A Year in Review: Our Take On 2020

Well, that was unusual. 2020 is a year none of us will forget. In this blog, we’ll give you our take, looking at the challenges and opportunities of the last 12 months.

2020 – of course it’s a year nobody will forget in a hurry (however hard we may try). The biggest pandemic for more than 100 years has caused us to fundamentally change the way we live and work, forcing us to consider the way we go about everything in our day to day lives. After such a year, we felt it fitting to write a short blog about our look over the past 12 months. And while 2020 has undoubtedly bought a swathe of herculean challenges and turmoil, we must also find time to identify opportunity in the madness.

Working From Home

Now, as you may already know, we’ve talked a few times about working from home in a number of blogs and even a discussion paper looking at what the ‘new normal’ meant for business & IT. For those businesses lucky enough to be able to move its work to a more remote model, WFH has become one of the defining features of the past year. For a business such as ours, the concept of remote working was not an alien one. Our staff work off laptops, with work stored securely in the cloud, with colleagues communicating over Slack. So when the news came in March that businesses were to be asked to move to home working, we, thankfully, were prepared. However, any major shift in the way a business works is never going to be free of issues. The IT problems in businesses working from an office, for instance, are vastly different to those of a workforce all working from their own homes. IT Service desks have had to deal with solving issues remotely, without the relatively controlled environment of an office to ensure an optimum environment in which to work in. Some other businesses were caught completely off guard, faced with an inflexible working model awash with immovable PC’s, vast office space and an inadequate communication strategy. Other sectors such as retail were forced to re-evaluate priorities, with digital strategy moving to the forefront of business priorities. This shift in the fundamental operations of organisations across the world has presented unprecedented challenges for IT, tasked with operating an effective, well connected remote working strategy. It has also presented welcome opportunities; with IT being pushed to the forefront of business, the skills and abilities of our service desks have become ever more important, making the role of the IT department a more important and influential one.

It goes without saying that the consequences of mass home working are not felt just at a corporate level. The way we communicate with our colleagues and clients; sharing ideas, making suggestions and simply socialising, has changed. For those of us working remotely, our lives are awash with video calls, messages and emails. And while remote working will never accurately replicate the busy collaboration-facilitating environment found in most offices, there are a few small things that we, and undoubtedly many other firms have done to create a more well connected virtual working environment. Maintaining regular contact through messaging and quick catchup meetings creates a more connected workforce, aware of the goings on of colleagues and the business. At Sollertis, the small details, like keeping the video turned on during calls to see the person you’re speaking to, as well as having quizzes and other casual meetings kept the team connected and prevents colleagues feeling isolated from one another, creating a working environment that is united in its objectives, and more efficient in its communication.

It was an undeniably strange experience packing up our things back in March of last year, cleaning down the office, not knowing when we would properly return to the office. Weeks? Months? Well, as I sit here writing this, I’m sitting in my study, still miles away from the office, working from my trusty laptop, with kids and dogs being a welcome distraction at times. And while we all long for a day when we can regularly be back in the office, talk face to face to colleagues and enjoy general office banter, we’re lucky that home working has, on the whole, been a largely successful and productive experience – regular meetings, plenty of chat on Slack and work saved on the cloud has made it a less isolating and alien experience. It hasn’t been without its hiccups, though. Being at home with a newborn, a 4-year old and a dog has been a challenge at times. Clients and Prospects alike have got to know me personally; with regular interruptions from my daughter running into my office after school, not realising I’m on a call, or a knock at the door when Christmas presents arrive; shortly followed by Burt my dog barking incessantly. And whilst this might not seem professional, this is what we have all had to go through and it has ended up bringing more personality to our meetings; building better relationships and, to some degree, humanising the experience. 

IT In a Pandemic

Broadly speaking, as an industry, IT has been fortunate to have been able to operate largely without major disruption over the past 12 months. Of course this isn’t to say 2020 has been free of challenges – the pandemic has shifted the way we work, affecting workforce wellbeing and forcing businesses to adapt their priorities (and their budgets accordingly). At Sollertis, these changes adaptations led to a fall in demand for services – so, like many organisations like ours, we were forced to adapt in turn. Our priorities shifted to our new product offering, OneBot – a new chatbot tool that links your communication tool such as Teams or Slack to your favourite applications like Cherwell and Comaround (you can check OneBot out here). This has allowed us to continue to offer the same great services, whilst also adapting to the new climate in which we all find ourselves, more aware of uncertainty and agile in our actions.

As we’ve already mentioned both in this blog and in others, the role of IT and it’s importance in the wider business context has changed. Organisations that previously had little in the way of digital presence have been forced online by the pandemic, while other organisations have rushed to adapt their infrastructure to accommodate remote working and a more flexible operating model. The ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ model simply doesn’t work in a world as fast-moving and as full of uncertainty as ours. It can be easy to find a particular process or product and become complacent. But while some businesses may well have been caught out by this, the last year has also shown us the power of IT to respond to the unexpected. By utilising the power of technology, businesses across the globe from retailers to our badly hit hospitality sector have managed to find new, innovative ways of operating in the most challenging of conditions, creating online marketplaces, finding new ways of interacting with customers, and devising new ways of providing products and services virtually. For a number of businesses, the position of IT has changed from a useful tool, to a necessity, with IT specialists on the service desk, marketing, and operations teams given a seat at the table steering the direction of a business. All too often, IT is seen as a secondary function within a business, concerning no one more than a small, select group of ‘techies’ native more to long lines of code than standard written English. With this shift in focus, a newfound respect for the importance of technology in all aspects of business is sure to follow.

Of course, this newly established focus on the importance of IT brings its challenges, as well as it’s welcome opportunities. It’s inevitable that as the importance of IT within an organisation increases, so does the pressure. Where IT may once have been a useful tool, it now forms the backbone of the business – in many an organisation, it could well be argued that if the tech fails, the business fails. All this pressure requires resources to cope, and in the current economic climate recovering from the economic impact of coronavirus, funding and resources is a precious commodity. More and more, companies are turning to new, cost-effective ways of running the IT Service desk capabilities of their business. Managed Services, such as those offered by Sollertis, have become increasingly popular in 2020, relying on specialist consultants to provide an ITSM solution that can provide the reliability, stability and features the increased demands require. Organisations across the UK and around the world have been made acutely aware of the dangers of running a completely reactive IT strategy vulnerable to disruption, and are now looking at managed services as a way of operating a more proactive model that makes running the day-to-day easier. 

So, as we look back at 2020, we see a year full of challenges – companies the world over have changed the way they work, with priorities shifted and operations adapted. But it’s also been a year of reflection and opportunity, finding new and innovative ways of overcoming challenges and becoming more efficient in what we do. 

A Managed Service can be a great way of providing a more efficient, cost-effective way of delivering an IT Service Management solution that simply works; with the help of experienced consultants that live and breathe the software, giving you confidence and peace of mind. This January, we’re giving 10% off all managed services. To find out more, book a call with one of our consultants.

Picture of Kevin Baker
Kevin Baker
Kevin has been in the IT service management industry for over 12 years and has an extensive background in software development, professional services, and business management. He founded Sollertis in 2013 on the core belief that people working together can achieve anything and truly make a difference both in and out of the work environment. Today, under Kevin’s leadership, Sollertis is a leading IT and Business Convergence solution provider, that inspire, coach, develop and deliver success in ITSM, knowledge management, and business relationship management to organisations across multiple sectors world-wide.
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