At the end of 2019, we were already in the middle of a fourth industrial revolution around machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics when the global COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. More or less overnight, people around the world began working and using applications from home in greater numbers than we’ve ever seen before. And while IT teams have always had disaster plans for capacity increases in a limited region, or losing an application, or a geo-location, it’s safe to say that we’ve never had a reason to plan for the kind of increased demand for digital that we’re seeing today.
So, how do businesses manage capacity and performance while also ensuring a seamless end user experience? And, for companies that were used to streetfront and online revenue, how do they adjust — seemingly overnight — to functioning as an online-only business?
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With more questions than answers, it’s clear that the digital transformation didn’t stumble or pause as a result of this global health crisis — in fact, it has accelerated. Which begs the question: How do we prioritize the right business and IT activities during such unprecedented times?
First, we must take action by acknowledging three critical realities:
- Turbulence provides opportunities for innovation. In fact, Boston Consulting Group points out that during times of recession or economic downturns, “14% of companies outperform both historically and competitively because they invest in new growth areas.” But making the most of this opportunity means taking a customer-first approach, and not adhering to old strategies and visions for the future. Find the solutions that allow you to respond nimbly and proactively to new challenges, and invest in them accordingly.
- Your two-year plan is now a three-month sprint. It’s frustrating to have a carefully considered two-year company strategy get upended by unprecedented events, but the more time you spend fixated on the past, the less time you have to get going on the challenges that confront you today. Put your long-term vision on the back-burner and focus on present-day challenges. Get boots on the ground tackling your most pressing issues in two-week sprints. Not only will this allow you to move faster, but if you’re spending time on the wrong problem, you can easily pivot if you’re not seeing results right away.
- Empower your people to adapt. If the current climate has you moving away from one area of your business to another, you might feel over-invested with resources in one part of the business. This is where you can get creative about reallocating resources to accelerate your new trajectory, but do communicate this to your team so they understand the changes. Encourage them to identify new ways of stepping up to solve the needs of the business today, even if it falls outside the scope of their original job description. Even though some may find this disconcerting initially, your team undoubtedly understands that we’re dealing with a new kind of normal.
Develop a detailed approach to managing IT and your business
There will be no shortage of challenges for IT and business leaders in the months ahead. And while acknowledging these three new realities is a good start, teams will need much more support in terms of the application experience to reap the benefits from a business perspective. Finding the tools and solutions that enable you to get closer to your users is just the beginning of getting ahead of this curve. In addition, companies need to get access to data that helps them make decisions proactively to help safeguard their business against today’s challenges while preparing them for the road ahead.
Want to learn more about driving digital transformation during turbulent times?
In a recent webinar, I shared how you can build the right approach to hitting fast-forward on digital transformation. Watch on-demand here.