Over the past year, everything from cyber attacks to the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened a business's ability to function. As a result, organizations face the challenge of balancing flexibility with productivity and must build agile and resilient infrastructures.
To maintain productivity in today's complex business ecosystem, business continuity plans are just not enough. In fact, they are largely unreliable or inapplicable. When millions of people had to suddenly work or learn from home during lockdown, on-premises organizations had to quickly scale their remote working capabilities. The organizations that succeeded in this had prioritized agility in their infrastructure.
We're already seeing resilient organizations using a hybrid work model. The Accenture "Future of Work Study 2021" found that 63% of high-growth companies have adopted a "productivity anywhere" workforce model. To do this, organizations must continue to make technology investments that ensure employees have secure access to work resources from any location or device.
An agile and resilient infrastructure requires investments in technologies such as digital tools, security and workplace connectivity. This new model requires a different way of thinking about business infrastructure -- one ready to adapt to whatever comes next.
Out with the old ways of thinking
The undeniable truth is that everyone is in uncharted territory. The pandemic led to a huge shift in how employers expect to interact with organizations, how customers want to interact with brands and how employees demand to be treated.
These changes have led to what is being dubbed "the Great Resignation." An August survey by Bankrate found that 55% of Americans are currently looking for a new job or plan to in the next 12 months. If organizations want to attract and retain talent, biases about worker productivity and management principles must change. This shift will require leaders to approach their applications and infrastructure more fluidly.
For the infrastructure, organizations must make a holistic commitment to agility. Doing so is necessary to keep pace with innovation and change, even without really knowing the end destination. No one can fully prepare for what the future will demand.
Business leaders can prepare for these future unknowns by encouraging employees from the top down to embrace agility. An agile mindset means not letting organizations' infrastructure slow down their innovative efforts. Whether it be a pandemic or an ever-evolving regulatory environment, an agile mindset can strengthen IT departments to ensure success.
By thinking big and starting small, businesses can deliver quickly with these three steps:
- Visualize. Organizations can't get to where they want to be if they don't know where that is. By setting their sights on a specific end game, organizations can visualize the priorities at hand and the goal in the future.
- Refocus. Sharpen your current initiatives based on the visualized end game and quickly accommodate unknown new circumstances.
- Avoid pitfalls. Organizations should bring in experts to help realize their vision with fewer mistakes.
In with the new era of stability
Digital resiliency requires cross-functional leadership buy-in to the concept that every function is a technology function.
Enterprise-level businesses often have siloed departments with differing goals and unclear ideas of what is happening in other departments. This prevents them from seeing the big picture and adopting tools for everyone's disposal.
Breaking down departmental siloes is key for resiliency and success. Accomplishing this requires communication and innovative thinking. Can one tech investment positively impact the business in more than one area? Can improved processes to ensure adaptation of the technology improve outcomes and further maximize investments already made? Encouraging leaders to share best practices and new tech they're excited about can change the game in ways never imagined.
Agility and resiliency may seem like corporate buzzwords to some. However, those who practice this new way of thinking know that being adaptive today allows businesses to innovate faster in the future. Readying infrastructure for continuous delivery and improvement will, ultimately, drive new business value, reduce time to market and ensure resilience.
About the author
Michael Norring is president and CEO of GCSIT, an engineering consulting firm and value-added reseller based in Seattle.