At a recent design and manufacturing conference, a question came up. “Is the industry ready to make use of new technologies?” The answer came back, a resounding no. Most companies have skipped the step of digitizing their existing processes, so they’re not ready for new digital inputs. Perhaps an excellent intermediary step would be to reimagine business as usual by partnering with a managed service provider (MSP).
Shifting to a managed services environment is a critical step for many businesses. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with wondering about your next best business decision, then you’re not alone.
Many companies haven’t figured out how to change themselves enough to grapple with legacy challenges, let alone how to solve new, more complex puzzles like digitizing operations. By having an MSP like IronOrbit, companies can take their time becoming more comfortable with the idea of digitizing. When companies are ready to digitize, they won’t need to do major surgery on their IT infrastructure or data architecture before they begin. Instead, they’ll have a reliable partner who can focus on providing the right technology at the right time.
The Growing Skills Gap
In January 2021, a McKinsey study found that 87% of companies worldwideare aware of a skills gap. Gaps in IT departments will become increasingly conspicuous as emerging technologies continue to get a foothold. In the digital age, companies need to move fast. Ongoing IT education is prohibitive for many organizations. Even if the financial resources are available, the process is too slow. There is a genuine need for businesses to move faster than before. Whatever they can do to enable their operations to be more transformative and innovative with their use of technology, the better off they’ll be for whatever happens next.
As soon as an IT, enterprise resource planning (ERP), or e-commerce business solution is down; an organization instantly loses profits. Efficiency and expertise are necessary for getting these solutions back up and running. Bracing for the storm of increasing demand and decreasing labor power, business leaders may feel stuck when making their next move. If this is the case, managed services could be a solution. Here are the factors to consider.
Bridge the Skills Gap
A recent Prudential survey reports that businesses that focus on continuously expanding employee skills have a tremendous advantage over those companies that don’t. When critical business technology goes down, companies can’t wait for internal IT teams to figure it out. Having a managed services partner like IronOrbit can efficiently solve the issue; moreover, a predictive analysis might prevent such disruptions in the first place.
Your Perfect IT Partner: Five Things
When considering a managed services partner to fit your business, there are five key characteristics to consider:
Cost Savings – With IronOrbit’s managed services expertise and ability to efficiently solve IT challenges, you’ll notice significant cost savings by filling the skills gap and preventing extended downtime, lag issues, and recurring IT problems.
An Increase in Productivity & Efficiency– Supporting your business and employees is IronOrbit’s reason for being. IronOrbit’s Managed Services free your internal IT, so they can focus on other priorities and increase your business’s efficiency.
Quick Response Times – IronOrbit’s support staff is available when you need them so you can increase efficiency. IOCentral’s self-help automation tools make it fast and easy to open support tickets and check status around the clock, three hundred and twenty-five days a year. IronOrbit guarantees a consistent and reliable communication line to address urgent issues efficiently. Access to IronOrbit Resources and Specialized Expertise. IronOrbit service providers are certified professionals who have the expertise your business needs.
An Extension of Your IT Department – With IronOrbit’s Managed Services, you’re not just getting a solid and secure IT infrastructure; you’re getting a partner who can liaise between your IT department and your ERP and e-commerce providers for the most effective solutions. Your team will have more time to spend on furthering business-critical activities than solving IT problems.
Finding What Works for Your Business – IronOrbit has the expertise and innovative technology to best support you and your team regardless of the business needs. IronOrbit’s Smart Managed Services enables you and your teams to step away from any IT needs to focus on critical strategies for sustainable business growth. You’ll have more bandwidth to experiment and figure things out. Plus, you’ll have a technology partner ready to provide options for any challenge that may appear on the horizon. Companies face innumerable disruptive threats and risks. IronOrbit’s Smart Managed Services ensure smooth sailing for your IT environment now and in the future. We’ll be there whenever you’re ready to do more of anything, including digitize operations.
Please call us now at 888-753-5060 for a free no-obligation consultation.
Scalability has always been an essential characteristic for companies to develop. Today, an organization’s capacity to scale quickly, effectively, and economically can mean the difference between winning new business or missing it altogether. At the rate business moves in 2022, the window of opportunity opens and closes quickly. Being prepared is essential.
An increase in scalability enables businesses to grow their capacity and capabilities effectively and with minimal disruption. The benefits of increased scalability extend beyond handling more business. The foundations required for modern scalability also deliver immense value in other areas, including:
· Enhanced & Improved Customer Experience
· Improved Resiliency
· Nimble Operations
· Highly Engaged & Motivated Employees
Scaling is complex and involves many moving parts ranging from building the right corporate culture to hiring high-performing talent, having the proper structure, and the financing to support it. Using the right technology is an essential ingredient, and that’s where this article will focus.
