Consolidate and Optimize Your IT Environment: How to Futureproof Your Business for a Post-Pandemic World  

The coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on how businesses operate. Companies around the globe were forced to implement transformation projects in a matter of weeks—projects that would normally take months, even years.

In advance of the lockdown, businesses quickly scaled up remote work and collaboration tools, strengthened cybersecurity capabilities and network infrastructure, and equipped a distributed workforce with devices to maintain some form of “business as usual.” 

It’s no surprise, then, that compromises were made. Gaps were haphazardly filled in many IT environments to provide at least some semblance of effective service delivery and futureproofing took a backseat to surviving in the here and now.

As restrictions ease and business leaders begin planning an eventual return to work, they’re looking at how technology can help facilitate a shift back to the office. They’re also considering IT optimizations to ensure that the emergency measures adopted at the beginning of the lockdown remain robust and adaptable for the future.

No cutting corners with digital transformation

That means that IT departments now need to reflect and take stock of their IT estates and ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are the emergency solutions that were implemented just a few months ago performing as efficiently as needed in a post-lockdown world?
  • Is my IT environment as secure, robust, and resilient as needed to withstand the inevitable next business disruption?
  • How do we better support the front end of the business to ensure that our customers can still trade with us, whatever the future holds?

To deliver the right business outcomes, it’s crucial that secure connectivity, collaboration, and adaptable IT environments feature prominently in any forward-looking organization’s technology plan. These technology investments must be scalable, reliable, and managed effectively—and any initial issues resolved—all while continuing to align with industry best practices, security standards, and compliance frameworks.

Going forward: What’s next for IT teams

The remote working model has positively impacted many companies, often resulting in lower costs and increased employee productivity. No doubt many businesses will be planning for a more permanent flexible working environment. In fact, according to a recent survey by PwC, 54 percent of CFOs plan to make remote work a permanent option.

As remote work and remote services take hold, IT teams must now focus on refining and optimizing cloud, security, and collaboration strategies—along with the network—to accommodate flexible work alternatives and meet the needs of your customers.

The public cloud will be a beacon for the agility and responsiveness it provides in all times, not only in a crisis. Any previous doubts about public cloud must be weighed against the value of continuous business operations.

Hybrid cloud options give organizations the fluidity to better support a remote workforce, with on-demand access to data that isn’t tied to a central location. A cloud-based infrastructure offers scalability, flexibility, and efficiency as the adaptability of cloud solutions allow minimal downtime or interruption under exceptional circumstances.

In addition, a holistic security strategy from the core to the edge is critical. Look honestly at your security posture and refresh it, if needed. Many organizations will find that trying to manage their own security may not be the best use of time and resources. This may be a welcome opportunity to seek out a third-party security partner who can help you strategically manage security at scale.

Finally, revisit your voice and collaboration tools. Are they meeting your business needs and keeping employees connected during this vital time? If not, consider replacing or refreshing them with solutions that can scale on demand while still meeting your business needs.

An example of IT optimization: Telehealth

While most healthcare providers used telehealth prior to the pandemic, most telehealth solutions were not designed to operate at scale. Consider this: telehealth claim lines grew by 8,335 percent from April 2019 to April 2020, according to FAIR Health.

As a result, many healthcare providers are now seeking to optimize their telehealth solutions to run at scale—or they’re considering a completely new and scalable solution that better meets their needs.

In addition, some telehealth solutions are limited in their ability to provide doctors with immediate clinical information or process routine paperwork and deliver a seamless patient experience. IT leaders will move to optimize the available technologies to enable a superior customer experience.

Looking to transformation

Even though the pandemic took us by surprise, many business leaders have seen firsthand the possibilities presented by digital transformation through technology and business process transformation.

Those organizations that will thrive will have balanced their short-term needs with longer-term planning considerations—and will be building the resilience their organization needs now.

Jon Groves is CEO of Logicalis US.