The coronavirus has accelerated many of the ways we thought the new ways of work would come into focus. We’ve, in a very short period, had to adapt to a nearly universal mandate of working from home (outside of essential work), in which IT has led the charge for enabling entire workforces to do so efficiently. This has highlighted the need for both company leadership and IT executives to collaborate on the most efficient solutions.
Shared workspace provider IWG reports that 74% of U.S. workers believe flexible working has become the new normal. While this shows that a proclivity toward remote work isn’t new, it also acknowledges that organizations may not be fully prepared to transition to a sole remote environment.
To do this, there are many technical considerations that must be addressed. Karl Mosgofian, CIO at Gainsight, a Bay Area-based CS platform, discussed this in detail in a recent webinar called Confessions of a CIO. In it, he said IT executives must examine what technologies their teams need to work remotely, what accounts to provision, and which of their previous resources/tools are necessary versus unnecessary (in terms of cost cutting). In addition to this, there’s a foundational lens to consider, as leaders have to determine how to facilitate and protect what matters (people, data and critical ops) in the long run or for at least an extended period.
The Transition From Traditional IT
This remote work era has ushered in a non-traditional role of IT. Traditionally, IT would train and configure accounts, but now, Mosgofian says, IT departments are having to consider a more human approach. Especially when it comes to the best-of-breed/SaaS-first model, IT departments are straying away from their traditional roles to becoming more strategic. IT is the only function that can oversee application work in an organization and act as a guidel for other departments.
Are These Trends Here to Stay?
This “new normal” further validates the enterprise tech trends that were already in motion: cloud, SaaS, and remote work. Organizations were already utilizing these tools, but they are now even more vital to workflows because they are the sole means of the way people work. While the transition to a universal remote work environment won’t be easy, it can have lasting benefits.
Aligning Your Tech, People and Vision
Alignment in your organization is extremely important at this stage. Your organization can adjust the goals and expectations of workflows, tools and functions due to the changing work environment in a way that empowers everyone. In addition, your organization needs to align the technologies at their disposal with how they’re being used and what they need to integrate with to perform processes well.
The Human Side of Technology
It’s more than a matter of which tools your teams are using – it’s about how the tools are configured and their ease of use for your team. It’s crucial now to stay cognizant of your team’s attitude toward technology, Mosgofian says. With the hyper-specialization of SaaS tools by business function, finding the right fit will not only help your team be more productive but also potentially help them enjoy their work and become less frustrated doing it.
For example, when it comes to choosing a collaboration tool – which is very important for getting work done at this stage – the focus should be on your team’s ability to collaborate with each other and the multiple ways and ease of use in which they can do it – not just selecting a tool because you need one. As leaders in your organization, you need to foster strong and open communication. This is a huge transition for everyone, so make sure you have an ear to feedback and how certain tool choices affect them.
Taking Stock of Your Technology
At an organizational level, you’ll want to ensure your teams have the right tools to succeed. You can mitigate the number of bottlenecks your team has by provisioning appropriate tools and tech and granting verified user access.
Assessing your current tools will be an essential first step to doing this. Your IT or Business Technology team will have to determine different options for tools that were previously used. When addressing this, IT leaders should ask themselves three questions:
- Is your integration tool in the cloud?
- Are all of your apps in the cloud?
- Do you have any on-prem systems or workloads that need to move to the cloud?
They can then make decisions about swapping tools and/or finding an appropriate integration and automation platform that can sync between them.
Scaling Your Technology
As your company establishes new methodologies, it’s important to keep the ability to scale in mind. If you don’t already have an integration and automation tool that enables transformation at scale between a lot of these systems, you should invest in one that will fit your needs beyond this work from home era. A scalable platform can serve as a single source of truth and offer a space to share ideas and documentation, track data, enable synchronization for reporting and data analysis purposes, and communicate in real time.
Mosgofian himself recently switched to a low-code integration and automation tool at Gainsight. As part of his role, he oversees an applications coordination team with representatives from functional departments to jointly address their systems, apps and associated challenges with input from admins and end users. He believes that by collaborating, these teams can leverage common tools and forge long-term plans for success, especially in a remote work environment. Now, people can perform their own integrations with IT governance and avoid duplicate work, while IT can focus on more value-added tasks. This sort of tool can also be expanded into different business groups, all working from the cloud and effectively at scale, enabling a productive environment.
While we are living through a tough situation, we can learn valuable lessons from the shift in how we work. The growing pains of moving toward a remote environment can reveal the cracks within your operational efficiency. This pandemic has forced us to quickly confront gaps in technology and processes in a people-centric way. In the future, if circumstances call for us to return to remote work, CIOs will be prepared by determining the necessary scalable technologies and implementing a strategy that caters to the needs of the individual.