How IT leaders became key players in the COVID crisis

  • Posted on September 21, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
How IT leaders became key players in the COVID crisis

During the pandemic, your IT team ­– whether in-house or outsourced – has really shown their worth. Without their skills, knowledge, and dedication, your organisation would have ground to a halt.

Is remote working even remotely working? 
It is – technology has made it possible. How would we have coped just 20 years ago without video calling, fast internet or easy remote file access? The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones expressed it succinctly: “The lockdown is doing immense damage to the economy – but think how much worse it could have been.”

Of course, not every IT leader has been able to keep their organisations’ systems and infrastructure running smoothly during the pandemic. Those who did achieved it by successfully blending security and ease of use, striking a balance between potential risk and business continuity. It’s not an easy task.

As a tech company with tens of thousands of employees working in many different locations, our own remote working systems were mature, but we still had to make some urgent adjustments. Many organisations were starting from position zero, needing to rethink their infrastructure and set up new technology almost overnight (in some cases, literally overnight) in order to keep their businesses up and running. 

Respond, reset, renew
As your organisation responds, resets and renews following lockdown, you’ll discover powerful tech, like Microsoft Teams, ready to use in just a couple of days. Understandably, we saw a huge uplift in interest in Teams integrations during lockdown. Teams’ popularity continues to surge, having overtaken rival platform Slack. On 31st March it set a new record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day.

And we all know why: remote working is still the default for most office workers across UK and Europe, and will be for some time to come. 

As we all know, the use of video conferencing tools skyrocketed during the pandemic. You’ve probably got your own favourite platform – but it seems not all video conferencing tools were created equal. In some notable cases, security features in major apps were shown to be far from ideal.

In contrast, Microsoft Teams enforces team-wide and organisation-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and full encryption. 

Helping governments fight COVID-19
Technology has also been helping governments tackle the medical impact of Covid – and not just talking about track and trace apps and the COVID-19 test booking system. In the UK, the state healthcare provider – the world-renowned NHS – used Avanade and Accenture’s services to help its employees assess patients remotely and reduce the risk of exposure during the Covid crisis. We rolled out Microsoft Teams to 1.2 million users in just six days.
Business continuity
Planning for disasters can be a costly affair. Centrica’s energy trading team currently pays around £80 million for two separate backup offices – just in case their primary office is rendered unusable. But now, with their hand forced by the pandemic, Centrica have seen how easy it is for their people to work from home with almost zero disruption. 

Household names like Facebook, Twitter, Peugeot/Citroën and Shopify are rethinking their work policies, offering employees freedom from the traditional office-based nine-to-five. The PSA Group, the car making giant that owns Peugeot, Citroën, DS and others, has plans to reduce its office footprint, letting more of its employees work from home indefinitely. 

Cloud and proud 
The crisis offered a timely reminder of the virtues of cloud computing. Accelerating your move to the cloud will improve your business agility and help bring you bang up to date, reducing your technology debt. If COVID-19 has taught the business world anything, it’s that decentralised cloud services help organisations stay in business. 

We’ve seen some organisations try to resist the shift to cloud, and the results aren’t pretty. One such organisation dealt with lockdown by routing all of its traffic through on-prem servers, meaning home working employees had to wait their turn to access emails and files. Not ideal. 

As you look to the future, keep moving forward
What about life in a post-lockdown world? There is a clear opportunity for organisations everywhere to rethink their approach to IT and technology. Your business transformation programmes can be expedited, bringing greater efficiencies even sooner than planned. Those big legacy apps you thought you couldn’t shake? Or the ancient on-prem servers you want rid of? 

Now’s the time to respond, reset and renew. Take a look at our Workplace Experience hub to help your business get the most out of remote working, now and in the future.

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