Everyone Benefits When People and Tech Work Together
Any discussion about technology and modern scalability involves leadership because leadership needs to communicate closely with internal IT and external technology partners. A technology engaged leadership is the only way an organization can prepare its people and culture to handle the growth. Improving scalability in the modern sense means a paradigm shift in how the company operates. The intention and drive to become a better company, to escalate its level of service to its customers, has got to be part of the equation, or attempt at scaling to any significant level will fly off the rails.
Complacent leadership or a culture of doing business-as-usual is one of the reasons companies procrastinate investing in upgrading their technology infrastructure. If current equipment is working, why mess with it?
Legacy Systems Are More Susceptible to Cyber Attacks
This kind of reliance on legacy equipment not only hobbles any attempts at scaling, old hardware, and outdated operating systems are a disaster waiting to happen. Legacy systems are a significant cybersecurity risk.
Our articleWHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SO IMPORTANT TO SUSTAINED SUCCESS (PART 1)? Explains the importance of having people with good communication skills leading technology, data, and processes. It would be best if you had good communicators knowledgeable about available technologies and how they can help. These consultants can help you rethink your operations from the top down. The right partner can also maintain and refresh technology roadmaps to ensure a consistent unified architecture (referred to as an “operational backbone” in the article mentioned above).
IronOrbit is the kind of partner who has the business operations experience and technical expertise to get your next-generation operating model started on solid footage..
Increasing scalability is a challenge for any company on multiple levels, but significant changes can become seamless with the right technology in place, at least from an IT perspective.
Talk to one of our consultants today. We can help get the conversation started and help you evaluate the best available options that are right for your business.
2022 will continue to see the digitization and virtualization of society and business. The need for sustainability, increasing data volumes, and computer network speeds will drive digital transformation as companies move from a survival strategy to one of thriving.
As promised by Moore’s Law several decades ago, technology advancements continue to accelerate, but the speed at which these accelerations are occurring far outpaced earlier projections. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report says, “Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another. More than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that at not yet considered crucial to the job today.”
When you think about what technologies might be game-changing for your company in 2022, you aren’t thinking about nanotechnology, quantum computing, or neural interfaces. As much as the tech giants may want to forecast a utopian future based on these technologies, what your company needs right now is technologies that will help you get more done with less, work from anywhere, and support your organizational objectives.
Let’s dive into some “right now” technologies that can be disruptive in a good way to your workflow and organization as a whole in 2022.
Digitization and Virtual Environments
The trend toward leveraging big data and the digitization of workflow within organizations makes virtual work environments possible. During the pandemic, everybody scrambled to set up home offices. The organizations that already had a virtual IT infrastructure had a much smoother transition. Employees just had to grab their computers from the office and take them home. Others had to work through it and make adjustments along the way. Most of those that didn’t transition went out of business.
It’s interesting to note that many business leaders are still grappling with the employee question of when (or if) they’ll be returning to an office environment. Sharyn Leaver writing for Forrester, predicts only 10% of companies will remain fully remote. Of the 60% planning to shift to some sort of hybrid model, one-third of those firms will fail in their first attempt at anywhere work.
New technologies are emerging in every area. Cloud computing continues to be at the forefront of every discussion because it is foundational to everything else. All IT services, applications, and cybersecurity protocols are delivered through the cloud.
Last October, at Gartner’s IT Symposium in Stamford, Connecticut, analysts reported that enterprises must move away from “lift and shift” migration and toward Cloud-Native Platforms (CNPs). The power of cloud computing provides scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities “as a service” to technology creators using internet technologies, delivering fast time to value and reduced costs. For this reason, Gartner predicts CNPs will serve as the foundation for more than 85% of new digital initiatives by 2025, up from less than 40% in 2021.
Aamer Baig writes in an article for McKinsey, “Most companies we know are well into their cloud journeys and understand notionally that the cloud offers a big opportunity. But many are struggling to capture the full value cloud offers. As in the adoption of any new technology, of course, hiccups are inevitable. But the fundamental issue is that companies are looking at the cloud as a source of IT productivity improvements rather than as a source of transformative value—which is more than $1 trillion, by our calculations.
Improvements in productivity and efficiency gains through cloud-migration programs can generate significant cost savings, but they essentially represent better ways of doing what IT already does. CIOs have a crucial role in getting the business to focus on the far bigger prize: the new businesses, innovative practices, and new sources of revenue that cloud either enables or accelerates.
