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Pass the Puck: 4 Things I.T. Needs Now for a Haul
Compulsive Hand Sanitizing? Check. Community Volunteer? Check. Regular Chats with friends and family? Check. Remote Worker? Check and double-check!
Like every other right-thinking human out there, I am working hard to stay focused on the ‘here and now to help get me and those around me through the immediate crisis. But as I get comfortable with this new routine, my mind has been drifting to ice hockey great, Wayne Gretzky. Wayne famously advised, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” This phrase became so overused in motivational speeches and strategy powerpoints, that impassioned pleas to just stop using it altogether were published in the Canadian press. But even the most jaded of Canadians will admit, at no time was this advice more relevant to the business world than now.
Simply put, the puck, at least in terms of the intersection of IT and business operations, is going to be in a much different position as we all start to return to work. The response to COVID19 had changed the world forever and if you thought the digital transformation was happening quickly before, hold onto your hats.
Whenever there used to be hesitation around the value of I.T. Investment aimed at business continuity
Remote working options, moving critical services to public-cloud infrastructure, and automation of repetitive, but critical processes…there will now be considerably less resistance to investment. For those that had a plan(ish), infrastructure, and behaviors (enough) in place to move their activities and transactions online, many have been able to mitigate the damage to cash flow that isolation mandates have caused. Boards and executive teams across all sectors will not fail to take note of companies that struggle to recover or that failed to survive at all because they did not, or could not, digitize their operations.
So, as the attention of exec teams and boards begins to shift toward further digital transformation of their operating models, I predict the puck for IT will move in the following 4 ways:
4 Ways I.T. NEEDS TO MOVE THE PUCK
1. Remote Working
Firstly, remote working will now blossom like a rose in bloom. The next 3 months will prove to many leaders, previously skeptical, that remote working is really just fine in terms of productivity. Tools such as Slack, Zoom, Teams, GSuite, O365, etc are perfectly adequate to keep on top of things. Yes, places of business, office culture, and in-person meetings will all continue to be very important pieces in the patchwork of a company’s identity.
However, the balance will now shift decidedly toward remote working as a bigger proportion of the quilt. The tech is mature enough to support it, it’s been around long enough now that IT teams understand it and the risk of not developing the ability to work from home is all too stark. (I hate to say it, people…this isn’t our last pandemic outbreak.)
2. Remote Working Accelerates IT Projects
Secondly, this acceleration toward remote working will lead to a raft of IT projects including cloud service implementations, network, and connectivity upgrades, laptop, and mobile device upgrades, etc., which will also continue the trend of making cybersecurity much more of a team sport. We already started hearing cries from infosec professionals a decade ago to “abandon the perimeter” as a defensive posture. There has been a lot written and said about the need to ensure that cyber security is involved as early and as much as possible in IT planning and execution.
3. Automation of Key Processes
Thirdly, process streamlining and automation of key processes will also accelerate. How can we keep things humming in the background while our people handle the next bump in the road? True agility will be defined by organizations that have highly autonomous digital operations, staffed with process and technology experts who understand how to tweak the configuration of those digital operations in response to changing business conditions and the occasional global crisis.
You want your machines doing the repetitive work, you want your people thinking about how things might need to change to survive and thrive.
4. Soft Skills and Business Acumen
Lastly, success for IT professionals and infosec specialists alike will rely far more on soft skills and business acumen than ever before.
In spite of the push by business leaders to get closer to the issues highlighted above, their understanding of the guts of tech will still be short of the ability to make good judgment calls on investment.
Because of this lack of intimacy with IT innards, they will still approach these decisions with apprehension.
IT leaders need to close that gap, not by meeting them halfway, but by meeting them on their turf. IT has been clamoring for a seat on the board for decades. The doors will start to open now, more quickly than ever before. But they will close just as quickly if we continue to insist that they speak our language and if we can’t negotiate deals and paths forward using their rules.
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