We’re living in strange and unprecedented times – no doubt about it. COVID-19 caught a lot of companies completely by surprise. No-one was quite prepared for the magnitude of the changes we’d all have to make.
While many companies can weather a short-term storm, at least from a technical point of view, few were in a position to immediately shift their entire workforce into a remote organization.
With so many different issues to navigate here (business, technical, operational), we spoke to two senior members of the InTWO team to get their takes on what’s happening now and how they think businesses will adapt when restrictions end.
Here’s what they had to say.
By Berend-Jan van Maanen
I can imagine that for many business owners, having to transform the way their company operates literally overnight is something they’d never want to repeat. But, COVID has been a catalyst for massive change in how we approach our way of working in business and IT.
Why should any of us go back to spending so much time, effort, and money commuting to and from an office when it’s being demonstrated that we can do our jobs as efficiently from home?
With companies like Twitter and Facebook setting the tone for more flexible working, I believe that we should definitely keep this practice up when we return to our ‘new normal’. However, this relies on companies having the IT set up necessary, and some general principles of remote working and remaining in contact to make remote working as easy as possible for their employees.
If businesses don’t have the right data management solutions, security measures, and cloud-based collaboration tools, then they won’t be able to work as effectively – which could lead to all kinds of problems.
By Dennis Schut
Not everyone was ready to actually have entire companies working from home- from a technology and business process perspective.
Some businesses are struggling to adjust, while others are throwing themselves into services like Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Slack, and other business IT solutions without really knowing how to get the most out of them. They’re just using them to tread water a lot of the time.
In an ideal world, video conferencing platforms, collaboration software, and cloud computing services would be assessed, tested, and explored before investment was made. But right now, such rigorous processes aren’t possible; snap decisions are being made.
The current situation we’re in has really triggered organizations to move forward with their digital transformation journeys. Not just small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but massive multinational companies too; those with their own in-house servers and others with their own data centers.
But now the scramble to acclimatize is over, there’s an opportunity for companies to take stock of what they have, what they need, and what they think they’ll need in the future.
By Berend-Jan van Maanen
While some companies may insist that employees ‘come back to work’, it may well be a short-term period of inflexibility; one that’s dictated by IT restrictions – a lack of cloud readiness, for the most part.
This is something that ties into the broader conversation about business/digital transformation. A lot of companies are waking up to the fact that, by changing their business model and the way they use IT services, there are also huge benefits and costs to be saved.
The nice thing about the cloud is that if you don’t need it, you scale down, and if you need more, you scale up. As everything’s stored centrally and remotely, business continuity and disaster recovery solutions are available and make a catastrophe easier to mitigate.
However, before businesess can take these steps towards aligning their consumption with their needs, company leaders need to examine the inner workings of their business. They need to prepare for smarter working moving forward.
We have many ACRE (architect, construction, real estate, engineering) companies as clients. While this sector has traditionally been conservative in adopting new technology, when work begins in earnest once again, there’s going to be an urgency to recuperate lost opportunities.
One way to get projects up and running again is to ensure that everyone involved in the process is aligned from a data perspective. After all, construction relies on precise measurements, blueprints, and schematics – and could absolutely benefit from a tighter set of processes and a single point of digital truth.
By Dennis Schut
Whatever sector a business operates in, digital transformation is already playing a big role, whether it’s immediately evident or not. While knowledge-based industries have largely made the transition to cloud computing, others (like manufacturing, for example) are seeing immediate benefits through being able to share data, automate processes, and collaborate more efficiently with partners.
However, every company is different, and as we’ve seen, needs can literally change from one week to the next. As Berend Jan mentioned, one of the good things about cloud services is that they’re that scalable from a capacity and cost perspective.
The cloud is scalable and predictable, meaning that businesses only pay for what they use. As a result, they can literally increase or decrease the amount of capacity they need depending on the amount of activity planned – meaning costs can easily be predicted. Cloud licenses are also offered via a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, which means you can increase or decrease licenses with flexibility, and everything can be accessed remotely. In short, all employees need in order to get full access to their work files is 1) a computer, phone, or tablet, and 2) an internet connection.
Sounds great, right? And it is- but there’s a misconception that persists around remote working that is often overlooked: security. If employees are using different devices, does that mean anyone can access company data?
Any reputable cloud service will not only provide all of the Single Sign-On services needed to ensure that employees have the correct permissions they need, they’ll also provide data encryption as well as antivirus software, and other safeguards too.
But it always pays to be cautious, particularly where customer data and GDPR are concerned, and security is an ongoing concern rather than a ‘set it and forget it’ affair. This is why it’s worth talking with a security specialist about risk mitigation and getting the right tailored solution for your business.
By Berend-Jan van Maanen
The big questions are: What’s coming next? How should we prepare? The truth is: no-one knows exactly right now. We need to accept the reality that many businesses are really suffering right now – construction retailers, travel and transport businesses, and are working on damage mitigation first.
Thereafter we need to find time to design the future, and that needs drastic rethinking. You can’t do that in isolation. At InTWO, we believe that long term partnerships are the right way to go to create value and change our ways of working sustainably. Right now we’re reaching out to clients to find ways to help them weather the current storm short term, and then look at the longer term impact.
After all, we’re all in this together – and we want to come out of this together. If nothing else, this period has shown how technology can be a great enabler for change. It’s part of the fabric of everyday life, which will continue to be the case long after the lockdown.