One pharma company built its GxP-compliant IT environment on the cloud and uses an ecosystem of cloud services that connect with manufacturing instruments, robotics, and other systems. It has been using a combination of scaling, instance management, storage, workload processing, and data-warehousing services to accelerate vaccine development.
A large agriculture company put into the cloud the vast amounts of data it had accumulated on improving equipment maintenance and used advanced analytics to generate insights that became the basis for a new business offering to growers.
CIOs need to master cloud economics and target business areas that can benefit from the cloud’s advantages of speed, flexibility, and scale. As importantly, they need to consider how to make the large-scale changes to IT’s operating model that are needed to build the capabilities to generate new value. Fewer than 10 percent of technology leaders, however, say they are most focused on hiring cloud talent, placing it at the bottom of hiring priorities. That’s a red flag, especially considering that almost 50 percent of CIOs plan to migrate more than three-quarters of all workloads to the cloud in the next two years.”
AI will continue to improve and become ubiquitous in the year 2022. Even the most rudimentary of businesses are utilizing AI devices connected to nearly everything and using AI in:
Robotic Process Automation
Companies using AI devices accumulate tremendous amounts of customer data. This well of information just then needs to be categorized and analyzed for pro-growth decisions based on real-time data. 2022 will see a dramatic jump in the utilization of AI due to the higher speeds available through the widespread adoption of the 5G network.
Before rushing out to buy the latest and greatest in AI technology, it’s a good idea to do some research or delegate an IT innovation team to do some preliminary homework. Become familiar with the capabilities of the technology and ensure it aligns with the mid-range and long-term strategy of your organization.
In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article first published in 2018, Thomas Davenport and Rajeev Ronanki wrote about the importance of understanding which technologies perform what types of tasks, and the strengths and limitations of each. They write, “we encountered several organizations that wasted time and money pursuing the wrong technology for the job at hand.”
Since many organizations, even large enterprise companies, can lack the necessary in-house expertise to evaluate new and emerging technologies, it’s necessary for business leaders to work closely with IT to identify the right consultants to advise on high-priority projects.
Davenpot and Ronanki found that nearly a majority of cognitive technology projects had to do with robotics and automation. Business leaders have two schools of thought when it comes to automation. Some see automation as a way to eliminate full-time employees while others see it as a way to automate menial tasks in order to make better use of its people. Amazon for instance has been looking at ways for its people to devote more time to building new products. The Hands Off the Wheel program began in the retail management division to develop ways for machine learning to handle repetitive mundane work such as keeping its gigantic warehouses stocked with products to sell.
When companies make it clear that they are using AI to help people rather than replace them, they significantly outperform companies that don’t set that objective (HBR).
Alex Kantrowitz, author of ALWAYS DAY ONE: HOW THE TECH TITANS PLAN TO STAY ON TOP FOREVER (Portfolio, 2020), writes in an article for Harvard Business Review, that Amazon’s transition to Hands Off the Wheel took years to roll out and a great deal of training. “The retail-division employees were despondent at first, recognizing that their jobs were transforming. Yet in time, many saw the logic. ‘When we heard that ordering was going to be automated by algorithms, its like, ‘OK, what’s happening to my job?’”
According to Kantrowitz, Amazon didn’t implement this program to reduce headcount but rather free up personnel to invent and oversee new product development. Kantrowitz makes an essential point: “Had Amazon eliminated those jobs, it would have made its flagship business more profitable but would have missed the next new business opportunity.
Entrepreneurship and seizing opportunities through leverage are at the heart of Amazon’s raison d’être. At no other time in history has it been as easy, fast, and inexpensive to start a new business. Amazon’s view is that it is a facilitator of entrepreneurship, providing the investment, platform, and resources to help build new businesses.
Amazon first opened its online shelves to small businesses in 2000. In 2018, the company created an internal Small Business Empowerment team. In a press announcement, CEO Dave Clark said, “We made the decision to open our store’s virtual shelves to third-party sellers. At the time, big-box retailers had been pushing small businesses out of the retail market. We bet that bringing selling partners into our store would not only be a win for customers who want vast product selection, low prices, and fast delivery, but it would also be a win for small businesses wanting to reach more customers, increase revenue and profits, and create good jobs.”
The number of US sellers who surpassed $1 million in sales grew another 15%. Kantrowitz concludes, “If Amazon is any indication, businesses that reassign employees after automating their work will thrive.”
A recent Forrester study shows that technology leaders will focus on human-centered technology transformations. Indicating that less than 15% of firms nominated digital transformation as a priority in 2022, the report suggests leading firms will use emerging technology to unlock the creativity of their employees and drive innovation that focuses on outcomes, not just financial results.
