After the Pandemic: IT Leaders Discuss What Will Change

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Business and IT have, in the past, used times of crisis to adapt and transform themselves for the better. While the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably had a devastating effect on business, and life itself, it will also be a catalyst for change, compelling organizations to rethink their long-term operations and spending, amidst the short-term crisis brought on by the health emergency.

DBTA recently asked enterprise leaders about the lessons being learned, the changes that can be expected in IT and business in a post-pandemic world, and whether there is any reason for hope. Here, 15 executives share their predictions for what "the new normal" may look like.

More open data and collaboration: The global pandemic is teaching us to share more and do more across a variety of stakeholders with access to important data sets. For example, the wonderful Coronavirus Resource Center and Case Map provides us with a fantastic visualization of the progress of the virus, both from a worldwide perspective down to a very granular, local view. The website combines resources from industry, government, and academia. ESRI and NOAA provided map information. John Hopkins University & Medicine group provided the web know-how and built and hosts the site. And non-governmental organizations, for-profit businesses, and government entities provided a host of open datasets, from WHO, CDC, ECDC, NHC, DXY, 1point3acres,, BNO, state and national government health departments, and local media reports. It is my hope that the success of this and many other websites will teach intransigent world leaders to further support the free flow of data. Kevin Kline, principal program manager at SentryOne and DBTA columnist

The "new normal" will be anything but: I don't know what the new normal will be, but I know it will be anything but normal. COVID-19 has had a rapid and profound impact on our personal life, work-life, businesses, and economies both at home and abroad. Agile organizations that have made the investment and shift to DevOps, flexible infrastructure in the cloud and on-premise, have vast amounts of data available, and can deliver capabilities through software, have a spectacular advantage in volatile times. Every economic crisis brings with it pain but also opportunities. Right now is when the investments pay off from digital transformation strategies, agile and DevOps-based software delivery management, and software created and managed cloud infrastructure. These investments, along with savvy strategies, flexible technologies, and excellence in execution, are significant factors in determining the winners and losers of the 2020 decade. — Mitch Ashley, an industry analyst on digital transformation and software who leads ASG

More digital, less office time: In the midst of all the bad news, we see small glimmers of hope. We’re becoming more comfortable with digital interactions out of sheer necessity. Our carbon footprint is significantly decreasing. We’re spending more time with family. And we’re devising ways to stay connected on business and personal levels through the power of technology. In a post-COVID-19 world, the organizations that succeed will be those that are embracing this new norm. Maybe it will be less about that fancy office and the costs associated, and more about creating a culture that empowers employees to be successful remotely. I believe our priorities as a society will change and the future will be measured less by the commute time into the office or the distance traveled to visit customers, and more by how we stay engaged with one another through innovations in technology. — Rowan Scranage, Chief Business Officer, Alluxio

Digital transformation on steroids: COVID-19 will be a catalyst for change when it comes to organizations’ digital investments in the age of increased physical separation. In fact, traditional business models that haven’t made digital acceleration a priority investment will likely be displaced faster. Take, for example, a digitally-enhanced remote workforce: The newly ‘virtual’ office will accelerate the need for organizations to support all forms of mobility and collaboration tools (which enable remote access) for workers and consumers, and even their friends and family. This will ultimately drive the need for better UX interaction and connectivity. On the other hand, this will trigger bigger investments in the cloud, which provides access to compute and storage, and is needed to support digital initiatives without maintaining a physical presence. For remote workforces, this eliminates the need for ‘in person’ management of a facility while providing virtually untapped resources ‘on demand’ as they scale new digital workloads. Mark Troester, VP of Strategy at Progress

A wake-up call to better understand processes and people: The work-from-home pendulum is likely to swing dramatically from 'not possible' to 'we can get a lot more done than we thought' to 'but I really do value in-person collaboration.' The net result will be a balanced approach to travel and in-person meetings versus the full-throttle, travel everywhere, all the time model that we saw in the last 10 years. Global supply chains will be rethought to avoid single-points-of-failure. In addition, whatever remained of the on-premise technology mindset will be eliminated in all but the rarest of cases, accelerating the cloud infrastructure trend when companies suddenly realize how much people-time and cost was spent on operating inefficient on-premise infrastructure. And companies will have to rely on nimble data analysis that can match rapidly changing business environments. The lightning-fast economic impact of this pandemic was a wake-up call to deeply understand every element of operational efficiency and customer needs/behaviors on a very granular basis. Dominant companies were already doing that, and now every company sees how it can mean life or death in a world that can turn on a dime.  — Billy Bosworth, CEO, Dremio

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