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VIEWPOINT: A Digital World: What’s in Store for Central New York

By Michael Brunner


As the effects of the coronavirus continue to reshape our world, the next year will see several factors accelerating the shift to a more digital, hybrid future. We expect to see a continued focus on digital transformation as the driving force creating value for business owners. Below are some considerations of what will come next — and how organizations can position themselves for success.

New digital advances are key to growth 

With manufacturing, health care, and education driving our labor force across Central New York, it will be critical for companies to further digitize their offerings and operations using new and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics. As Syracuse emerges as a leader in smart technology solutions, we see industries of all sizes across Central New York using these advances to increase automation and streamline tasks. 

In addition, digitalization will become a greater priority in unexpected areas of the business, such as mergers & acquisitions (M&A) and succession planning. 

• Q&A. Digital transformation can help to accelerate M&A deals and make companies more attractive acquisition targets. Those engaged in the M&A process are finding digital technologies helpful in reducing transaction time and costs and delivering greater value to buyers and sellers. 

• Succession planning. Digital transformation should also be considered as business leaders think about the company’s long-term trajectory. This includes having talent with the skills to be agile in a quickly changing digital environment. A comprehensive succession plan should also include a roadmap for current and future leaders to assess where they stand on digital readiness and evaluate opportunities for sustainable growth. 

Embrace emerging trends in talent and leadership 

Digital capabilities can also help companies become more effective at recruitment and retention. While many businesses across Central New York hope to continue returning workforces to the office, many are offering remote or hybrid work options — which rely heavily on digital solutions. As more companies try to balance a mix of in-person and remote work, they will soon find that these digitally driven workforces present new opportunities to unlock productivity and collaboration. 

According to the New York State Department of Labor, Central New York saw a 3.4 percent rise in private-sector job growth by the end of 2021. While the labor force steadily grows, it will be imperative for businesses to focus on implementing new benefits to attract and retain employees. By removing geographical constraints on hiring, companies in Central New York have more flexibility to hire from a wider and more diverse talent pool of candidates — something that can help companies stay competitive in a challenging labor market. Additionally, offering comprehensive financial benefits plans and wellness resources, employee education, or affinity groups — often part of a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion — will be more important than ever. 

Focus on ESG efforts to realize sustainable growth 

Throughout this year, companies should focus on implementing a meaningful environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) framework for every stage of the business life cycle, considering both their goods and services, as well as activities across key business functions — from finance to sales to customer acquisition and more. For example, here in Syracuse and Utica, Bank of America executes our ESG efforts by working with local nonprofit partners to identify current needs and opportunities to help strengthen our communities.

This year, it won’t be enough for a company to develop and sell a good product. How the business develops, markets, and delivers the product will need to be increasingly digital, and take ESG factors into greater consideration. Companies that recognize the possibilities of digital transformation, while keeping the values of their employees and customers in mind, will be better positioned to address the business challenges in the year ahead — and beyond — while creating greater value for the stakeholders and communities they serve.        

Michael Brunner is president of Bank of America, Central New York region.

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