Preparedness, innovation and adaptability have been key for organisations the world over in the past 12 months. What can be done to improve our agility and approach to change and unpredictability?
Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen substantial changes within the organisations we work with; all the way from redundancies to heavy investments. Some organisations have taken a massive hit, while others have thrived. And while some sectors such as retail and hospitality have faced near unavoidable strain through the restrictions required, others have had their ability to survive the last 12 months hinged on the strength of their business continuity plans.
As we come out of this, some industries have had to look at themselves long and hard, and ask the pain staking question – Could the impact of the pandemic have been lessened if they had prepared more? While virtually no business could have predicted the sheer amount of change faced by society over the last year, the threat of uncertainty more broadly is a more predictable one. Specifically, the uncertainty caused by an inability to work from one place, and the need for home working.
Businesses that rely on staff being connected through telephony systems, chat, email and line of business applications such as Cherwell and Salesforce have all been impacted in different ways. Of course, it’s clear that some organisations were unable to do anything about revenue loss over the past 12 months – if demand is down across the industry, there is less of the pie to be won. However, for those able to continue trading, the question of preparedness is an unavoidable one. After all, this isn’t a question of which its relevance is confined only to the context of a pandemic. The concept of preparedness is a relevant one for any event of change or unpredictability. Has every business really thought about every eventuality? This is a question not about our response to a pandemic, but about our ability to stay connected.
If you think about how businesses have reacted to the UK lockdowns, with working from home becoming a necessity rather than a luxury, it’s clear that communication and connectivity have become key. Organisations that thought about their continuity rather than simply about system uptimes would have been more prepared for remote working, with connect anywhere solutions for telephony and other communications. Acquiring laptops rather than desktops, and going for IP telephony vs traditional phone lines would have been an investment in agility and modernisation.
Of course, there’s more to it than just swapping to a laptop. I’ve heard plenty of talk about the potential security issues and risks associated with such items. However, technology and remote assistance solutions have come a long way in recent times – laptops often have biometric security and remote wipe functionality that can secure data and prevent users from installing anything potentially harmful. Given this, I, and a growing number of business leaders, do not always understand the need to acquire location specific devices or connectivity.
As a business owner, certainly during the early years, it was very hard to make some investments when cashflow is at the heart of any decision. When a cheaper solution is available and the end result appears the same, it can be hard to justify the additional cost to make the service or solution more agile and reactive to change. Unfortunately, for some organisations over the last few months, taking the cheaper option will have been a been a damaging lesson in the importance of investing in agility.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of laptops and mobiles have been purchased by organisations in their reaction to the pandemic, mobilising their workforce to allow them to work from home. Not only that; thousands of pounds have been spend acquiring new VPN licenses to enable access to mission critical files and applications.
Organisations that made investments in technology, those that saw IT and technology as a business enabler rather than a cost centre, wouldn’t have been impacted as much by the pandemic due to the business continuity benefits it has provided. Enabling a mobile workforce and using connect anywhere applications such a IP telephony systems would have proven invaluable over the last 12 months. At the drop of a hat, their workforce would have been working from home as if nothing had happened.
Other ways organisations have prepared themselves is by investing in Managed Services such as JustEat. Over the last year, the hospitality sector has been forced to adapt to a completely new way of working, with many business turning to a delivery or takeaway service, turning to services like JustEat or Deliveroo to handle the ordering and/or delivery. Whilst restaurant owners wouldn’t be getting as much margin on their products as they would if they ran the service themselves, it can really be worth the headache when you can have experts in the service manage it all for you. The same question should be asked of any aspect of any business. Why would the business take on the responsibility of managing part of the business if someone that lives and breathes the service, day in day out with a team of specialists at their disposal, could take care of it? Often, the response to this is one of fear at the increased costs of a managed service. Yes, Managed Services come at a premium but they also come with a best in breed, reactive and best practice approach to meeting your demands. Not all Managed Services are born equally and we know of organisations that have been burnt by them. However, the concept is still valid. If you way up the pros and cons in light of the pandemic, I don’t think anyone could argue that outsourcing specialist skills can provide a more reactive and agile service for the business.
So what does this mean for the world of IT? As we move into a new phase of recovery, and as we return to a more ‘normal’ way of working, businesses will be looking at ways to ensure greater flexibility and agility in the way they work. Having a managed service to look after your organisation’s IT operation can help to alleviate uncertainty, with a dedicated team on hand to deal with the software you’re using, while the Service Desk team can focus on helping your users with the day to day.
Sollertis offer a full range of Managed Services for Cherwell users, giving you unrivalled access to Europe’s Most Experienced Cherwell consultants. If you’re interested in finding out how Sollertis Managed Services could help your business achieve IT success, you can find out more here.