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Coronavirus and IT: Implications of the Newly Distributed Workforce (Resource Center)

Nov 3, 2020 4:20:36 PM / by Alvaro Prieto Alvaro Prieto

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IT Organizations running operations in a distributed workforce model during the pandemic IT organizations must accelerate their efforts to become more scalable, agile, proactive and forward-thinking in order to adequately support the distributed workforce at scale. They need to consider a variety of factors, but for simplification purposes I’ve grouped these factors into three primary categories: Improved Operating Model, Accessible Technology and a new IT resource Mindset. Let’s discuss each in more detail:

Improved Operating Model

Operating at scale demands adjustments, if not significant changes, to the IT model. CIOs must respond to this demand by expanding IT resources from a single, back-office department, into a more holistic, process-driven and measurable approach. Strong governance and clear performance requirements need to be implemented across the entire organization. If not, companies could face the dreaded Shadow IT problem - a disorganized and decentralized mess that is arduous to manage and difficult to scale.

The ‘new normal’ increases the demand for IT support with higher expectations for faster response and supportability particularly for home computing environments and related technologies. IT organizations must improve the supporting processes, find more efficient and effective ways to deliver higher levels of support by combining process automation and remote management technologies among others.

Executive leaders are no longer simply bracing for change. Instead, they are building their organizations to make agility and creativity part of the organizational DNA. This requires improved project management and execution while considering culture changes like implementing Agile principles and DevOps to improve service delivery, quality and speed. Agile teams work on projects, often in sprints, maintaining constant communication with business users throughout the process. They program on-demand cloud services to meet new enterprise needs as they appear. And they explore ways to deliver products and services in increments – creating the minimum viable product – which saves time, money and resources. According to the PMI Institute Pulse of the Profession 2020 report, 11.4% of investments is wasted due to poor project performance.

The ‘new normal’ will require organizations of all sizes to implement business and technology changes at a much rapid pace than ever before while keeping the organization running efficiently. Transforming the culture to apply Agile principles across all change initiatives and operations will significantly increase the chances for success while reducing waste and increasing business agility and scalability.

“Transforming the culture to apply Agile principles across all change initiatives and operations will significantly increase the chances for success while reducing waste and increasing business agility and scalability.”

Accessible Technology

The right technology stack enables an organization to effectively deliver remote services at scale. At the core, a robust and secure network infrastructure that offers full redundancy and scalability is required. Enterprise Networking technologies like SD-WAN, MPLS, LTE, and soon to be 5G Wireless Edge Solutions, are all excellent options. Without a solid networking infrastructure, organizations run the risk of not being able to offer enough capacity and connectivity options for their remote users and enterprise locations.

Every organization, regardless of size, should have at minimum the ability to access its applications from anywhere. With a ‘Digital Workspace’, users can easily access any of the enterprise applications from any device using wired or wireless connections and secure channels, such as VPN or vendor-specific software clients. As a basic component, the Digital Workspace should run on a virtualized Operating System with all the appropriate and applicable enterprise security protocols and applications.

Technologies like IBM/VMWare VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), Citrix Workspace, AWS Workspaces and Microsoft RDS (Remote Desktop Service), among others, enable authorized users to access their desktop remotely and securely from anywhere at any time, and from any device. A VDI infrastructure provides organizations with the ability to scale, supporting unexpected and large increases of users.

In addition to using VDI, an organization may focus on cloud-enabled applications. To effectively operate at scale, organizations must make every business application remotely accessible. Like VDI technologies, application virtualization technologies such as Citrix Virtual Apps, VMWare ThinApp and Microsoft App-V provide an excellent starting point for achieving separation from the hardware while offering ease of access, security and scalability.

Invitation to read the article titled: Rethinking Corporate IT in a Post Shutdown World

Application virtualization typically works well for most organizations but moving business apps to a SaaS (Software as a Service) model could be another option. Many, if not all, software vendors are offering applications in this format. Using ‘local’ applications may very soon be something of the past. If using SaaS based applications is not feasible, due to heavy customizations or organization specific functionality, application refactoring can also be considered. This approach uses cloud native technologies to run applications while building modern applications with high scalability in mind.

This pandemic has confirmed that a physical office in ‘cubeville’ really isn’t a necessity for getting work done. Over the last few months, teams have been able to connect, chat, share documents, assign tasks and conduct meetings all from the comfort of their couch. Collaboration technologies such as MS-Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts and Zoom allow users to work together seamlessly with options to create team workspaces and enable workflows. These productivity applications emphasize and enable teamwork at scale and are unarguable essential to work at remotely and at scale.

Representation of a robust network infrastructure that could help bear the impact of the pandemic on IT Operations

A new Mindset

Operating at scale does not work well without the right people. A new operating model requires an immediate change in IT resources, an adjustment in mindset of the entire IT team, and strong leadership to push the organization in the right direction. Automation, performance analytics, and agile implementation methods need to be implemented, but making these shifts is not easy.

Leveraging outsourced solutions as an extension of your team can be an excellent way to speed up the transformation, and quickly deliver process maturity and scalable technology resources.

Some organizations find that turning to an outside vendor for assistance is the most effective way to quickly transform their operating model and weather the challenges of a distributed workforce. In a world powered by cloud services and IoT, many enterprise organizations are already reaping the IT outsourcing benefits such as reduced costs, and rapid access to solution-based services, trained talent and highly scalable technologies and supporting models.

While the outcome of this pandemic remains to be seen, it’s clear that organizations of all sizes are faced with the immediate task of bringing their IT operating model to scale. They must understand how to enable hyper-collaboration for the enterprise and its business partners, drive constant migration of business applications to the cloud securely, and train their IT organization to become more process, performance and automation driven than ever before.

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Alvaro Prieto

Written by

Alvaro Prieto

Alvaro is one of Auxis’ founders and leads our IT Services Practice, including both Infrastructure Transformation and Application Integration & Development. He brings over 25 years of technology and business experience, helping CIOs across multiple industries achieve Peak Performance in their IT operations through the design and implementation of agile operating models, processes and technologies. Some of his specialties include IT Service Management (Service Catalogs, ITIL, SLAs, Financial Management), Cloud and Data Center Transformation, large Software Implementations, among many others.

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