No-one was prepared for the upheaval that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused over the past 15 months. IT has played a crucial role in efforts to keep everything working as normally as possible during this period but many things have changed – perhaps forever. Here are six of the main lessons we have learned and the changes we shall have to get used to from here on.
For many organizations, digital transformation initiatives were already on the planning horizon before COVID. The pandemic simply meant that they had to be brought forward and carried out at breakneck speed. For other businesses, including many small enterprises, it has been a wake-up call. Digital options are no longer viewed as an extravagance but as a necessity. Some have quickly created a new digital presence from scratch whilst others are still seeking ways to translate their old business models into the new media and reach out to a new customer base.
IT leaders are now looking earnestly at solutions previously seen as ‘fringe’, including AI-based tools, automation, and virtual employee management systems.
COVID has required many organizations to abandon long-established conventions and business operations. Suddenly, “agility” was more than a buzzword. It turns out that agility is a necessity for survival as well-understood consumer habits and well-oiled distribution chains have begun to crumble. Some people in senior management as well as in IT were quick to embrace remote-working and ramped-up their online infrastructures. Others are still resisting it like a trip to the dentist. Those ablest to embrace change will be smiling a lot sooner.
The pandemic highlighted the need for more collaborative ecosystems. The shift to more collaborative working is likely to be a permanent one, even if some businesses welcome employees back to main offices in the near future. The future for most businesses will be a hybrid approach: the splitting time between the office and home has so many advantages it will become the new normal.
CIOs need to find the right balance of cohesion, collaboration, and staff well-being. By working with external and internal partners, in-house IT staff can gain the new knowledge they need quickly and find new resources to stay ahead of the competition.
Because everyone has become more reliant on IT support services, and the number of devices being used has soared, there are now many more opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit. Organizations are slowly realizing how much damage cyberattacks can cause, sending cybersecurity to the top of the list of IT priorities. Since we cannot swim against the digital tide, the way forward is better Cloud security solutions.
IT can provide business solutions
In some organizations, IT was still seen as a “service” before the pandemic and not a leader of business innovation. When the pandemic exposed countless weaknesses in long-standing business processes and operations, it was IT that stepped up to the plate and provided solutions such as health apps, virtual desktops, click-and-collect e-commerce sites, and video conferencing platforms. External software platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams were also able to quickly upscale, providing valuable solutions for the entire economy. Enterprises able to quickly scale-up digitally have seen their market value soar.
Many expectations have shifted permanently as businesses realize that IT can help them work to shorter lead times and continue providing goods and services in extreme and unpredictable historical circumstances. These events have demonstrated that IT is, or should be, a leading force in how businesses conduct business from now on.
A new-look IT workforce
Due to these many unprecedented challenges, many business leaders have realized they need different kinds of IT experts in their organizations than they did before the pandemic. The new IT workforce must be able to work autonomously, collaborate virtually, and constantly focus on being agile and solution-focused.