The trend of “______ as a Service” technologies has exploded in the past few years. 2022 will see more of this trend – for several good reasons.
Subscription-based business technologies:
don’t force you to buy more than you are using
are easily scalable up or down
are flexible to match market fluctuations
can be deployed easily and quickly
Maybe the best part about subscription-based technologies is the zero-coding needed to utilize them. You don’t have to have an in-house IT team. These technologies come pre-built and can integrate easily with other technologies in use within your business. In addition, because the technologies are virtual (in a cloud environment), your business has less exposure to cyber risk and a higher level of business continuity readiness.
The more data that a company creates and gathers from the public, the greater their social responsibility becomes for the protection and use of that data. Whether your company needs to have transparency, governance, and accountability regarding data to protect your brand or you have legislative and industry-standard compliance mandates to adhere to, the technologies revolving around compliance are here to stay and will be growing throughout 2022. These new compliance technologies will help streamline your compliance efforts, minimizing the effort and money expended on compliance concerns.
Employee Wellness and Retention Technologies
The pandemic has brought a wave of resignations and shuffling of employees from one company to another. Business leaders are looking to technology to make employment at their organization more attractive to prospective – and current – employees. This desire to improve working conditions for employee retention has resulted in the utilization of many technologies. These advancements range from wearables that help employees monitor wellness for a work/life balance to new features built into ergonomic forms that reduce stress and improve employees’ workday in repetitive motion tasks.
Other considerations regarding employee wellness and retention technologies are tech that improves communication and collaboration on tasks and incorporates that “water cooler” chat function lost in the social distancing and work-from-home exodus of 2020.
By using tech to reincorporate that human connection into the virtual workplace, companies are helping to give their employees more of a sense of camaraderie and belonging – rather than isolation.
Your business, like many others, is reliant upon technology to maintain your competitive edge. It’s important to know what technologies other companies are leveraging – both within your industry and the broader marketplace. But knowing that other companies are having success with or planning on implementing game-changing tech within their organizations isn’t enough. Companies that take decisive action will face the fast-paced challenges of the next few years much better than those that are more cautious. Combine strategic planning with bold decision-making as you prioritize your technology objectives for the next 12 months. You must have a trusted IT partner to vet those technologies and advise you about their potential ROI within your particular business.
2022 is shaping up to be a year of both promise and uncertainty, but one thing is sure: companies that build a platform to embrace new tech within their workflow will have an advantage out of the starting gate.
While not the magic bullet that solves all your operational problems, moving to the cloud forms the foundation of building a solid technology platform.
Businesses that took the opportunity to remake and future-proof their infrastructure and workforce during the pandemic will continue to pull ahead of the competition. As we move into 2022, it becomes imperative for companies to move to the cloud to accomplish two strategies:
Be agile and flexibly prepared for the unexpected
To Take advantage of emerging AI-enabled digital technologies
These two objectives mean large-scale changes to IT’s operating model. The more technology-savvy people in the company should take the lead in understanding what moving to the cloud would mean for the company. Target specific business areas and look at how having workflows on the cloud benefits operations through increased speed, flexibility, and scale, which are the standard hallmarks of having operations in a cloud environment.
Speed, Flexibility, & Scalability
If you want to deliver digital capabilities anywhere and everywhere, consider how the IronOrbit ecosystem uses the core capabilities of cloud computing to provide scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities. Our teams of engineers and business visionaries have taken the complexity out of migrating your environment to the cloud, so you benefit from faster time to value and reduced costs.
The improvements in productivity and efficiency can generate significant cost savings over time; however, the actual benefit delivery is optimizing IT functions. You’ll be doing things you’ve always done, but you’ll be doing them better, and your operations will be much more resistant to disruptions.
Our new automated self-service portal, IOCentral, delivers a fast and easy way to scale storage, networks, databases, and computer functionality. An intuitive interface allows you to scale business functions more quickly by connecting essential software and microservices. Using AI-enabled technology, IOCentral enables flexibility and comprehensive ecosystem management from one pane of glass.
Speed, flexibility, scalability, and reduced costs indeed represent long-term value, but those in and of themselves do not convey the urgency for moving to the cloud. For that, we need to look further ahead.
The Bigger Business Benefit of Moving to the Cloud
Taking full advantage of your move to the cloud means looking at the new possibilities available to your business because now your business is part of the global cloud ecosystem. The cloud now becomes a catalyst to build new capabilities and value propositions for your customers.
This larger prize focuses on building innovative practices, new sources of revenue, and learning from the unique knowledge flows that will inspire leadership, not IT, to create new digital value propositions for your customers.
