3 digital transformation & remote work lessons from 2020
Well, friends, we have made it to the second half of 2020. As IT professionals, we are the first responders for the technology health of our organizations. In speaking with peers like you, we know it's been tough adapting to the new work requirements forced upon us by the current pandemic situation.
One of our business partners just celebrated their organization’s 20th anniversary. They were preparing to open just as 1999 was ending. If you recall at that time, the world was focused on a vexing IT challenge called Y2K. And while the damage wrought by Y2K was minimal as compared to the hype, that moment became an inflection point in the history of our industry. Afterwards, business continuity and disaster recovery solutions became more ingrained as part of a normal IT stack along with cloud storage.
Two decades later, we have arrived at another inflection point. The pandemic has reshaped how we deliver IT services and has effectively removed “place” from the word workplace. Offering remote work options is now an operational and recruiting imperative. As several of our senior executives like to say, “Communications is now the biggest part of IT for all the wrong reasons.” The importance of communications and collaboration is only going to get bigger and bigger just like cloud storage did after Y2K.
If I have learned anything in the last six months, it is that we, as IT professionals, must make sure our communications and collaboration services are available everywhere so that our employees can serve customers from anywhere. This is true because agility and global communications capabilities are becoming fronts in competitive environments. They can drive down costs and administrative complexities, and perhaps most importantly, serve as the centerpiece of a corporate resiliency program.
A second major lesson I have learned since the pandemic began is the importance of having a sense of urgency with your business transformation and long-term planning. It is the IT professional’s burden, I suppose, to prepare for the unknown especially as the unknown seems to be coming at us at a rapid pace. But that is what we do.
What does this mean in practical terms for your business transformation?
As I reiterated in my last post about user adoption, you should define the problems you want to solve by engaging with employees in different business units and located in multiple geographic areas. I emphasize this because while it seems elementary, the stakes are extraordinary. There is pressure from the C-suite to implement remote work solutions fast and there is pressure from vendors to purchase this or that. You never want to solve for "A" when your internal customers need solution "B." Involving users in the new transformation process is my most important piece of advice because it can help you make decisions faster that will generate better business outcomes.
Transformation is not just about buying new services or implementing new processes. It is also about auditing what you already have and what you are already doing. Ask pertinent questions that can help you discover what processes and services you can streamline, cut, or redistribute. In our journey, we have made more Adobe Creative Suite licenses and additional software available to help employees perform more tasks that they would otherwise contract out. We have eliminated other software that provided duplicate functionality. We have also stepped up required security training especially around phishing because people tend to be more relaxed about security from their living room rather than from their desk at the office.
Now is the time to press your vendors and technology partners to help ensure you have the right security services to match your business needs. Identity and authentication are critical conversations you need to be having as part of your transformation conversations. While every remote work program needs a level of user authentication, not everyone does require a VPN or dual-factor authentication.
If you are considering communications service from 8x8 or another provider, you also need to consider networking capabilities at the office and at employee homes too because they impact the user experience tremendously.
This kind of due diligence work is so incredibly vital right now. If you have not already done so, start now. The point is transformation projects are massive. They do, however, shine a light on how important we IT professionals are to organizational success.
My third major lesson from 2020 so far is to get help from solution provider experts that can add expertise to your bench and help you personalize your business transformation. 8x8 has a great portfolio of partners who put your needs first. We can help connect you if you need to find one.
The urgency of the times, the competitive battles ahead, and the need to be ready to adapt to unplanned business disruptions underscore why you need to take work-from-anywhere and related digital transformation projects seriously and with haste.
To end on some positive news, I believe the pandemic taught everyone that you can no longer think of IT as a commodity. The job you do now is strategic and a pillar of good corporate governance. The pressure you face and the unreasonable (sometimes) demands you are given mean that you, as IT professionals, are true business heroes.
Good luck navigating the second half of 2020! At 8x8, we are here to help.
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