Having worked in the IT industry for over 10 years, I have never experienced a situation like the current one we find ourselves in today (nor have I in my whole lifetime if the truth be known!) and so it is uncharted territory for everyone. The closest experience, from a business perspective, we can relate to would have to be the “Credit Crunch” in 2008 which lead to an 18 month recession resulting in the billion dollar bailout of several banks. We are yet to see the fallout of the current lockdown, but it’s safe to say there will be losers and those that survive, and are able to push on from whatever outcomes occur.
As I come to the end of my first month of working from home due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been interesting to see how different businesses have reacted to ensure they stay operational and don’t succumb to financial difficulties, administration & closure.
I have been involved with two organisations that have taken very opposite approaches to the “lockdown” and it has given an insight to each company’s business model and in particular their view point on IT.
If I look at company A, a products & services organisation working with Letting Agents & Tenants, their office setup was to have desk-based workers, utilising desktops. When the lockdown was imposed, they originally looked at asking employees to take home the desktops to enable them to work from home. A decision was then made to put staff on furlough and therefore nullifying the need to place spend on IT kit for their staff to be able to work from home. Whilst I appreciate this decision wouldn’t have been taken lightly, it can lead to uncertainty with staff and potentially cause issues around staff retention as people weigh up their options.
I then take company B, an Investment Management firm, who’s setup was half and half in terms of desk-based and remote based workers. Again, when the directive to work from home came through, they took the approach to invest in IT hardware to ensure their employees could setup a work environment from home. The purchase of laptops, monitors, headsets and other peripherals key to enable the employees to have a set up similar to the one they were used to in the office. The decision to go down this route was made immediately and provided staff with peace of mind and in turn should see high effect on staff retention.
In terms of the business models that have been adopted here, Company A showcased to me that the business’s view on IT, is it’s very much considered to be a cost centre to them. In these uncertain times, they felt that keeping spending down and utilising government to no impact.
If we now look at Business Intelligence (BI) and how the utilisation of this could support decision making, we can see that Company B, through the implementation of Office365 and Power BI dashboards/graphical representation of their KPI’s, enabled them to flip over to a remote working strategy and whilst an invest has been made to ensure operations can carry on, it’s been a significantly smaller investment than what would’ve been needed by Company A, to have enabled them to be in the same position.
Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer here in terms of which would be the “correct” model to follow as no one organisation is the same and the current pandemic has had a vastly differing effect dependent on which vertical or industry they’re in, the size & structure etc. but an adoption of BI could’ve supported companies in their approach to the current scenario and if there is one thing that has come out of all this, and will definitely be imprinted into every companies polices & strategies moving forward, whether that’s a new start-up or existing, is ensuring that operations can continue remotely and be agile enough to make the switch from onsite to remote quickly, should an unprecedented scenario occur like this again.