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Article | Unipartner joins big organizations to debate People, Sustainability and Digital

The future of organizations and the strategies they must adopt to overcome the challenges we are facing in this moment of great change and uncertainty, was the theme that set the tone for the event, which took place recently in Lisbon. The roles of people, sustainability and digital from the perspective of David Schonthal, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, in the United States, Andres Ortolá, General Manager of Microsoft Portugal, and Luís Neves, CEO of GeSI.

The morning was rich in sharing different experiences that have in common the transversal challenge of combining the urgency of accelerating digital innovation with the specificity of each business or sector of activity. Ensuring, thus, that the workforce remains aligned with objectives, and committed to change. Which is a challenge because, after all, “it's all about people”, said Fernando Reino da Costa, during the opening of the conference. Unipartner's President and CEO defended that the roles of people, sustainability and digital are the pillars of organizations of the future.

The three pillars assessed by Fernando Reino da Costa are, in fact, the support of the strategy defined by Unipartner. The consulting and information systems integration company, whose mission is to help transform its clients' businesses to be more efficient, productive and prepared to respond to the demands of a world in accelerated transformation, is also to walk the path of change and respond to the same internal challenges. “These are complex challenges, difficult to address, but they are all related”, he reinforced. From his perspective, people, sustainability and digital are essential parts of the mandatory change that organizations are currently subject to, with technology being the transversal enabler for all transformation and innovation. However, Fernando Reino da Costa pointed out, “there is no change without people”.

That was an opinion shared by David Schonthal, the American professor, co-author of the bestselling book 'The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas', which deals precisely with the difficulty that human beings have in changing. In his book, David, who was the special guest of this Unipartner meeting with large organizations, lists four frictions: inertia, effort, emotion and reactance. These are the main factors of resistance to change within organizations and in life, generally. Whether because they don't want to leave their comfort zone, because they put barriers to new ideas, for fear of failing or simply because they don't understand the impact of change, human beings tend to erect barriers to the acceptance of what is new or different. Managing to change these behaviors is a challenge for organizations, and a very demanding task for leaders. “The best leaders, those who can most easily create strategies to overcome these frictions, are those who are aware of their existence”, said David Schonthal.

Aside from his main keynote pitch, David Schonthal revealed that it was very positive to realize that in Portugal there is a set of organizations that care about and focus on these challenges and that are committed to overcoming them. However, he added: “I believe they lacked an approach to address them in a concrete way”. Basically, said the professor, “that is my objective with this work: to make it a structure that they can use within their own organization or that consultants can turn to to help their clients in the change processes”.

The digital with (the) Purpose

“The Information and Communication Technologies industry will be key to answering sustainability issues”. This is a certainty shared by Luís Neves, CEO of GeSI (Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative), who defended the urgency to accelerate the mobilization of organizations to change their processes and respond to the challenges of sustainability. “Otherwise, 30 years from now we won't have a planet”, he warned at the beginning of his pitch.

From the perspective of the person responsible for the 'Digital with Purpose' movement, launched by GeSI, digital will be part of the solution to combat climate change and reduce CO2 emissions. “Seven years after the Paris Agreement (2015), little has changed and I do not believe that the target will be reached in 2050”, he said, recalling that 5 million people die every year from causes related to climate change. “We need to manage the agendas for digital, human needs and sustainability with a quick and positive impact”.

Digital is in all businesses, as Luís Neves pointed out, so it is necessary for them to think outside the box. The Digital with Purpose movement starts from the premise that digital and sustainability are at the heart of the entire process. Therefore, he recommends, “it is important to mobilize companies for this objective, because they live in business as usual, and have not adapted to the challenges we are faced with. Digital with Purpose seeks to help companies adapt”.

Closing a morning full of exchanges of experiences, it was up to Andres Ortolá, General Manager of Microsoft Portugal, to end the pitch segment of the meeting. “The digital imperative is in all organizations”, he pointed at the beginning of his pitch, to highlight the importance of using technology to take the best possible advantage of the opportunities generated by the complex and disruptive environment that the world faces. “We are living in moments of uncertainty with a pandemic, which was followed by an energy crisis, a war, and a galloping inflation that antecipates a global recession”, he recalled. Therefore, he reinforced, “digital perseverance is fundamental”.

Among the digital imperatives that no organization should ignore, Andres Ortolá highlights five. The first, the migration to the Cloud, the digital cloud where, according to consultants' forecasts, 95% of businesses will be in 2025, essential to keep activities running. The second is to encourage fusion teams, capable of developing low-code or no-code technology, to open up the technological world to everyone – a Microsoft study estimates that, within three years, 70% of apps will be based on such technologies. The third imperative – collaborative business processes – ensures the flexibility of work models and gives strength to remote approaches, which are the preference of 73% of people in the post-pandemic period. Despite this, the head of Microsoft Portugal also revealed, 67% want more face-to-face work. A dichotomy that imposes new challenges on managers, who must create individualized people management strategies.

In the world of data, the fourth imperative pointed out by Andres Ortolá reflects the tendency to unify the terabytes of data that are created daily, applying artificial intelligence models capable of extracting truly useful information for better decision making. By 2025, reveals the General Manager, 10% of data will be produced by generative AI systems. Finally, the security imperative, whose breaches will cost the world 10.5 trillion dollars. “Avoiding these losses is fundamental”, he pointed out.

Closing the event, the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Administrative Modernization, Mário Campolargo, left the leaders in the audience with a message that reflects the urgency of making a collective effort to have a more digital country. “It's not necessarily just a top-down effort, it's an effort that has to encompass all the actors. We have to keep in mind the interaction between the most innovative organizations, the most recent, those that are more established, because it moves society”, he said. Taking advantage of the support provided by the PRR (Recovery and Resilience Plan) is, according to the Secretary of State, one of the recipes for digitally developing the country. “It is important that digitalization and administrative modernization are two sides of the same country's development coin with the aim of turning it into a balanced digital nation”, he reinforced.


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