Without the cloud, leadership will never be able to enter the competitive arena of 2022 and beyond, let alone have the possibility to innovate new products and services.
The Cloud Delivers All IT Services, Apps, and More.
Be ready to use new digital technologies and stay ahead of change. Call now for a proof-of-concept of how IronOrbit can prepare your business for sustained success.
Future-proofing is the process of preparing for anticipated (and unanticipated) business disruptions. It has always been problematic but is now even more of a challenge.
In this article, we’ll explore the “why” and “how” of future-proofing your business and provide actionable steps to take.
The Future-Proof Challenge of Quickly Evolving Technologies
The rapid acceleration of technology has made future-proofing a business exponentially tricky.
Jimmy Rotella, Sr Solutions Architect at Nvidia, said in a recent episode of “What’s Up AEC?!” that 2020 accelerated a work-from-home movement that was inevitably going to happen in 5 to 10 years.
In an October 2021 Harvard Business Review article, authors Michael Mankins, Eric Garton, and Dan Schwartz write, “technology was already changing the nature of work before Covid-19 took hold. Innovations were redefining the basis of competition in most industries and, consequently, the talent companies need to win over the long term.”
Companies held on by their fingernails for economic survival. The article points out that the businesses that took the lead in the aftermath were the ones who seized the opportunity to remake their organizations and adapt to the new environment.
Disruptors in the Marketplace
Business leaders are worried about what’s going to happen to their companies moving forward. KPMG reports that 74% of CEOs are afraid of some new company disrupting their business model.
Companies look for indicators of possible future disruptions. Things could be going perfectly today, and the next thing you know, someone does it better than you, faster than you, and cheaper. Focus on solving specific problems for your customers. What will the market share be for a product or service in Q4 next year? How about the year after that? Part of this inquiry requires discovering where the weaknesses are in an organization. Spending more time on future-proofing an organization increases your chances of being more proactive instead of putting out fires as they happen.
The Statistics Aren’t on Your Side
Forty thousand companies out of one million will last over ten years. That means that 960,000 go out of business before their first ten years, and only 45 companies out of a million last 100 years.
Why are these figures so grim? What is it that makes preparing a business for future needs such a daunting task? To understand the background of the problem, let’s look at a parenting metaphor.
Parents spend nearly twenty years preparing their children to enter the adult world. In essence, those parents are “future-proofing their children. After all, Mom and Dad don’t know what the world will be like when the children reach adulthood, what kind of people they will encounter, what troubles will come their way, and what dangers they will face. The children will have to be self-sufficient, capable, and adaptable to the inevitable change that will take place during their lifetime.
Your business is no different.
It must be prepped for any eventuality. Every variable is considered.
As we have experienced over the past few years, the future is uncertain. But, with the right preparations, your business can move confidently into the future. The right technologies and strategies can put a forward-leaning company ahead of the competition that hasn’t invested in preparedness.
Let’s explore future-proofing your business, so you can outpace your competition when the next market fluctuation takes them by surprise.
The Connection Between Future-Proofing and Your Company’s Lifecycle
Tendayi Viki, an author, and corporate innovation expert, gave an insightful keynote address at the 2019 Solita Meeting Point. He said all business models have a life cycle, and the problem many companies make is taking the life cycle of a business model and making it the same thing as the life cycle of the company. These cannot be the same thing if you want to future-proof an organization because it chains the two life cycles together. Future-proofing should develop a portfolio of business models (not to be confused with a portfolio of products) that balance risk and return.
McKinsey reports that only 6% of executives are satisfied with their company’s innovation.
Coming up with ideas isn’t so much a problem as shaping those ideas into new value propositions that resonate with customers. Combine those value propositions into sustainably profitable business models. New value propositions require innovation. The objective is to build a portfolio of rising and fall business models to strengthen resiliency.
Reduce uncertainty by experimenting with ideas so that they become sources of revenue.
Innovation Readiness – Embedding Flexibility Into the Future of Your Business
As work and customer transactions continue to grow in a virtual environment, the need to experiment with ideas and business models in the digital realm will grow. Experimentation requires a purposeful engagement between leadership, employees, and technology.
According to the previously mentioned Harvard Business Review article, few business leaders “manage engagement with technology in a coordinated way, so employees become suspicious of it, and the technology underperforms management expectations. That’s a pity because when people and tech work together, everyone benefits.”
The article tells how USAA Insurance uses an integrated approach to developing and deploying AI-enabled tools. The use of next-generation technology frees up people on the claims team to focus on helping customers. “This kind of work is more satisfying for the people and better leverages their capabilities.”
The Future with Your Customers
One aspect of preparedness that makes becoming digital a competitive necessity comes from the customer engagement side.
