April 20, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has led many businesses to declare that they will miss their financial goals due to fragmented supply chains and decreased customer demand. This is an unforeseen and unprecedented scenario that no business could have imagined or prepared for.
This calls for a new approach to business which can not only be implemented in this crisis but can also prepare every business for such future eventualities.
An expanding purview
For business leadership, the onus now is on navigating uncertain times by making the correct decisions. According to research by Gartner, CFOs across industries are trying various methods as a short-term response to COVID-19. The C-level executives, such as CFOs and CIOs in particular, must manage the tough challenge of delivering higher quality at a lower cost while mitigating the risk.
Some examples include increased service desk and security needs due to extended working from home (WFH) as well as driving automation to manage the drastically reduced budgets due to the financial impact to their enterprise. With hiring freeze and reduced budgets, this is the time of true leadership for CIOs. We recommend the following key actions to be undertaken by CIOs as they navigate through these unchartered waters:
- Create IT crisis management teams that are well connected to the business continuity teams so any response is well coordinated with business. An important focus of this crisis management team should be to create and address the impact of a variety of scenarios on business, IT, customer and support functions defining the role of IT in all these scenarios.
- Create an IT dashboard that provides them a single snapshot of the availability and usage of IT infrastructure cutting across storage, servers, network, security, and other areas. DRYiCE MyXalytics is one such product that comes bundled with over 1,200 dashboards that can be deployed within a matter of days to stay on top of the IT infrastructure status and evolving needs.
- Effective and frequent communication is a key to alleviating employee anxiety and showing empathy and gratitude to their efforts during this crisis. Celebrate every small win so people stay motivated while working remotely.
- With WFH being the norm, CIOs need to enable several solutions that can make the life of a virtual employee easier and more productive while reducing the workload on IT due to this change. A simple and effective way to address this is end point automation that can drive automation for the most common issues related to password reset, VPN, system performance, Application crashes, and more. DRYiCE OptiBot offers such an end point solution that can be implemented very quickly to avoid the overloading of IT service desks which is probably already overwhelming them.
- Every Analyst now recommends implementation of a cognitive virtual assistant (CVA) that can help address FAQs as well as provide a consistent and an excellent customer experience. DRYiCE Lucy is a leader in CVA that comes bundled with over 1,800 ready-to-implement use cases that can lower the IT service desk burden immediately.
- Evaluate automation and AI solutions that are quick and easy to implement so CIOs can deliver on the promise of lower cost and high efficiency. DRYiCE iAutomate is one such AI led run book automation solution that can enable CIOs to automate runbooks driving higher efficiency and resilience in their environment.
The show must go on
The final crucial aspect that business leaders need to consider is establishing a robust business continuity plan (BCP). Even though most well-established organizations have had a BCP in some form, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed that more factors need to be incorporated in future BCPs. These include multi-site exigencies, costs, and risk trade-offs.
In the short term, organizations need to provide support to their remote workforce and prioritize their productivity through an adaptive digital workplace activation strategy. They should also enhance digital customer experience and service by leveraging technologies such as self-service tools, mobile apps, and CVAs, among others. Enterprises are also responsible for increasing awareness and accessibility of IT policies, and proactively assess and enhance their technology infrastructure security, especially in a BYOD-dominant scenario. Finally, they should optimize IT costs by boosting cash holdings and collecting dues.
For the long term, business leaders have to develop a strong digital workplace strategy that includes security protocols, collaboration platforms, and network support. They should also implement a holistic crisis situation analysis and response planning for possible crises. This includes instituting a single source of truth for making business-relevant information on employees, customers, vendor partners, platforms, and tools, to address the lack of reliable and accessible data. Existing applications can also be restructured to be compatible with cloud environments.
For business and IT leaders, the time is now to act on these focus areas so that they can be in control of the changing work paradigm.
Amit Gupta is the Executive Vice President and Global Head of DRYiCE Software - A business unit of HCL Technologies focused on building AI-led Products and Platforms. A firm believer in building strong organizations that outlast leaders, he leads a global team that is responsible for driving growth for this division.
Amit has held several leadership roles since joining HCL America in 1998. Prior to this, he led the Hi-Tech and Manufacturing Industry vertical from January 2016 - March 2018. He also established and led Travel, Transportation & Logistics Vertical from 2009 - 2016. Under his Leadership, the TTL vertical grew at a 41% CAGR becoming one of the fastest growth verticals for HCL.
Amit is a frequent speaker and invited panelist on several global industry forums.