The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for change on a scale that is usually only seen if a country is involved in a major armed conflict. It has affected how society behaves. It has changed economic habits. It has forced people to reassess their personal beliefs. The corporate world has needed to adapt faster than it typically does.
As with any rapid change, the rush to adapt to COVID-19 has created some uncertainty about the future. One thing that is clear is that any plans for the future must include digital transformation. Businesses that have endured were those that were already taking steps to adapt to new technologies. Small to medium-sized businesses that were not ready for change were forced to close their doors.
Organizations that had already adapted to e-commerce, cloud computing, online accounting software, and software to track time and productivity of remote workers have fared better than those that did not. This does not mean that they have come out unscathed. In fact, if anything, these past few months have clarified that businesses need to put more emphasis on the digital aspects of their organization.
Unfortunately, there is a challenge. Digital led business recovery strategies are only as strong as the skills of the individuals who implement them.
Leaders must take steps to accelerate digitization
Leaders in most organizations understand the benefit migrating to the cloud has played in a post COVID-19 world. However, leaders need to do more than simply tell the organization that they lead to adapt cloud computing. They need to be leaders in making these changes.
Maybe those in management have not taken an active role in cloud migration. The role of CIOs and CTOs have taken on greater importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the ones who need to push their team further in accelerating the organization’s digital strategy. Digitization will affect channels of distribution, will impact the supply chains, and will affect other important aspects of the business that need to be moving faster than they are right now.
The CEO plays an invaluable role because they can serve as a mediator among all the parties involved in the migration process. Transitioning to the cloud requires a collective action plan. It requires efforts that must be coordinated across various teams at the upper echelons of an organization. In order for this migration to happen rapidly and effectively, the CEO must function as the conductor who orchestrates the work getting done.
A CEO may need to talk with their CIO and CTO and lay out what they need to do in order to support the organization as it makes this change. Their help will be essential in getting the funding necessary to support the initial investment needed to get a business on the cloud and then to help the business reap financial benefits from this migration.
Business technology operating models will need to be changed so that they can take advantage of the speed, stability, scalability, and agility that cloud technology provides. Finally, the HR department plays a role in finding qualified engineering talent to keep the organization functioning smoothly as this transition takes place.
It requires leadership for a team to congeal around a single vision focused on taking advantage of the value that cloud computing offers, especially now because of COVID-19. Without leadership and a single focus, an organization may respond too slowly in migrating to cloud computing and they may lose customers to other organizations that took decisive action.
Digital recovery depends on agility
In many organizations, leadership means stability. Leadership means making calculated moves while not doing anything so drastic that it would shake up the status quo. COVID-19 has made it clear that if businesses are going to survive, they need to be agile. This agility needs to be seen first in IT.
Leadership must encourage the IT department to become more agile. This means migrating development teams to product models that are more agile. Security infrastructure and security teams have to stop being reactive by following a ticket driven operation and adopt proactive models where scrum teams create application program interfaces that can be consumed by service businesses and developers.
Finding the right talent
The more money an organization invests in cloud technology and the more robust their cloud ready operating model becomes, the greater the need will be for talent familiar with operating in the cloud.
Digitization and cloud computing do not of their own accord boost productivity. It increases productivity when these technologies are used by individuals who have specialized technical talent. We are talking about cloud service engineers, data engineers, full stack developers, and identity and access management specialists.
There is a lack of talent in this area. There are even fewer individuals who have the needed talent and also have the qualities required to lead IT departments and organizations.
This does not mean that it is a lost cause. Talent can be hired externally, and current employees can receive training. To successfully find the right talent, an organization will need to coordinate with its HR department to make sure that HR policies and HR approaches do not hinder finding the right talent.
Hiring technology leaders is one thing. Holding on to technology leaders is a different beast entirely. To accomplish this goal, CEOs and those in upper management must make sure that the technology leaders are heard. This is especially true in senior forums when discussing management processes.
In many organizations, it has been the CIOs and CTOs who have stepped up to lead the organization’s COVID-19 response. They have been overseeing the pivot from on premise work to working from home. They have been able to accomplish this task in a matter of days and with minimal disruption.
Adapting to cloud technology makes it easier for CTOs and CIOs to play a vital role in making critical business decisions and making these decisions successful. This forward thinking will continue to be needed. People often speak about the new normal. However, digital led business recovery strategies are not focused on the new normal. They are focused on the next normal. The goal is to help organizations weather the storm now and come out better prepared to face the future with confidence.