August 21, 2020 By Lexi Soberanis 4 min read

As we return to the workplace in phases, now is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come and how different work looks moving forward. After all, today’s learnings drive tomorrow’s transformations. Maintaining business continuity is as important as ever. In the face of digital disruption, it’s important to learn from our collective experiences and rethink the way we work. In this article, we will look at five business continuity takeaways from industry leaders who took a moment to reflect on their digital transformation journey and COVID-19 response.

Takeaway 1: A hybrid cloud model provides the agility needed to quickly react in times of business disruption, as we’ve seen during COVID-19.

Take, for example, the experience of Fikri Larguet, GEICO Director of Products and Services. As the second largest insurer in the United States, the company’s need to continue to scale and expand their infrastructure footprint was their catalyst for cloud adoption—but not their only benefit. When asked about the effect COVID-19 and cloud adoption had on business continuity, Larguet said, “This crisis only reinforced and validated GEICO’s cloud strategy. It was interesting to note that those companies that have navigated this crisis successfully were the ones that achieved a solid maturity in their cloud presence and invested in growing a team with strong cloud expertise. GEICO was up for the challenge.”

Takeaway 2: Companies need to become smarter businesses running on smarter IT, making digital capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) more important than ever.

The more you can infuse smarter approaches into your day-to-day operations, the better results you’ll see from your IT infrastructure transformation. The team at multinational oil company Chevron uses a smarter, hybrid multicloud environment to improve workflows, increase ROI and enhance their ability to provide value. To better approximate drilling costs between financial systems and drilling engines, Sebastian Gass, General Manager of Technology, Strategy and Services for Chevron, worked with his team to create intelligent workflows that increase efficiencies using AI.

This same approach can be applied to areas such as maintenance and reliability, value chain integration, energy efficiency and many others. “These are unprecedented times for sure. I would say the silver lining is that digital and AI are more important than ever,” said Gass, “because as you would expect, the industry shifts to a very radical focus on outbacks and cash flow and AI can really help with that. So, what we saw is a change in the focus of where we play AI towards those areas.”

Takeaway 3: Self-service experiences can speed results and streamline IT support.

In the face of disruption, the ability to quickly respond and minimize impact is critical—even for the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, US Bank. To reduce help desk queue times and costs, Donovan Roos, US Bank VP Enterprise Automation, implemented a two-part strategy to provide employees with better service through improved technology and decrease help desk inquires.

The solution—a more robust managed services model and self-service experiences—was put to the test during COVID-19. “We just sent all of our employees to work from home. They have new systems, new network questions,” said Roos. “Our volumes jumped 50% then 100%. Having a tool in place that had already matured to a pretty good extent allowed us to absorb 40% to 50% of that volume when it came through.” Roos went on to say that a deep understanding of pre-existing processes and gaps leads to a heightened self-service experience and improves the productivity of each employee. “If you can do that for the employee or your customers, it will have magnifying effects.”

Takeaway 4: Data empowers teams to act.

To set Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s procurement team up for success, Chief Procurement Officer John Viele had a two-step process. First, he redesigned the structure of the organization by grouping people in specialized categories based of their unique skillsets. He also filled expertise gaps with external support that complemented pre-existing skills.

From there, his focus shifted to data and workflow tracking through a suite of sourcing tools. By measuring the performance of the team through data, he could also manage the process, deliver the expected results and most importantly, promote the value of the group. “I built executive-level dashboards,” said Viele. “I made sure that the executives who were interested could see what this organization is delivering to the bottom line.” Viele demonstrated the cost avoidance and cost savings value of procurement. “When people think of sourcing and procurement, they don’t typically think of technology or leading-edge technology, but quite frankly there’s a lot to be had here. There’s a tremendous amount of information hidden in the data.”

Takeaway 5: An external perspective can optimize your digital transformation and bridge skills gaps.

Many organizations have a skills gap when it comes to implementing and managing complex solutions. This lack of necessary skills limits their digital transformation. But with the right combination of talent and tools, organizations can continue on their journey to cloud. The right teammate can implement tools, such as a management solution, that help balance the skills gaps and simplify your network. 

They can also include your pre-existing investments, such as relatively new routers, in your digital transformation plan, helping decrease the costs of transformation. “Go out and really find that sharp advisor that can steer you, in a consultative manner, on how to build out the business, and how to build out the network and how to do your transformation so that you’re getting the best possible solution for your business,” said ISF Partner and certified outsourcing professional Jeff Cosby.

Looking back to move forward

For many, shifting to the new normal has revealed even more opportunities to enhance their operations. Remote work creates new vulnerabilities without the right security and resiliency strategy in place, and there is still the possibility of pivoting back to a fully remote workforce. Even now, some organizations are still working almost entirely remote. It’s more important now than ever for businesses to balance agility with security, so that regardless of what the future holds your organization can make a seamless transition. Take a moment to pause and reflect on what your organization has done well, and where you have an opportunity to improve. Reflection helps differentiate between short-term fixes based on digital disruption and long-term solutions that can be woven into your day-to-day operation for a greater efficiency.

Adapt to new ways of working by integrating AI-infused technology foundations with virtualized, agile methods and practices.

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