It’s no surprise that, in the face of concerns over COVID-19, IT leaders are taking stock and considering what the impact might be on their operations.
As a seasoned IT executive who has been through global shocks and economic slowdowns before, there is one action I believe all IT departments should not fail to do at this time—continue to invest in technologies that will protect their businesses, save money, or reduce expenses and also position the firm for when things turn around and get better.
With that in mind, here is my list of the top five technologies IT leaders must continue to invest in:
No surprises here. Security should always be the number one concern of IT. COVID-19 enhances these risks.
Cybercriminals are already seeking to capitalize on fears of a global health emergency with phishing and malware attacks. There have been reports of an active campaign in Japan where cyber criminals are disguising emails as official notifications from public health centers and welfare service providers. In Canada, there have been reports of attacks with titles such as, “Confidential Cure Solution on Corona Virus,” delivering malware to steal personal and financial information. With many businesses now asking most of their workforce to work from home, the number of end-point attacks will only increase. Providing the infrastructure and support for large-scale teleworking will push many IT operations to capacity. Make sure to ask for the resources needed to get through this time and be prepared for the increased cybersecurity risks such a shift can bring.
It will also only be a matter of time before AI-enabled attacks appear as systems and actors increase their sophistication to capitalize on the global crisis and changes in work/behavior patterns. Along with the traditional cyber activities, don’t fall victim to putting investments in cyber AI and ML technologies on hold because they could soon be the most important ones for protecting your company.
2. Workplace Collaboration Tools
In a world of restricted travel and face-to-face meetings, work must still go on. Team collaboration software needs to work—and work well. From instant messaging to video conferencing tools, IT departments should continue to invest in collaboration capabilities that are accessible not just from a desktop computer but also mobile devices. Good collaboration tools will enable your company to continue to operate between teams, departments, and organizations, irrespective of the distance or location of the people involved.
3. Focused Analytics
Although it’s important to continue to keep spending on general business intelligence, resources should go toward very focused analytics—the type of analytics that help retain your customers and reduce variable costs.
Continue to invest in technologies that offer customer insights and not skimp on customer-engagement tech. For example, in the travel industry, it will be important to continue to engage customers who may be cancelling plans due to the virus so that, when things turn around, you and not your competitors attract them back.
It’s also important to not lose sight of where money is spent—especially with vendors and supply chains. Disruptions to supply chains and logistics could force many companies to consider new suppliers and contracts. Slowdowns also provide an opportunity to reexamine all external spending, including renegotiating vendor and outsourcing contracts. By rationalizing nonstrategic vendors and bundling together existing contracts into one vendor, significant cost savings can be achieved. Having focused analytics on procurement spend and risks will be critical so you can feel confident in your next steps.
4. Virtualization and Cloud-Migration
Virtualization allows people to get the most out of what they already have and uses automated processes to streamline the migration of physical and virtual workloads. Up-front investment in virtualization tends to be low but can deliver quick and substantial returns. Virtualization should continue to be on your list because it allows companies to defer other costs—such as sidestepping server purchases and related hardware and software licensing costs.
Moving to the cloud is also an area I would double-down on. Even before COVID-19, multiple studies have stated that up to 80 percent of enterprises have looked into shutting down their traditional data centers and migrating to the cloud. The COVID-19 outbreak is another example of why this shift is important because achieving flexibility and scalability in the cloud is much easier. Our company is fully cloud-based so we can move the infrastructure between availability zones in near instant time, and our business applications and tools are available from around the world.
5. Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) provides a great opportunity to streamline enterprise operations and reduce costs. Not only does RPA have the potential to eliminate tedious tasks and free up resources, it has the added advantage of acting as a stopgap en route to intelligent automation (IA) via machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)—other areas where investment should continue to be made because these technologies will bring you advantages when things turn around and get better.
Above All, Be Proactive
Ideally, we will soon see the aggressive measures being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, which should prove effective in helping temper the panic that markets are now responding to. That said, businesses do need to be prepared for a slowdown, given supply chain disruptions and the uncertainty associated with the virus. It is paramount for IT leaders to be proactive rather than reactive in their planning. Being proactive whatever the future holds, can be a good thing.
About the Author
James Chung is VP Technical Operations at Globality. Globality’s vision is to unlock world-class services. Using innovative A.I. technology built upon a constantly-expanding knowledge foundation with millions of data points, Globality ensures a level playing field so companies get the best service providers at the right price for every project. More https://www.globality.com/en-us
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