One of the few positive outcomes of this global health and economic crisis will be the collective realisation of what really matters. Overnight, the world stopped. Our lives were stripped of all the fluff, forcing us to re-evaluate priorities and hold onto the essentials. A stable income, health, human contact.
The same is true for the enterprise world. Businesses had to scrap their 2020 roadmap and start anew, trimming down costs and adjusting short- and mid-term goals. Those lucky enough to be in an industry where remote work makes sense have done their best to stay operational. This struggle, in turn, has further highlighted the strategic importance of one particular department – IT.
Accelerating digital transformation
For some, the road to digital transformation has been a shorter and bumpier ride than expected. The sudden need for company-wide telework has caught them unprepared, without the necessary infrastructure or processes in place. But the surge in demand for IT services has put a strain on even the best-prepared organisations.
Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and cloud services have experienced lag and other issues, forcing providers to implement new measures and double down on personnel. Traditional retailers have turned to online sales, whereas pure e-commerce players and multichannel operators are expanding their overall organisational structure.
All of this is only made possible by technology investments and the development of IT teams. Furthermore, the current situation offers a good reminder of technology’s key role in ensuring companies can quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
As we have discussed in the past, a home-based workforce has made it easier for attackers to exploit weaknesses in enterprise networks. Not to say that business leaders were unaware of the dangers of cyberthreats before. Cybersecurity has long been in the top list of worries for CIOs.
However, the risks — and stakes — are now higher than ever. Companies are putting a renewed focus on the importance of implementing appropriate protocols and tools, from VPNs to cloud security. The push to guarantee business continuity is making organisations compete for the best security specialists, accentuating an already pervasive shortage of skilled talent.
Navigating uncharted waters
But not all challenges that businesses face are as straightforward. New regulatory landscapes, like the ones brought forth by GPDR and the UK’s upcoming IR35, can be difficult for companies to figure out.
For example, those speeding up digital transformation might not be fully aware of the ins and outs of data privacy laws and inadvertently commit malpractice. Again, technological tools like enterprise automation can be decisive in helping organisations manage the unknown and limit exposure. IT departments can employ digital workers to comb through data sets or carry out other time-consuming tasks to ensure compliance with current regulations.
Additionally, IT can greatly help enterprises deal with evolving economic and market scenarios. Machine learning and other types of AI software are great allies in the search of new areas of business, helping sales teams identify leads and allowing for more accurate predictions.
Numbers don’t lie
Recent studies suggest that business leaders know perfectly well that IT is set to play a pivotal role in the COVID-19 aftermath. Yes — IDC expects a 2.7% decline in worldwide IT spending this year. But this data must not be taken out of context.
All seems to indicate that CFOs are, as usual, exercising caution and limiting overall spending across the organisation. However, it looks like most companies recognise the strategic importance of technology by prioritising IT spending over other areas. This sentiment was echoed in a recent poll by Imperial College Business School, which revealed that 48% of businesses were planning to prioritise the hiring of IT professionals in the coming months.
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