Crisis Lessons: Using IT’s Elevated Status to Accelerate Digital Agility

Sep 15, 2020, 00:00 AM by Chris Banks
Read highlights from the IDG TechTalk Twitter chat.

A new IDG survey revealed that IT decision-makers who were already engaged in some stages of digital transformation (DX) believe that their investments left them better prepared and able to cope with widespread disruptions of normal business operations. The survey indicates that the crisis exposed some vulnerabilities in digital agility even for companies whose DX efforts are mature. As a result, many organizations have begun to rethink their priorities and plan to increase their digital agility. Another outcome is that IT leaders will likely have a larger say in how to move forward, as a large majority of the respondents indicated that the crisis has elevated the position of IT at the executive decision-making table.

Participants in an IDG TechTalk Twitter chat addressing the survey results indicated they believe that IT leaders need to take advantage of their new-found strategic prominence to continue pushing their organizations further along the digital transformation path.

In particular, IT leaders need to act on the lessons learned from what worked, and didn’t, as organizations vastly increased their reliance on remote work and digital business models. That includes settling on communication and collaboration platforms that are effective for their organizations. It also would be beneficial to figure out what to do about inconsistent internet connectivity and bandwidth that can downgrade workers’ experiences.

Take a seat – not just any seat!

With IT leaders getting a seat at the executive management table, now is the time for them to demonstrate how crucially strategic IT is to the future of an increasingly digital business.

Watch the gap!

Given that many organizations likely rolled out new work from home and other capabilities with haste foremost among considerations, it’s crucial to step back and review what, if any, potential security vulnerabilities may have been created.

Where did we put that remote?

Driven by a combination of government mandate and concerns over worker and customer safety, many organizations pivoted rapidly to remote work wherever possible. For some, it was an extension of a growing trend to a more distributed workforce; for others, it may have represented an abrupt shift in corporate culture and work processes. Regardless of how they got there, the experience undoubtedly opened many eyes to greater potential.

‘Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?’

Especially in the early days of this crisis, some efforts to utilize communication and collaboration platforms for remote work could be as frustrating as a conversation with Lily Tomlin’s telephone operator character, Ernestine. Many workers were unfamiliar with new tools. Some legacy platforms are showing signs of stagnation. And even when everything worked smoothly for an organization, partners and customers were often using different platforms that could create jarring experiences on both sides.

Moving forward

Undoubtedly there are many lessons learned from the current crisis, and it’s imperative that IT learn from the hits and misses to ensure the digital organization gains greater agility moving forward.

Paying the piper

Continuing transformation efforts come with a price, and as the current crisis recedes it may be tempting for senior executives to downplay the need for continuing investment to ensure business agility. IT must tally up its successes and the potential costs of failing to act.

Getting strategic about data

Data strategy should be at the forefront of digital transformation investment and it is up to IT to make the case that this is essential to digital agility, worker/customer experience, and competitive advantage. But simply accumulating all available data is not a strategic approach.

Information needs a highway, not a byway

It’s all well and fine to put the latest collaboration and communications tools in the hands of remote workers, but if they don’t have a decent Internet connection they won’t be able to optimize use of those tools. If connectivity is inconsistent, teams will not be able to mesh most effectively, and user frustration can grow and sap not only productivity but also morale.

Organizations that want to foster the most productive work from home environments may find they need to invest in more robust connectivity for their employees.

We’re all pulling together, right?

As they extend and formalize broader work from home initiatives, organizations need to make sure they’re meeting the needs of workers and not expecting them to independently make up for shortcomings in a company’s strategy and IT assets.

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