Keep calm, exceed expectations
More than mere resilience is needed these days. Ride the wave of change that is already lapping at your ankles, says Paul Hearns
13 August 2020 | 0
Scanning all the usual – and some not so usual – sources, and the intelligence coming back is that things have changed, and changed utterly.
From service demand to work practices and on to procurement and implementation, the world of information technology has been severely impacted since the Covid-19 issue became a global public health emergency.
With many resurgences around the world, even in countries that were thought to have dealt effectively with initial outbreaks, it has shown that public health measures are likely to remain stringent and persistent in the coming months. While there are rays of hope around vaccine trials in various places, equally, many experts are worried by the claims from Russia for an effective safe vaccine, based on such a small, short trial.
The implications for IT are somewhat clear – workforces will be predominantly working from home for the foreseeable future, travelling less and expecting more of connectivity, data access and general services, to allow them to do their jobs under the new, and constantly changing, circumstances.
What this means is that IT departments will be increasingly looking for flexibility, elasticity, ease of access and control, transparency (in both performance and billing), and the ability to add or remove services at short notice. That means many will be leaning heavily on managed service providers and partners for the help and level of service they need.
I have already heard anecdotally of organisations heavily leveraging technical support partners to enable sudden mass home/remote working, and expecting it at zero or vastly reduced cost. While some providers might be happy to absorb such one off costs, many will not, or cannot.
This will lead, inevitably, to some strained service provider relationships, as SLAs and agreements in general are reviewed to see who should pay.
This will also lead to an increase in M&A activity, as larger companies will look to acquisition to scale as demand increases, as well as the increased use of automation and AI/ML assisted tools to cope.
“I have already heard anecdotally of organisations heavily leveraging technical support partners to enable sudden mass home/remote working, and expecting it at zero or vastly reduced cost. While some providers might be happy to absorb such one off costs, many will not, or cannot”
There will also be an increase in what we have termed the “Chocolate Factory” phenomenon — each tier of service provider will see an upward pull in staffing as experience support technicians, administrators and service managers are drawn by more attractive options upward in the value chain.
Expect to see salaries increase for experience service and support people.
Added to this will be the sacred cow feast, after the slaughter of so many. As many have learned over the last few months, what was unthinkable a mere five months ago, is now the norm. Expect this sentiment to spread further. Things that were unthinkable will be reconsidered under the new conditions and what might have been seen as too risky, too complex or too expensive, might suddenly look very different. Whether it is moving or migrating an ERP system or enterprise database, or application deployment or finally cutting off an old service, expect the new expectations to prompt closer inspection of many things previously deemed unfeasible.
With so much going on, one might be forgiven for thinking the CIO and CTO should and would be heads down, in the trenches and simply getting on with things. Nothing should be further from the truth.
Now is the time to acclimatise the organisation to the pace of change that will characterise the next 6-18 months. Use that mood to ensure the IT department can respond, iterate and improve. If everyone is rolling with the peaks and troughs, then formalise it, accommodate it and ride the wave rather than drown beneath it.
Bring forward transformation goals and efforts. Ensure they can be done in conjunction with other plans and smooth the way for their benefits.
Where things move fast, the pace of everything else needs to change to keep up. Whiskey makers have, over night become makers of hand sanitiser. And while there are industries and activities that will simply have to bear the burden of our changed world for another while yet, there are others who, through good organisation and agility, have been able to pivot to success.
Harnessing the mindset change, reassessing with new perspectives, and readying for the inevitable volatility will stand to any organisation. IT has show itself able to cope and exceed expectations amid a crisis unparalleled in modern times. Build on that capital and get ahead of the change for the benefit of the entire organisation.