For most employees, mobile technology has been crucial for staying connected to our business organisations — both those we work for and those we support. Staying in touch allows us to be effective in our individual roles, whilst also linking us to our colleagues and clients. Indeed, during a time of massive transformation, we are almost taking it for granted that our IT services will remain stable and serviceable.
Even where organisations have additional constraints, such as security or dependencies on traditional working environments, IT platforms have been readily able to step up and take on additional workloads to provide the necessary support services — whether that be through rapid expansion and delivery of working-from-home services, employee assistance projects, or the adoption of smarter support practises that reduce the IT estate’s risk of potentially critical resource losses.
If the distributed workforce is to remain effective, interoperability and collaboration are now key enablers. Once again, proven, existing platforms and core IT services provide the bedrock on which new ways of working and new collaborative business activities can be built. They can’t replace the need for human interaction, but having secure and reliable access to them can remediate many of the challenges to working in new ways. Whether delivered in the cloud or on-premises, the need for stable and resilient IT platforms has never been more critical.
Adapt to survive
These unprecedented times have also pushed focussed adaptation — organisations using elements of their IT and digital ecosystems to solve specific challenges faced by the business or client. Where previous investments might have focussed on a “one size fits all” approach, it’s now possible, with a little ingenuity and more-focussed application, to offer the business key feature updates through its IT platform.
For example, novel reporting applications aren’t based on new, leading-edge technologies, but rather on existing services and functions adapted and pulled together to provide a focussed, directed outcome. Instead of bogging down these applications by identifying new and niche technologies, they’re rapidly integrating existing, available capabilities and data sets that have remained largely untapped until now.
Users are also more comfortable with extending their engagement with the IT services team if they feel the team will help them in difficult times and therefore become more supportive of these adaptations than perhaps would normally be the case. Whereas previously a large-scale business change activity would have enveloped such work, now organisations are full of people willing to adapt their own processes for the benefit of using these new capabilities.
As we move forward, businesses will be looking to revalidate their investment in IT and workforce effectiveness, as well as looking to revisit the intrinsic value of core IT services in times of crisis. Whereas previously a drive to cost efficiencies meant that SLAs were under ever-increasing pressure, resilience was often seen as optional.
Businesses are now likely to value a stable environment that retains access for users and clients as more important — not just from a technical viewpoint, but also from a cultural one. The trust we put in the organisations we work for, or deal with, will undoubtedly be influenced by our awareness of how they support us. Similarly, the investment in future capabilities will need to examine what to keep from the now-proven platform, versus what to replace. The balance will be considerably harder to assess now that the importance of resilience, continued user access, and the need for targeted adaptation has become evident.
Disrupt and support
Note, however, that this is not a plea to retain the status quo. The need for new and disruptive technologies remains, along with the need to develop and transform business through IT. Still, recent events have reminded us that simply focussing on new technology features while ignoring the underlying, core IT-enabled services and capabilities is a mistake. We all need a more balanced view, not just the owners of IT and the businesses they enable, but us, as end users.
By relying on technology to stay connected and engaged in a crisis, it’s the businesses that have managed to support their workforce and clients that are best prepared for what comes next — and perhaps, the ones that are able to support others in the long, hard road to recovery that follows.