In the panic move towards remote working in 2020, most organizations have concocted quick and dirty accommodations just to run the business. Digital transformation plans have accelerated at breakneck speed as employees shifted to working from home overnight with virtually no time for planning, research or preparation. Instead of the thoughtful and cautious deployment envisioned by CIOs, they were instead forced to make urgent decisions and hope for the best, assuming it would all be short-lived.
Instead, those crisis plans have become the status quo, making 2021 the year of hybrid work. As organizations have settled into this new reality, it is clear that there is no turning back. Despite the best-laid plans, many CIOs believe the pace of digital transformation will continue to accelerate, mainly catalyzed by outside forces beyond their control.
Digital transformation strategy to be done for 2022
As CIOs shift from reactive to proactive, it’s time to move from those contingency plans to a long-term strategy. Here are four lessons CIOs need to take away from 2021 to inform their plans for the year ahead.
1. Build an IT infrastructure for the hybrid environment
With hybrid work here to stay, IT and security infrastructure must adapt over the long term, which could mean the unwinding of some of the quick fixes put in place in the rush to transition.
For example, at the start of the crisis, our team of engineers at Nomadix moved operations to their home garages so that we could continue to build and test new products for our customers. After a year, many have a full server rack at home for R&D. Now we plan to move even lab environments and test equipment to outsourced and centralized data centers. This will provide better reliability and security and virtually eliminate the need for a fixed physical office location, allowing our network engineers to work from anywhere.
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2. Review business continuity and disaster recovery plans
Having lived through the mother of all disasters, it is almost comical now to go back on our business continuity plans starting in 2019. If our office caught fire, maybe we should have been working from home! Now we have to consider what could go wrong in this environment as standard operating procedure.
For example, what happens if your distributed infrastructure fails? Previously, you probably didn’t care which ISP your employees use, but if they are all using the same carrier and there is a major fiber outage in their network, how are you going to adapt?
You may want to consider giving your employees critical functions on diverse endpoints (which probably means subsidizing that cost) to mitigate the risk of a widespread business disruption.
3. Balance innovation with operations
To be more agile, innovation and development teams must be closer to the business and involve the entire team in the development, testing and validation of new products. This ensures that their priorities are met from the start and that no time or resources are wasted. Performance and regression testing and security analysis should be integrated throughout, in real time, to shorten the development cycle for maximum efficiency.
In our organization, this meant moving to weekly sprints and release cycles for our internal infrastructure. Each week, our sales reps prioritized what was most important and participated in the testing and validation process. As we worked on the rollout of our new partner portal, our marketing and support teams were involved from the start, advising the development team and testing features and functionality.
By bringing IT and business operations together, we’ve been able to balance innovation and operations without having to sacrifice either, even when talent or resources were limited.
4. Act with empathy and a people-centered approach
With such a focus on adapting infrastructure, it’s easy to forget that people are involved here too. Managing change is as much about helping people adapt and accept a new system as it is about the system itself. From an IT perspective, you don’t often think of helping people, but that needs to change, especially in a remote environment where people can already feel a bit disconnected.
Applying the principles of marketing communications to support internal change can be a game-changer. As you adapt your operations, develop communication plans that treat employees like customers you are trying to convince to buy your product. “Market” your new system or process to employees with proactive messages that explain what they’re getting from it and how it will make their jobs easier.
Make sure leaders all speak the same language and identify internal company champions. Keep them close and up to date so they can be the eyes and ears within their local working groups to answer questions and identify obstacles. Deploy help guides, cheat sheets and other materials, as well as comprehensive training and support. Making it easier for your employees to adapt to new systems and processes will make them much more supportive and comfortable, and ultimately lead to better adoption and buy-in.
As we envision a new year, we all desperately want to move on. But CIOs need to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are not done yet. While there are signs of hope and leaders need to maintain an optimistic outlook, we also need to be realistic and have a plan in place in case the recovery is slower than expected.
By taking a step back from the crisis, revisiting our short-term coping strategies, and planning 2022 roadmaps with a long-term approach, organizations can move forward in the new world of work with confidence, security, security, and confidence. innovation and empathy.
[Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet.]