COVID-19 changed the way every industry approached management and operations to navigate the â€œnew normal.â€ Here, Jon Thomas, Senior Director, Product Management at BMC says in order to succeed in a world changed by COVID-19, IT leaders should lead by innovating for remote workforces.
As COVID-19 impacted every business â€“ be it retail, hospitality, or software â€“ companies have had to shift management and operations strategies to navigate the â€œnew normalâ€ and beyond.
To be successful in a pandemic-worn world, there is a new set of expectations and standards businesses must meet to survive future crises. IT leaders can help lead the way by being present for their remote workforce and maintaining security standards, optimizing IT investments, and focusing on business continuity.Â
Here are four IT strategies to weather future crises.Â
1. Being Present for Your Remote Workforce
As large portions of the workforce move remote, either by choice or necessity, enterprises must now reconcile their previously in-person structures and processes across disparate work environments. A critical challenge to solve is network performance, ensuring it supports employees’ onslaught using virtual private networks (VPNs). Whether employees are participating in video calls, hosting large presentations virtually, or sharing large files, it’s important that your network is capable of handling the workload.
To ensure you have the bandwidth necessary to support remote workers, consider:
- Modeling your current network bandwidth
- Analyzing your current bandwidth capabilities to determine if expansion is necessary.
- Proactively anticipating continuity scenarios â€“ for instance, if a network goes down, figure out how the workload can be redistributed and how adjacent networks will be impacted.
- Determining if it is a network issue or an individual compute issue when network slowdowns occur.
Additionally, by providing employees with the resources necessary, such as collaboration tools, data storage/sharing capabilities, and others, to stay efficient while working remotely, you can avoid IT bottlenecks that can slow business processes and impact the bottom line.
2. Maintaining Security Standards
Similar to network demands, organizations experienced insane stressors on the security systems they had in place as workforces went remote. At the beginning of the pandemic, the security frenzy included solutions for endpoint security controls, network, and mobile device security, and ways to enable and restrict access, such as in the case of multi-factor authentication. To continue providing a secure working environment for a remote workforce, businesses must focus on increasing security standards for end-users. This begins by assessing where the business is already successful in securing a remote workforce, and then determining where weaknesses and vulnerabilities lie. To determine this, there are a few key areas security teams need to evaluate:
- Team collaboration â€“ identify infrastructure needs to support the workforce, whether in the office or remote
- Securing user experiences â€“ evaluate whether the services in place are at risk of allowing hackers to access internal systems and information
- Trusted partners â€“ it’s important to have a security strategy in place if a key partner with access to your internal infrastructure suffers a security breach that could make your business vulnerable as wellÂ
- These initiatives may require initial infrastructure investment, however by taking the necessary steps to ensure cross-department security systems are in place, businesses can mitigate the risk of cyber intrusions within the organization
3. Optimizing IT Investments
As businesses navigate the financial impact of the pandemic, IT leaders must prepare for all future financial scenarios. For instance:
- Analyze how your organization optimized existing and unplanned IT resources in response to the pandemic to determine what worked and what didn’t.
- Identify weaknesses in your revenue projections and where existing technology can help fill the gap when new technology investment is not an option.
- Pay attention to how other businesses reacted â€“ what are they doing well, and how can you adopt those same processes to your IT strategy as it relates to investment?
- Optimize cloud spend and utilization as organizational needs change â€“ this involves maintaining cost visibility and control across the organization, rather than a â€œspend now, pay laterâ€ approach in which the organization is hit with large bills down the road.
- Avoid overspending â€“ maximize the value of existing technology stacks to meet future organizational needs.
- Vet existing tools and eliminate them if they are no longer conducive to the way your business is operating.
Further, as you’re prioritizing resource planning and identifying potential growth opportunities, keep in mind the shifting workforce landscape and what this means for your bottom line. For instance, if a large portion of your employees work remotely on a permanent basis, determine how this impacts the company’s use of collaboration tools and where additional IT resources may be needed.
4. Emphasizing Business Continuity
Though many businesses have figured out how to function in this new normal, in order to continue being successful, it’s imperative that businesses focus on business continuity.
Â IT leaders can help support businesses by:
- Empowering users to get involved in application workflows â€“ to avoid IT bottlenecks by promoting involvement at the individual level and across teams, businesses can improve efficiencies and save time and money.
- Utilizing server automation for recovery â€“ whether it be remediating security vulnerabilities or automating the management of various servers, it’s important to identify high-value automation use cases for your business.
- Prioritizing visibility across your enterprise â€“ maintaining business continuity and resiliency depends on visibility into your business’s various infrastructures, software, and service dependencies.
Taking the time to implement business continuity strategies now will serve the business in the long run, whether it’s needed to respond to an economic bounce back or another downturn.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched every business and employee to their limits and must now figure out how to plan for the road ahead. By taking the time to flesh out business strategies now that promote security, IT optimization, business continuity, and employee experiences, businesses will be better equipped for success now and in the future.