Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have been forced to undergo rapid transformations in how they operate, including their use of technology. Cloud-based applications, personal devices, and working from home all often become the rule rather than the exception. Now, as things start to settle down (on what is likely to be a long road to recovery), there’s a renewed focus on ways of working and how technology can help to optimize business operations and outcomes. To help, this blog looks at how IT service management (ITSM) can aid your organization’s much-needed digital transformation in the ‘new normal’.
1. Keep the flexibility of the last few months
For many, working from home was once a nice to have, now it’s often essential. Even though the world is slowly starting to return to normal, restrictions still exist and social distancing continues to be the norm. The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to adapt to changed working conditions. Where, if it wasn’t possible to access on-premises services we used SaaS solutions such as G-Suite or Office 365. Or when we had issues using the file server, we used Dropbox or OneDrive. And when we couldn’t meet in person, we used Zoom, Teams, or GoToMeeting.
Plus pre-pandemic, many IT departments might have had strict rules on supported devices, rules that were very quickly rendered obsolete as the world entered lockdown. Colleagues that would usually have worked from corporate devices had to work on personal devices or tablets.
Much of what was used as “quick fixes” worked well, raising the bar for what employees expect in terms of IT enablement. Now, as some semblance of normality returns, IT leaders need to ensure that the services delivered continue to meet business and employee expectations, including maintaining some of the new service offerings that help to make IT enablement all of flexible, secure, and resilient as we move forward.
2. Use the cloud more
Many IT departments struggled to help customers access on-premises services during the lockdown. There are benefits of such on-premises solutions – for example, some legacy systems can only support on-premises configurations, licensing set up, or even regulatory directives – but there are so many variables in play. What if the person’s network connection isn’t great? What if employees need to use a complicated VPN set up to access the application? Or what if end users require extensive training to use that complicated VPN?
The use of cloud services instead offers many benefits over their on-premises equivalents. For example, they can reduce costs due to not having the same hardware requirements. They’re easy to scale up as people return to work. And employees can sync work automatically with the cloud such that work is always being backed up.
3. Reduce the dependence on, and risks of, legacy systems
Now is the time for change, people. Ask any service desk manager about their biggest headaches and legacy systems will be high up on the list. We’ve all seen customers that have built a bespoke application in-house or purchased software only to customize it into something unrecognizable and potentially unsupportable.
The cost of simply maintaining legacy systems can become prohibitive putting the business under pressure to find alternative solutions and quickly. There’s also the real risk of a skill gap if a key person leaves the team. So, as part of the ‘new normal,’ work with the business to do a sanity check on key services and if any of them are underpinned by legacy systems, highlight the risk, and agree on a way forward. It might be that it’s too costly or expensive to replace at the moment but even things like increasing backup frequency, more regular health checks, or maintenance reboots (controlled service restarts) can reduce the risk until more can be done.
4. Change the conversation about “Shadow IT”
A decade or more ago, Shadow IT was a scary and dangerous thing. Then “the consumerization of IT” and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies reduced this. Now 2020 has been another game-changer in how we view supported devices.
If employees are unable to get their mission-critical tasks done with their existing corporate equipment they’ll go elsewhere. The reality is that we’re all competing with Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook in terms of “the experience” so we need to be flexible in our support and compromise is key. We’re not advocating a free-for-all where everyone uses anything they like. Instead, take the time to survey your business to see if you can agree on support arrangements for the most frequently used personal devices. Your end users will thank you (and stop trying to go around you) we promise.
It's not just that technology is key to future business success, it’s that the right technology is key to future business success.
How do you think ITSM will help to support digital transformation in the new normal? And what digital transformation advice would you offer to others? Please let us know in the comments.