As Deloitte reports, in nearly every industry across the globe today, customer expectations continue to rise. An explosion of device types and data means that most consumers now expect personalized experiences and increased access to increased amounts of information, when and where they need it. As the number of touchpoints grows, the customer wants “same customer” recognition at every point of interaction. Customer service is more than easy engagement. Today’s customer wants to be necessary each step of the way.
Customers expect products and services tailored to them in personalized, contextual interactions. Customers also wish to read reviews from other customers. The days of siloed IT systems and business functions are behind us, and those who do not realize this will soon be out of business. There is genuine pressure today, much more than a couple of years ago, to digitize operations and become digital companies. There is no time to lose.
Future-Proofing Your Profitability
A recent McKinsey report found that the top 20 percent of companies earn 95 percent of economic profit. Any organization that isn’t seeking new approaches is on borrowed time. By leveraging current technologies and embracing experimentation, organizations can discover new ways of doing things that are not as fragile and vulnerable to unpredictability.
Companies must define data, business, and infrastructure components and design them for reuse to succeed digitally. Reconsider customer offerings in terms of individual components (see the Lego analogy in Part 2 of Why is Digital Transformation So Important to Sustained Success?). One of the powerful benefits of being digital is the repository of reusable business, data, and infrastructure components.
The “How” of Future-Proofing – Operational Backbone and the Digital Platform
The operational backbone supports core business processes and relates to operational excellence. This set of systems is the cost of entry for doing business digitally into the future. In Designed for Digital, Jeanne Ross explains that companies with an adequate operational backbone are 2.5 times as agile and 44% more innovative than companies without an operational backbone. The digital platform, built on a foundation of cloud services, delivers new sources of revenue, leveraging the capabilities of digital technology to enhance customer engagement and solve customer problems. Digitizing operations is a much easier and shorter journey. Most companies experienced a certain amount of it during the pandemic when they had to, under duress, move to remote work environments. Full-on digital transformation is an ongoing process.
Think of it as a journey. New technologies show up on the horizon so frequently that companies have to adapt and adopt almost on the fly. Operating on legacy systems will make this level of agility impossible. Traditional siloed business environments will also prevent progress. It’s far too slow.
The traditional hierarchy of the corporate organizational chart is mechanical by design. Built on antiquated 18th and 19th Century Industrial Revolution ideas, the focus was uniformity, bureaucracy, and control. These are the antithesis of what companies need to focus on today. Now we need creativity, elasticity, and speed.
Protecting Your Data into the Future
From a technology perspective, companies must build ways to capture and store data because even if they don’t know how to make practical use of this gold mine of information now, they will figure it out shortly. An essential aspect of paradigm-shifting towards a future-proof strategy is realizing how important data will become for the long-term success of your business. Think in terms of components and modular applications. These are things that can repurpose for something else. Tap into the power and multiple benefits of accessible scalability-based technologies. Learning to utilize connecting and scaling data will enable companies to develop new products and digital value propositions.
A Future-Proofed IT Environment
In Four Factors to Help You Future-Proof Your IT Environment, Vivek Agarwal writes, “future-proofing means taking steps so you’re able to flex and expand as needed for as-yet-unknown needs and opportunities.” He goes on to explain how the cloud can make companies more agile in meeting customer needs. Moving away from traditional data centers into scalable cloud infrastructure can make enterprises nimbler and more adaptable.
Your core business – the value you deliver to your customers – is the flower that must be protected and nurtured.
With the evolution of technology and fluctuations in the market, the soil that your core business is in may change.
Future-proofing your business means fortifying the core business to thrive in whatever soil conditions it finds itself.
As a technology website, we are writing about technology and how digitization impacts all levels of business and the customer experience. But here’s the thing, technology is only a means to an end. Let’s summarize your next steps in the future-proofing your business.
Take advantage of cloud-based tools and digitizing operations to future-proof your business. They are merely ways to grease the rails of adopting new ways of doing things and liberate the most precious of your resources – people – from tedious manual input tasks.
Build easily scalable systems. Scalability will also impact flexibility so that management can focus on inspiring and revitalizing their teams and organizations.
Shift your team’s focus from reacting to the unexpected to one of possibility thinking. Human creativity and resilience work best in flexible environments that nurture growth, reward their strengths, and help compensate for their weaknesses.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW – NEW NORMAL
It surprised me. The first time that I heard a news broadcaster use the words “the new normal” in reference to the post COVID time frame made me stop and think. Here was a term first used following the financial crisis of 2008 and it’s aftermath. Until then, I was expecting everything to go back to how we had always known it.
