Since the beginning of May, 62% of businesses in the UK have reported a decrease in turnover outside of the normal range.1 As the global pandemic impacts businesses agnostic of size or age, affected organisations must find new strategies to keep businesses running. One major challenge is maintaining short-term response alongside mid-term strategies for the future. As the world goes virtual, infrastructure needs to be optimised, remote working delivered and data volumes supported.
Nimbus Ninety members gathered for a virtual breakfast to discuss the challenges of repositioning for a new future and the imperatives for short-term response.
DELIVERING IN THE “NEW NORMAL”
For many businesses, continuing to deliver the business critical products and services (both internally and externally) is a huge challenge at the moment. With entire nations working from home, IT departments are under huge pressure, not just to enable remote working, but also to ensure that employees are connected and working safely and securely.
However, enabling remote working doesn’t stop at making sure that every employee has a laptop and internet connection at home. Equinix’s Michael Winterson talked us through the strains that this puts on organisational infrastructure, on bandwidth, on data access. Many of these challenges can be helped through interconnectivity. With more and more organisations realising that they need multi-cloud to support the vast volumes of data, interconnectivity becomes necessary to optimise networks and deploy cloud-based services while everyone is working from home.
As Hanna Tyrrell, IT Delivery & Operations at Shell, highlighted it’s crucial to “know your capacity and know your capability”. For her, responding to the crisis was a matter of acting fast without compromise and ensuring that the infrastructure in place could support what was to come. She explained how increasing bandwidth was immediately critical as a first step for internal platforms to cope.
THE PEOPLE PIECE
Businesses now are asking themselves, what and who is business critical in this new reality? Hanna suggested two follow-on questions from that: what does “business critical” mean now? And what is this “new reality”?
The “new normal” is a phrase that has become very familiar, but as Hanna highlighted, the key thing to remember is that every person’s “new normal” is different. For her, the people piece really stands out as something of huge importance during this time. Continuity and business-as-usual relies on the people behind the technology; they are the most important asset to the business and understanding people’s personal circumstances, in addition to their home working environment, is crucial.
Hanna left us with the message that the next 6 months will be a critical time to review processes with the strict rule that only processes that add value should be kept. Restructuring and restrategising will also be crucial as businesses move from the lockdown present to an uncertain future.
REPOSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE
Members broke into four groups to address some key areas: data innovation, service delivery, digital experience delivery and re-prioritising transformation objectives.
How data is used was a key area of conversation: with more and more people paying attention to data, questions are being asked that haven’t been asked before but at the same time the predictive models we have now are probably inaccurate. Governance of data can also be a barrier to innovation, with access being difficult from home. Resilience in data centres and connectivity has always been important for businesses, but doing it from home has never been an issue before; now it is a huge area for focus.
Another point of interest was agility and a new ability to execute and implement projects, that would normally take months, in a matter of weeks. Reprioritising transformation objectives across the board is a necessary ingredient in short-term response, and many organisations have seen an exponential increase in productivity as urgency to deliver drives projects forward.
The human element of remote access and working was also touched on, with members noting that they often don’t check in with their outsourced teams in the same way that they do with their employees. Connecting with people and communication across the organisation at this time is important for wellbeing as well as productivity. Finally, the first hurdle of internal service delivery was considered to be getting people digitally engaged: with plenty of digitally reluctant employees, the moment has forced those to become engaged through necessity.
As Hanna articulated, “change is the only constant”. What is important now is responding to this constant that defines the “new reality”: ultimately, repositioning for the future is about reacting to the now.
1. ONS, 4 June 2020. 'Coronavirus and the economic impacts on the UK'. Accessed at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/businessservices/bulletins/coronavirusandtheeconomicimpactsontheuk/4june2020#impact-of-turnover-for-businesses-financial-performance
This event held was in partnership with Equinix, a cloud and infrastructure solutions provider.