Events of the past few months have forced organizations to make technology changes and investments that they weren’t expecting or that were planned for further in the future. In short order, new priorities supplanted existing plans, with long-term transformation projects paused in favor of immediate actions to adjust to new operating environments and ensure business continuity.
The reality for your workforce, customers and partners has already undergone lasting change. There is likely more change to come. How you respond now will define your recovery from the crisis. But the question isn’t “What will our organization look like after the recovery?” but rather “What do we want it to look like?”
With the right approach and the right guidance, what you do now will not only help you recover but also compete and thrive post-recovery.
It’s important that business and IT leaders keep this in mind and continue to build momentum as they work through the phases of response and recovery:
- Enabling remote work capabilities
- Ensuring security and performance for core IT services
- Reducing costs and increasing ROI on existing assets
- Translating change into competitive advantage
Below, we explore the ways technology leaders can leverage this moment of change to drive innovation and establish a model for revenue growth once on the path to recovery.
Adapting to Change and Stabilizing a New Environment
When the implications of COVID-19 became apparent, organizations were singularly focused on adapting to fast-changing conditions and short-term needs as business continuity plans were defined and activated. Even for those who were somewhat prepared, the shift to all-remote work was jarring, as IT departments had to deploy or update the applications and the infrastructure they ran on. For those less prepared, it placed crisis on-top of crisis.
There just wasn’t enough time to lay the groundwork for a fully-fledged, secure and connected remote work strategy. Users may have been asked to adopt an unfamiliar working scenario or tools they weren’t used to overnight. After the initial deployment, challenges around use and support arose.
Next came the need to support a stable, workable employee experience in the new all-remote environment. This produced its own challenges as networks came under unusual stress, people learned how to work in the new reality and cyber criminals wasted no time exploiting the confusion.
The silver lining: The journey from business-as-usual to all-remote work at the outset has already started either to rapidly define or push forward a digital workplace strategy.
If you weren’t transforming through technology six weeks ago, you likely are now.
The roll out of modern collaboration, remote access and the accompanying security and network changes has equipped your organization to be more flexible, more secure and less tied to the core office environment and the proverbial walled garden.
The pandemic has also prompted many businesses to ask the question, “is it what we’re selling or how we’re selling?” For example, take a brick-and-mortar butcher that has embraced digital ordering and curbside pickup to accommodate physical distancing requirements. Already, the owner reports higher satisfaction from customers as they pick up purchases rather than wait in long lines the way they had pre-crisis. Meanwhile, selling through digital pre-order means the owners keep less inventory on-hand and dramatically reduced waste.
In short, transforming through technology, albeit quickly and out of necessity, has improved the customer experience while making the business more efficient.
If you’ve been through this kind of change, you already have more flexibility around the digital workplace, where and how you recruit talent and deliver products and services to your customers.
Security and Stability to Reduced Cost and Risk
The economic impact of the pandemic is ongoing and cost management has become urgent for organizations in every vertical. IT departments have or are about to enter an “efficiency phase” aimed at reducing costs and increasing return on existing investments.
Many organizations are now embarking on the process of rationalizing software, infrastructure (and in some unfortunate cases, personnel). At this stage, it’s important to stay focused on gains in stability as you look for ways to reduce short-term cost and risk.
It’s also important to keep in mind that recovery will begin eventually. Steps taken toward cost efficiency now should aim at streamlining for faster growth and innovation in that recovery stage. Simply put, you can come out of this an “optimized” organization.
Meanwhile, IT departments may have to find ways to support this new environment with fewer resources than they had before. The need to establish a zero-trust security posture hasn’t gone away, but options for doing so may be more limited. Every organization has its own financial needs and pressures that impact technology spending and many will be looking at new models of subscription, financing and leasing.
The streamlining of IT operations and infrastructure, while difficult today, will set up efficiencies that support a strong recovery.
There is no financial solution that fits every situation. For example, while shifting to subscription or OPEX (operational expenditure) models may work for some, this doesn’t suit organizations with cash flow or debt covenant issues. Considering the right financial options to meet your specific budget and technology needs will be paramount.
Nonetheless, rightsizing the data center or a broader use of public cloud to optimize efficiency, rationalizing licenses and augmenting your own resources with cost-efficient solutions will set you up for agility later. As another upside, many CIOs and IT leaders have received long overdue support for business continuity planning (BCP), modern collaboration and other transformation initiatives.
Driving Efficiency to Thriving in Recovery
The journey out of finding efficiencies and into recovery will build on the lessons learned in enabling remote work and streamlining costs. In this phase, the steps you took to ensure you got to recovery, done the right way, will help you gain a competitive advantage and thrive once there. In some cases, the crisis has put transformative projects into higher gear, by highlighting the urgent need for modern, agile IT tools and infrastructure.
The PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey in April found that half of those surveyed intend to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow. Meanwhile, 40% said that COVID-19 has prompted them to explore the use of technology to enable automation and new ways of working.
This includes redefining the way you work and collaborate through IT automation, analytics and governance. It also includes innovating new ways to connect with and support customers for continued revenue growth. Sticking to this goal as you drive your decision-making in response to the pandemic will help ensure you thrive. To this end, organizations should re-evaluate their digital transformation agenda with the following changes in mind.
Most if not all the workforce is working remotely today – to what extent will this become permanent? What lessons about remote work can you apply on a lasting basis?
When the time comes, returning to work safely will require a holistic strategy that pulls together technology, facilities and human resources groups as well as senior leaders.
Your approach to engaging with employees and customers may have changed out of necessity. But that process of innovation should continue to have a positive impact during recovery and beyond.
How Softchoice Will Continue to Help
The response to the global pandemic has not been easy on any organization, but the hard work they are doing today has the potential to help them come back stronger and more competitive than before.
From adapting to change and ensuring business continuity to driving efficiency and setting the stage for future growth, Softchoice can help you make the right choices to build and sustain momentum out of the crisis and into recovery.
Are you ready to re-imagine your digital transformation journey?
The Softchoice Virtual Discovery Expo (VDX) on Thursday May 21, 2020 is a full-day, no-cost virtual conference designed to provide the insights and explore the technology trends driving business transformation, from the cloud and hybrid IT to end-user collaboration, networking and security. Register now for Softchoice VDX