I thought about it. I realized that the newscaster was right. COVID-19 has changed the way we do business – and life – forever. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, many facets of the way we do business have shifted. Daily, we see our lives become more confined. The uncertainty of it all restricts us in many ways. It is too early to tell what all the permanent business ramifications will be. But there is change in the air. One thing is certain. This situation will expose corporate weaknesses and strengths. How the story unfolds for your business depends largely on how you navigate the waters ahead.
Look at the current impact of the virus on business operations. It’s clear that the shift toward the “new normal” has caused the adoption of certain technologies sooner and faster than ever expected. Here are 6 ways technology trends have changed for better or for worse.
What Has Coronavirus, and Our Reaction to it, Changed in Business Forever?
1. The way businesses view and handle remote workers has changed.
In this article from MarketWatch, we see some business benefits of allowing employees to work from home, such as taking advantage of a more diverse talent pool and flexibility in labor costs.
A great number of employees now working from home. They’ve been working from home for a prolonged period of time. Many companies will have to make adjustments and accept remote workers. Being able to transition to a home or remote office when problems arise will be the new normal. The bonus: the flexibility allows for a more productive and capable workforce.
Tool and technology that’s ready to go in either environment is a great way to support your team. It encourages autonomy and collaboration among teams. Get the job done, regardless of location. That’s the new normal.
· Zoom or Microsoft Teams are cloud-hosted communications tools that allow for adhoc web meetings among different groups.
· Trello is a great way for companies to work together on projects, allowing for integration into other subscription-based business apps like Google drive or Dropbox for sharing.
· Slack is an attractive alternative to email, allowing single or team-based conversations that are searchable.
2. The way businesses view and use artificial intelligence has changed.
Another trend that has been gaining more traction is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically, machine learning. Being able to mine through the copious amounts of data we have on coronavirus is helping scientists and researchers find answers quicker than ever.
The use-case for machine learning (ML) is not limited to scientific research. Imagine being able to accurately forecast sales data. Or what if you could have a chatbot that could answer customer service inquiries 24/7 from your website?
ML has deep roots in cybersecurity. ML has the ability to analyze network traffic and detect anything seen as malicious. Many of the latest security tools incorporate AI/ML. They are able to learn the current cybersecurity posture of business systems. They can proactively combat malware threats.
The first step for a company is to vet, implement, and accept machine learning. This could be for a specific task or to provide general support to a department. Once this happens, the doors to advance technology swing open. The power of ML to benefit a company become apparent.
3. Acceptance of the public cloud infrastructure has changed.
With COVID-19 forcing businesses to rely on the cloud, company leaders that were once wary of public cloud infrastructure are now embracing it.
A recent CRN post reports cloud computing have enabled companies to scale business applications. And they’ve been able to do it reliably. Thanks to the minds behind Google, AWS, and Microsoft Azure, rapid scaling has been virtually trouble free.
Microsoft Azure alone has reported a 775% increase in usage of cloud services like Teams, PowerBI, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Relying on a proven infrastructure is good. Doing it without managing physical server hardware is even better. It is more critical now than ever before.
Businesses that use a cloud infrastructure can scale back without incurring unneeded costs. If they are in a current downswing.
Remote work, SaaS applications, and Cloud Infrastructure are in high gear. The COVID-19 crisis will cause these trends to gain more traction and use. Companies will scale their services and solutions. Those that wing themselves from on-premises infrastructure will have the advantage. They may even elect to downsize physical office buildings. Or not. Having the choice is also an advantage.
The changes to business and technology brought on by COVID-19 are here to stay. There are significant business benefits from this course adjustment. The adoption of cloud-based technologies is one of them.
· The ability to work from wherever is convenient and productive.
· The capacity to deliver a solution that is always available – regardless of business demand or outside factors.
· The freedom for a company to better align with its employees and customer needs.
4. The competitive edge and viability of companies has changed forever.
People are forced to stay home more. They don’t want to risk exposure. They become reliant on delivery services like Door Dash, PostMate, and InstaGuard to get food and supplies. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are bigger than ever.
Who is losing out?
Restaurants by the thousands will struggle to climb out of the COVID-19 trauma. Some won’t make it. The franchise chains will. Cinema theaters across the country are currently closed, and some of them will not reopen. This will have an impact on how movies are exhibited. It will also impact what types of feature films are developed and financed. Fewer studios will be willing to take the risk of financing blockbuster movies. This is especially true of disaster movies. These are the movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and market.
One night in early April, the Governor of New York summed up the problem, “The simplicity of it is so what makes it so tragic. Because we don’t have a piece of equipment somebody is going to die? How did we get to this place? In this county. We have to buy all our supplies from China? I can’t get protective equipment because China is making it? China is making the ventilators?”
