Is Your IT Infrastructure Ready For the Next Pandemic?
Before the pandemic forced government leaders to shut down entire industries and implement stay at home mandates, conventional disruption wisdom centered on disaster recovery. Few recognized the almost unprecedented impact a global pandemic could have on essential business functions and employee productivity.
The coronavirus did not just present a minor hurdle for organizations to reach into backups and restart operations. The contagion upended live-work culture as we know it. While industry leaders learned hard lessons, uncertainty remains about whether companies are prepared for another surge or entirely new pandemic. Thought leaders face a Darwinian moment in which preparedness, or lack of, will determine the survival of your operation’s existence. These are powerful ways that improved IT infrastructure can rank you among the fittest.
Establish An IT-Based Pandemic Survival Strategy
Just before the first wave of statewide lockdowns was ordered in mid-March, Gartner surveyed 1,500 business professionals about their pandemic preparedness. The results of that March 6 poll bear little resemblance to the crushing economic impact many experienced.
- 12 percent believed that they were highly prepared
- 56 percent stated they were well prepared
- 11 percent suggested they were ill-prepared
In hindsight, it’s increasingly likely the majority would consider themselves poorly prepared now that they realize the complexities of safe, secure, remote connectivity. These are IT infrastructure strategies that successful organizations found invaluable during the COVID-19 surge.
Top companies leveraged Cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams to connect workers and engage them in collaborative tasks and goal achievement. Increased remote IT infrastructure allowed wide-reaching organizations such as professional services, health care, education, and others to flourish.
Although millions of outfits quickly pivoted to work-from-home strategies, security sorely lagged. Hackers unleashed a wave of schemes targeting newly minted remote employees to penetrate business networks. Surviving the next pandemic requires industry leaders to harden cybersecurity defenses. These include Virtual Private Networks, enterprise-level antivirus software, 24-7 threat monitoring, encrypted data transmissions, as well as cybersecurity training, among others. Survival requires preparing for digital predators before they pounce.
According to a more recent Gartner survey, upwards of 74 percent of CFOs plan to maintain some level of remote workforce even after the crisis wanes. The common thread that runs through this policy shift concerns both another surge, as well as cost reductions. Decision-makers are poised to reduce capital expenditures such as office space leases and unwieldy investment into hardware that too quickly becomes outdated.
The prevailing winds embrace IT infrastructure and its results rather than risk getting caught paying for empty spaces. Other thought leaders are considering increasing their Cloud footprint and IT infrastructure to become more engaged in the digital economy.
Improved IT Helps Embrace The Digital Economy
As the COVID-19 crisis slows and economies reopen, everyday people see splashy headlines about large chain closures. Many are household name retailers that banked on brick-and-mortar facilities over increased online presence. Too many corporate decision-makers chose the path of the dinosaur. By contrast, organizations that embraced Cloud-based technology deftly negotiated the lockdown, and some even flourished.
“Seventeen years ago, the outbreak of SARS was spreading rapidly across China, and the Alibaba workforce had gone into quarantine. At the time, Alibaba was only four years old, and it was unclear whether the young start-up would survive. Suspending operations would have dealt a devastating blow to the company. But Alibaba employees packed up their desktop computers and telephones, carried piles of documents home and began to work,” Alibaba executive Brian A. Wong writes in We Economic Forum. “The crisis was, in hindsight, a transformative moment for the company.”
While wide-reaching organizations do not necessarily need to position themselves as the next Alibaba or Amazon, increased IT infrastructure can connect companies with clients and customers in times of crisis. Rolling out consumer apps, online sales sites, remote professional services, and Cloud-based platforms to drive profits is no longer optional. Improved IT infrastructure is now necessary for pandemic survival.