Historically, connecting people to the data and applications they needed to do their jobs was the primary focus of most computer systems. It was relatively easy to do it. The central data source was physically there in the offices, and connectivity to the various devices was straightforward. Backing up that data, ensuring proper cybersecurity processes, and staying resilient were clear and relatively straightforward to achieve. With employees in a centralized location, controlling the entire company’s IT infrastructure was much easier.
With the rise of devices and the evolution of work environments catalyzed by the pandemic, the challenge facing organizations is that while the basic premise of corporate network and landscaping is still the same , there is a new expectation that solutions can be found quickly, even when data is geographically scattered. The infrastructure must now operate at multiple sites, serving multiple business areas.
In many cases, and with the pandemic deprioritizing IT spending and prioritizing keeping businesses in business, organizations have struggled to stay resilient. According to a recent Globalscape report, a third of organizations report dealing with downtime issues at least once a month, highlighting a persistent lack of resilience in organizations facing the challenges of the pandemic.
Businesses now need to examine their IT operations, their resilience and ability to adapt in the event of a disruption or disaster, and whether services go down or are targeted. A resilient business needs resilient leadership, so the responsibility lies with them.
Recognize the cost of a resilient IT infrastructure
Cost will always play a role in the decision-making process, especially at the senior management level. It is not uncommon to reject expensive solutions in favor of a cheaper option. Likewise, there is also no unnecessary overspending on legacy systems that are no longer fit for purpose.
Before the pandemic, IT strategies looked at which applications and services would give a competitive advantage, how much of the budget was allocated to that particular task, and where savings can be made. This strategy must change and companies must reflect on their ability to support any strategy they put in place.
If you look at budgets in general, the occupancy and budget perspectives are intrinsically linked and feed into each other. For example, IDC estimates that 25-30% of employees will work only from home. Organizations should therefore consider whether the budget for physical computer software for the office is as necessary as the spending for cybersecurity software spanning devices in multiple geographies. Or on a hybrid cloud infrastructure that ensures data is accessible from anywhere and is able to keep regularly updated backups. It will be essential to ensure that there is someone in the leadership who is invested in this strategy, and who is able to make timely decisions which not only to add, but to remove software, will be the key.
Accommodation for a hybrid business
Employees want more flexibility, and businesses want to reduce the costs of unnecessary rented space. But how do you support a hybrid work model with an adequate, secure and resilient IT infrastructure?
In the rush to keep going, many companies have made quick decisions and often adopted the wrong services for their organization. Our own research found that more than half (53%) of UK IT decision-makers believe they made unnecessary technology investments during the Covid-19 pandemic, and by speeding up or ignoring their original strategy, hindered their long-term resilience.
One thing that almost all businesses have recognized throughout the pandemic is that their employees are the most critical and limiting factor for their business. Employee time is precious and in the absence of technology to support them in their role, productivity will drop and employees can become an insider cybersecurity threat. If businesses recognize that the hybrid is the new normal and that their employees should be the priority, they can understand how IT goes from an expense to an added value. While most of this is due to a pandemic that no one could have predicted, companies and their executives now need to ensure they haven’t created the perfect storm of a distributed workforce. and disconnected which may experience service failures.
How to lead from above
Leaders have had to adapt to a whole new style of management, ensuring that individuals continue to feel valued, focused on their task and connected while working across different locations. They also had to make big decisions on how to cut costs that won’t impact operations. When it comes to business resilience, technology is not enough. The entire organization needs to be resilient, and the leadership team will play a big role in making this happen. For leaders to be successful in their new strategies, they must:
- Make decisions in an environment of imperfect information where compromise is inevitable and necessary. Avoid decision paralysis and no decisions are made.
- Provide a sense of purpose that allows you to focus. Leadership is about people. In times of turmoil, leaders need to be calm and collected. You have to know and understand your team, recognize the anxieties.
- Trust employees to do the right thing and in return, they will trust management decisions. Culture beats strategy every time.
- Have clear, consistent, open and transparent communication throughout the company. Developing a shared understanding is the key.
On the way to 2022
Before the pandemic, management teams often passed on their IT strategies to dedicated teams or even outsourced them, but they were forced to pay more attention to the strategies that will change the way they operate. In order to ensure the resilience of their organization, leaders must pursue this strategy, make decisions about the technology used and clearly communicate these messages to their teams. Too often, leaders seem distant characters, who are not in regular contact with their employees and do not make day-to-day decisions. But, as we emerge from a time where resilience has been key, leaders have realized that the only way to lead is from above.
Chris Huggett, Senior Vice President EMEA, Sungard availability services