But it’s not just medical supply chains that are being reconsidered. The coronavirus pandemic will also have long term effects on the tech hardware industry.
Parts needed to assemble various hardware and electronic products come from a multitude of sources. Most of them are overseas. A factory that makes television monitors doesn’t necessarily make the screens. The processing chips are made at a different factory. The power supply might be made at yet another factory. It’s all interconnected. If one factory is shut down, it impacts all the others down the line.
The entire system can grind to a halt. Having a supply chain that involves multiple nations like the United States and China will most certainly be re-evaluated. It’s better to have all the needed components of a particular name brand product to build closer to home. This will kill some tech manufacturing firms and enrich others.
The use of AI automation is going to make it more attractive for manufacturing to come back to the USA. That will shorten the length of supply chains while ensuring their security.
Apple’s already indicated that it won’t be able to make a sufficient supply of its Smartphones for the year. That’ll be true of other smartphone makers…some won’t make it. It has already begun.
The is Irony is that a virus that originated in China is ultimately helping China’s economy to bounce back. China has the capacity to manufacture much of the equipment needed in other parts of the world, including our own. Long term, many companies are going to be looking at diversifying their supply chain. They’ll avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.
5. Everyone in the company working in and from one building – or any company-owned building – has changed forever.
In an April 20th Fast Company article, several enterprise CEOs and influencers, including Jared Spataro (corporate vice president, Microsoft 365), agree that working from home and increased video conferencing will become the new normal.
Jared Spataro is quoted as saying,“This time will go down as a turning point for the way people work and learn. We have a time machine as China navigates its return back to work—and we’re not seeing usage of Microsoft Teams dip. People are carrying what they learned and experienced from remote work back to their “new normal.” We’re learning so much about sustained remote work during this time.”
Business is not the only place where “from home” situations will continue well after COVID-19 has been conquered. Education is another sector that has changed forever. But what about all those families that don’t have basic access to the Internet at home? School shutdowns requiring students to take online courses widen the socio-education disparity in our society.
Sal Khan, founder and CEO of the educational nonprofit Khan Academy, said, “The need for online access and devices in every home is now so dire that it may finally mobilize society to treat internet connectivity as a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. We’re already seeing governments, school districts, philanthropists, and corporations step up to close the digital divide. If this continues to happen, we could get to a state of nearly universal online access at home.”
Sal Khan’s prediction is already happening in Singapore where universal Internet connectivity is nearly 100%. Universal Internet connectivity in Singapore is part of their Intelligent Nation 2015 and Smart Nation initiative. In August 2018, Ookia’s speed tests determined that Singapore’s broadband speed of 181.47 Mbit/s is the highest in the world.
6. Our view of reliance on a single revenue stream – as a business and as individuals – has changed forever.
Will Lopez, head of accountant community at HR platform Gusto put it all into perspective when he said,
“This won’t be the end of brick-and-mortar store. Just as it won’t be the end of the digital cinema theater. These are important businesses. They help form the social fabric of our communities. But retail shops and restaurants will change the way they operate. The crisis has reminded people that they need to remain agile. It has reminded us to move with the times. Don’t be stuck with the old way of doing things.”
Where many of these shops have historically relied on foot traffic. These same shops will now develop ways to create alternative streams of revenue. For example, many restaurants will link up with delivery service platforms. They’ll expand their geographic reach. More boutiques will develop an online presence that reaches beyond their local neighborhoods.”
The “new normal” will mean most companies will stall. Many will go out of business. The ones that do survive must continue to optimize the way they operate. They will have to rethink their business models moving forward. Supply chains have been disrupted. For many this experience has been a painful lesson. Companies will respond. They’ll have to. They will strengthen whatever back-up plans they have in place. If there are none. They will have to build them from scratch. This includes expanded work-at-home capabilities for more employees. They’ll have to consider options. Then they must position themselves to take advantage of those options.
New resiliency metrics will be rolled into valuations along with climate-related risks. The whole concept of resiliency will have the same importance as cost and efficiency. Resiliency is no longer a nice to have, but a necessity.
Individuals, communities, businesses, and governments are learning new ways to connect. Business leaders are finding faster, cheaper ways to operate. Conferences and meetings happen on online. Everybody that can has been working from home. These are positive changes. Better management. A more flexible staff.
Can we create a next new normal? One that will be better than what it replaced? Can we become agile enough to move even as the situation moves? Can we learn to address the challenges positively. These will be a long-term questions for us all.
What innovations will there be to leverage?
What technologies will business leaders use to thrive in the “new normal?”