technology and sustainability go hand-in-hand, and discusses how tech can help leaders move quickly to rebuild more inclusive economies.
By Sujith Abraham
The world is facing a crisis of trust. It’s not just in the technology industry – it’s in all industries. People have lost trust in the media, the government, and the companies they do business with. People no longer trust that companies will secure their data and privacy, or that companies will do the right thing to make this a better world.
Trust has become the new-currency to value your relationships upon and how to measure your brand. According to Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer, trust in government, NGOs and media organisations has declined globally over the past twelve months, while trust in business remains highest.
Locally, trust in Singapore business dropped by 2% compared to the previous year. And while the trust gap between Singaporeans and Singapore business outlines risks in helping businesses recover, this also poses an opportunity for local businesses to use this time to reset their corporate priorities such as embracing the digital imperative to shape new and unique customer experiences and build trust as we navigate to the new norm.
The need for trust could not come at a more crucial time as the world delivers one of the largest mass vaccination campaigns in human history. Trust in institutions, information and science, as well as partnerships between public and private sectors, are more essential than ever as we overcome different distribution issues.
Reliable Information, and Reskilling Revolution
As institutions around the world focus on vaccines distribution, it is critical to empower both public health leaders and communities with information and data so they can move quickly and effectively. In order for technology to play a role in vaccine distribution, it must be built responsibly.
Technology can help bring consistent, reliable and truthful information about authorised COVID-19 vaccines, including about their safety and efficacy. As we move into the last mile of vaccine distribution, digital health credentialing will be more important than ever as businesses, event venues, airlines and countless other organisations think through their reopening and recovery strategies in the new normal.
We have seen organisations around the world apply technology at hyperspeed to address challenges that the pandemic created – innovating not only to serve and stay connected with customers but also to ensure their safety. In the new economy, the willingness of businesses to adapt – and the ability to implement digital systems – will be a key determinant of success, even long-term survival.
The pandemic has also changed how we work. Some jobs will go away, new ones will emerge. Like employers, employees also need to digitise. The business has a role to play in helping people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to acquire new, relevant digital skills.
To build more inclusive and robust economies, digital training and reskilling must be central, especially in supporting disproportionately-affected groups. The technology industry has a unique part to play throughout this pandemic in keeping people connected, in helping organisations adapt to change and embrace digital transformation, and in innovating for the good of society.
A recent Salesforce study found that 69% of people believe the pandemic will permanently change their work and 57% say they wish they had a better or more up-to-date skillset. This is why Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, has a mission of democratizing education and providing an equal pathway into the tech industry is more important now than ever. Trailhead creates an avenue for people to gain free access to the technologies and skills necessary to land a job in our changing workforce, regardless of where they live and what their background may be.
During the pandemic, there has been a significant surge in usage on Trailhead since COVID-19, with a 37% increase in sign-ups, and more than 50% increase in learner engagement, showcasing that users are sensing the urgency to re-skill and prepare for jobs of the future.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that businesses must have a digital-first mindset and organisations must take action now to adapt and integrate digitisation throughout their operations will future-proof their business and build resilience. In order for employees to remain successful in their jobs, employees must be empowered with the right technology and tools. The future of digital inclusion is one where businesses and governments come together to offer a holistic solution.
Transparency and Sustainability
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of transparency in building trust, and that technology and sustainability go hand in hand. Just as communities have taken the task of responding to COVID-19 into their own hands, for instance, to track infection rates, similarly, strong leadership will be needed to navigate climate change. This explains why more and more companies are embracing new digital ways of tracking, analysing and reporting environmental data through cloud platforms.
Salesforce works with lawmakers and regulators around the globe to support policies that positively impact our employees, customers, communities, business and planet. This advocacy work is rooted deeply within our core corporate values of Trust, Innovation, Customer Success, and Equality. We advocate for cutting edge public policy changes to drive climate action by officially including climate as a part of the company public policy platform, joining priorities like equal rights, privacy and security, and others.
How companies behave today will shape the way they – and business in general – will be perceived long after the pandemic. The crises we face provide institutions around the world a chance to reassess their values and think about how to become more responsible and sustainable. Every business has an urgent responsibility to act and do more than simply maximise shareholder value. Together, they can rebuild public trust and make the world a better place for all.
(Ed. Featured image courtesy of Photographer Susn Dybvik.)