Crisis Lessons: Using IT’s Elevated Status to Accelerate Digital Agility

Pay attention to security, learn from missteps to maintain transformation momentum

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Marco VDM

The business disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid shift to remote work and digital business tested the capabilities of most organizations. IT decision-makers who have made progress on the path of digital transformation believe their efforts left them better prepared to deal with the crisis, according to a recent survey. As a result, according to 74% of survey participants, the role of IT has been elevated.

Participants in an IDG TechTalk Twitter chat July 16 indicated they believe that IT leaders need to take advantage of their new-found strategic prominence to continue pushing their organizations further along the digital transformation path.

In particular, IT leaders need to act on the lessons learned from what worked, and didn’t, as organizations vastly increased their reliance on remote work and digital business models. That includes settling on communication and collaboration platforms that are effective for their organizations. It also would be beneficial to figure out what to do about inconsistent internet connectivity and bandwidth that can downgrade workers’ experiences.

Moin Shaikh: “A1: The pandemic has made org. act at lightening speed and embrace cultural shift overnight, which means that change can happen in short time if we are agile & proactive enough to drive the change. Org. must not get back to previous mindset of being reactive.” #IDGTechTalk

Take a seat – not just any seat!

With IT leaders getting a seat at the executive management table, now is the time for them to demonstrate how crucially strategic IT is to the future of an increasingly digital business.

Watch the gap!

Given that many organizations likely rolled out new work from home and other capabilities with haste foremost among considerations, it’s crucial to step back and review what, if any, potential security vulnerabilities may have been created.

Where did we put that remote?

Driven by a combination of government mandate and concerns over worker and customer safety, many organizations pivoted rapidly to remote work wherever possible. For some, it was an extension of a growing trend to a more distributed workforce; for others, it may have represented an abrupt shift in corporate culture and work processes. Regardless of how they got there, the experience undoubtedly opened many eyes to greater potential.

“A2: Cloud, Collaboration, and Communication technologies and tools have been vital to our business continuity” comments Shaikh. “With teams and clients spread across diff. time zones, these tools have allowed us to operate in sync. with each other even during the peak.” #IDGTECHtalk

‘Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?’

Especially in the early days of this crisis, some efforts to utilize communication and collaboration platforms for remote work could be as frustrating as a conversation with Lily Tomlin’s telephone operator character, Ernestine. Many workers were unfamiliar with new tools. Some legacy platforms are showing signs of stagnation. And even when everything worked smoothly for an organization, partners and customers were often using different platforms that could create jarring experiences on both sides.

Moving forward

Undoubtedly there are many lessons learned from the current crisis, and it’s imperative that IT learn from the hits and misses to ensure the digital organization gains greater agility moving forward.

Jack at Unibright adds: “ensure that systems that support remote work are linked. Listen to employees and go for small successes (and celebrate them too)” #idgtechtalk

Arsalan Kahn: “A2: Reassessment of business processes that are useful vs. wasteful and then seeing which technologies are supporting or creating hinderances. Usually specific tech really isn’t that much of a factor unless we make it so.” #idgtechtalk #DigitalTransformation

Paying the piper

Continuing transformation efforts come with a price, and as the current crisis recedes it may be tempting for senior executives to downplay the need for continuing investment to ensure business agility. IT must tally up its successes and the potential costs of failing to act.

Ed Featherston: Yeh, I have clients right now in 3 buckets 1) hunker down 2) accelerate existing innovation efforts 3) quick throw everything in the cloud it will save us #3 definitely in shiny toy mode #IDGTECHtalk

Getting strategic about data

Data strategy should be at the forefront of digital transformation investment and it is up to IT to make the case that this is essential to digital agility, worker/customer experience, and competitive advantage. But simply accumulating all available data is not a strategic approach.

Information needs a highway, not a byway

It’s all well and fine to put the latest collaboration and communications tools in the hands of remote workers, but if they don’t have a decent Internet connection they won’t be able to optimize use of those tools. If connectivity is inconsistent, teams will not be able to mesh most effectively, and user frustration can grow and sap not only productivity but also morale.

Organizations that want to foster the most productive work from home environments may find they need to invest in more robust connectivity for their employees.

We’re all pulling together, right?

As they extend and formalize broader work from home initiatives, organizations need to make sure they’re meeting the needs of workers and not expecting them to independently make up for shortcomings in a company’s strategy and IT assets.

This is huge. It shows the relationship/gulf between work, tech and leadership. So long as these types of things keep happening, tech continues to face an uphill battle. #IDGTECHtalk

— Steven M. Prentice (@StevenPrentice) July 16, 2020

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