After the Pandemic: IT Leaders Discuss What Will Change

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Broader cloud adoption for data management: I predict we’ll see cloud adoption accelerate, rapidly, for many business functions but especially data management. Now more than ever, businesses need a complete picture for mission-critical decision making—which means making more data available for more people from more data sources inside and outside the enterprise. As a result, we will see more CIOs prioritize initiatives that ‘future proof’ their businesses by increasing agility, flexibility, and scalability. Many businesses are already moving to consolidate on-premise data warehouses and data lakes in the cloud. According to a recent TDWI report, nearly two-thirds (64%) of organizations surveyed are planning to apply cloud data management to support analytics and about half are moving to the cloud specifically for data warehousing and reporting. But I think we’ll start to see organizations in industries traditionally slow to adopt new technologies—like healthcare and government—make faster moves based on the lessons learned during the pandemic. Ronen Schwartz, EVP, Global Technical and Ecosystem Strategy & Operations at Informatica

Greater appreciation for how IT is intertwined with business: This crisis is showing just how co-dependent IT and business are. Supply chains are a good example of how important the relationship is. A lot of the important supply chain decisions made in the last couple of months were no more than educated guesses. Businesses and governments didn't have access to reliable data which they could base their decisions on.  In the case of ventilators, personal protective equipment, and tests, guessing wrong led to dire consequences. Instead, if decisions had been made using the best possible data, we'd probably be in a better spot today. For example, a company knowing who all their manufacturers are, and how exposed each one is to risk, allows the business to better anticipate disruptions and plan for workarounds. We're being tested in many ways we would have never imagined even 6 months ago, and are being forced to execute at unprecedented levels of efficiency, particularly in life sciences and healthcare. We're being stretched to our limits, but the reason to have hope is that the lessons we learn and innovations we develop will have positive, lasting effects.  Matt Holzapfel, Solutions Lead, Tamr

Supply chain management will emerge from the back office: Organizations will continue to be defined by their ability to adapt to rapid change and make complex business decisions amid unprecedented levels of uncertainty. This will put increased pressure on supply chain leaders who must ensure operations are nimbler across their entire ecosystem, from suppliers and partners to manufacturers and retailers. And, since historical data will no longer be accurate, supply chain leaders will need to incorporate external, leading indicators to help understand demand requirements in the future.

            As a result I think we will see businesses lean more heavily on intelligent supply chain management tools that link business processes with technology and arm supply chain leaders with real-time data from their entire ecosystem as well as from external demand drivers. Advanced modeling capabilities will also be critical in helping businesses assess a wide range of ever-changing variables so they can mitigate the impact of uncertainty on their supply chain. A digital transition within the supply chain will help break down siloed decision making, enabling supply chain leaders to work in lockstep with their cross-functional partners in IT, finance, sales and HR. Evan Quasney, VP, Global Supply Chain Solutions at Anaplan

It will be hard to put the WFH genie back in the bottle: The data we are collecting today will be used and analyzed for generations to come to improve our response, prevent future outbreaks, and ensure our global supply chain is solid. This is the greatest stress test in the history of the internet. We are finding where the dark spots and issues are. We realize that the instant gratification, always-on mentality works only under perfect conditions. We have seen websites, databases, and applications taxed to their breaking point. We now know the impact of a global disaster around the globe. In addition, it is going to be very hard to get the work remote genie back in the bottle. We are proving that work can be done in most industries without being in a physical office. Many companies who resisted modernization are now being forced to modernize at a rapid pace.

            Ultimately, IT and business will be forced to correct and overcome the shortcomings of the systems that we have in place today. We will be looking to ensure we have the elastic capacity to scale up and down on demand. The acceleration of people working cross-cloud or in a hybrid environment will increase, so that as one provider has issues with load or capacity, businesses will need to shift to another provider seamlessly. We will get through this, and in the end we will get stronger by learning many new lessons and uncovering the gremlins in our systems. Matt Yonkovit, CXO for Percona

Business continuity—this is not a drill: Putting together a plan that encompasses all the critical pieces the organization would need to maintain operations is critical to the success of businesses around the globe. Many organizations struggled with the lack of company-issued equipment, the ability to ensure quick access for employees, and shifting compliance and security policies to fit what was to become the new normal. Another challenge most organizations didn’t anticipate was adapting to a new way of management. 'War rooms' were taken online and leadership dynamics changed to deal with the new needs of the business. Collaboration between departments became essential—IT, Security, HR, and Business Operations had to break down their siloed work streams to seamlessly navigate the situation. Moving forward, we expect this connection to continue, as it only builds resiliency to face any other challenges after this pandemic is behind us. There is hope for all organizations moving forward, we need to remember the lessons learned and improve our approach to be ready to go back out there (literally) and continue building our businesses. Ian Pitt, CIO at LogMeIn

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