Lockdown has proved to be the ultimate test for businesses’ IT strategies. Overnight there was a huge global drive for organisations’ workforces to work from anywhere, which meant they inevitably turned to cloud-based services.
Where reliance on the local network delivering applications and data was core to some businesses’ IT models, it became an immediate challenge to overcome. Local machines reliant on LAN connected data centres for critical applications created further problems.
Then there were the more traditional forms of voice communications, with some businesses, believe it or not, still heavily reliant on physical handsets to deliver voice for client and internal communications.
We saw entire call centres using handsets connected to on site PBXs. Not to mention the fact that these local PBXs were in many cases connected physically to ISDN circuits with DDI numbers hard routed into the site.
Then practically overnight IT, Network and Infrastructure Managers were tasked with mobilising all users for homeworking access to all of the usual forms of voice, applications and data.
The businesses best equipped to glide straight into this new lockdown IT model were the ones who were further along the so-called journey to the cloud.
Some were only beginning to look at how they could use the cloud effectively given their industry constraints. Others had already embraced the cloud model so their users could seamlessly access all business systems, data and applications from anywhere.
Now on to the vast majority. The overwhelming majority of businesses have started on their cloud adoption journey, taking their first few steps with Microsoft Office 365 or Google Cloud. Many already have cloud services providing disaster recovery or a web-facing application or two in AWS or Azure.
For these businesses, there is still work to be done to enable users to work productively, as well as provide customers with more digital services. Below I discuss some of the challenges ahead for such businesses.
1. User experience and mobility vs security and governance
Businesses must make the leap to improve user experience and allow mobile working. A leap which doesn’t compromise data governance or security, which enables them to deliver applications and data in the most cost efficient and secure way.
2. Devising the right strategy
The trouble is there is literally no such thing as one platform or strategy. Businesses have lots of variance in their IT estate and have different considerations depending on age of applications, unstructured data and industry governance. These are just a few hurdles, but the biggest hurdle of all is having a multi-platform and technology strategy, and being able to cut through all of the industry hyperbole. It’s about making key decisions based on experience, which ensures you get things right first time around.
3. Making time for planning and implementation
Planning and implementing is the next challenge, given that most businesses’ IT teams are already stretched. Finding the time to plan and execute is very difficult.
4. Managing hybrid IT
Even if you have a strategy, know how to navigate your way through the different IT vendor options and then implement your strategy to meet all business needs, your work doesn’t stop there. You then have to manage all of this hybrid IT, working with platforms which you may not have any experience of previously.
How to overcome the challenges
The key is having trusted partners. Partners who have experience of planning, implementing and managing complex IT projects, and can guide you down this journey with the least risk possible.
Any journey is so much easier with a guide who can advise you on where to start and finish, where to go and how to navigate the way. IT transformation journeys are no different.
And if you haven’t considered IT transformation, beyond a quick fix to adapt to Covid-19, it’s time to take notice. Who knows what other global challenges will come our way but one thing is for sure. Next time no business will have an excuse - the technology is there, you just need to plan how you can best embrace it for your business.