COVID-19 has impacted the lives of almost everyone on the planet. Health and safety are obviously the top concerns. But as everyone knows, it has also severely disrupted businesses worldwide and has, specifically, created chaos for CIOs as they struggle to ensure operational continuity even as things change in an unprecedented fashion overnight. For a limited time, Google is sharing aggregated and anonymized insights from products such as Google Maps to enable communities to understand how movement patterns have shifted due to COVID-19. At the time of this article, it reported that:
- Transit stations were down 75% in the U.K. and 51% in the U.S.
- Workplaces overall were down 55% in the U.K. and 38% in the U.S.
This may come as no surprise as governments imposed broad isolation rules and forced organizations to embrace remote working in the interest of safety. Importantly, the statistics reinforce the fact that lockdowns are being taken seriously. They also raise the question: Will things ever go back to the way they were? Of course, no one knows. But it’s quite possible the answer is no. There are many reasons for this. Some employees have a newly discovered sense of autonomy, an improved work-life balance as they save time they used to spend commuting, and have begun to question why they didn’t make the transition to remote working sooner. For the IT department, in many cases, it means they will have to ensure their infrastructure and tools are capable of supporting higher volumes of traffic for sustained periods of time. It has also become more important than ever to help ensure operational continuity by immediately resolving IT issues and, where possible, preventing them before they even happen. According to Gartner, “While customer service and support leaders are familiar with business continuity and disaster recovery planning, pandemic planning is different because of its wider scope and the uncertainty of impact. The global and dynamic impact of events such as COVID-19 also require planning for longer recovery times and many scenarios; because pandemic events are so fluid, things can change quickly and without notice. Customer service and support leaders need well-developed but flexible plans to deal with COVID-19. These plans should address operational continuity, staff morale and customer demand.” What does operational continuity look like in the new normal? The new normal will likely include significant paradigm shifts — but rather than preparing to respond to a specific anticipated change, leading IT innovators are already preparing for change itself. This includes intensified focus on these key areas:
- Cloud mobility - Cloud computing has obviously already had a huge impact on IT architectures, but going forward, IT leaders will require tools to help seamlessly move workloads to and from the cloud and to help them understand when to do so.
- Unified communications - Recent months have enlightened many business leaders regarding what can be accomplished remotely, and IT leaders will require tools to optimize audio and video cost and productivity for a workforce that can change dramatically overnight
- Automation - IT leaders have long sought a “lights-out data center” where everything is automated, but there is a new level of rigor to build these solutions to increase efficiency, deal with dynamic workforces and architectures, and remove the element of human error.
These aren’t new concepts or technologies, but the importance that will be placed on these areas will likely rise dramatically. To learn more, watch this on-demand webinar on dealing with the new normal in IT.
 Coronavirus Impact on Service Delivery Continuity, Employees and Customers by John Quaglietta and Deborah Alvord