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Leading with Certainty During Uncertain Times – Three Priorities for IT Investments Today

The decisions business leaders make are further magnified in times of crisis and disruption, when markets and priorities are constantly shifting and business as usual is anything but.

How can business leaders move forward with certainty amid the constant change and uncertainty created by the current crisis? Although there is no proven playbook, history has shown that even the most disruptive times hold opportunity for companies that can balance the need to react and adapt to changing market conditions while pursuing new avenues of growth and innovation.

This balanced approach is what many of today’s top researchers believe is essential to growth and success. The key is to move forward in progressive phases to address immediate needs while prioritizing investments and initiatives that also prepare the company for challenges and opportunities ahead. 

Following are three phases to assess. Each is designed to bring focus to critical considerations essential to business recovery and resilience today, while helping to reimagine and pursue new possibilities for the future.

Phase 1: Fortify and Stabilize

When a crisis hits, the first priority is to keep business running as smoothly as possible while providing tools and resources employees need to empower and protect them through turbulence. But even as you address these most urgent and critical needs, you should also continue to prioritize improvements and investments that will deliver lasting value for the organization after the crisis ends. 

Critical considerations in this stage might include assessing:

  • What is needed to keep staff safe, connected, and productive?

  • How can you better support and protect employees across new and diverse work environments, including remote and onsite?

  • How can you root out inefficiencies and redundancies in current processes?

  • How can you streamline delivery of value to customers?

  • What’s needed to ensure that core systems and operations stay secure and up and running? 

  • How can you optimize security across newly remote teams?

IT priorities might include:

  • Fortify core systems by securing business critical systems and information

  • Solidify testing processes and procedures and amp up security to reduce vulnerabilities

  • Build resilience and continuity with new and existing tools and a high-quality cloud platform and ensure strong IT governance

  • Reduce costs by eliminating duplicate processes, using automation and leveraging cloud to consolidate systems and infrastructure

  • Explore industry-specific savings opportunities, such as enhanced production capacity planning in manufacturing or self-service software for customer interaction

Phase 2: Rethink and Reinvent

As the pandemic prompts organizations to work differently and explore new opportunities for growth, consider how today’s decisions and investments can help position your organization for success in the future.

Critical considerations in this stage include assessing:

  • How can you empower teams to work more effectively in new and traditional environments?

  • How can you eliminate silos and enhance collaboration across roles, disciplines, departments?

  • How will the crisis and the new reality affect customer needs and expectations?  What processes will be needed to address them?

  • How can you streamline application delivery to offer more value to customers more quickly? 

  • How can you better leverage data to inform decisions and innovation? 

  • What will help you create and capitalize on new opportunities for growth going forward?

IT priorities might include:

  • Assess and address expertise that will be required. Do you have the staff skills and abilities to roll out high priority projects?

  • Incorporate automation across infrastructure and processes, from data center/desktop governance and management to streamlining manual workloads

  • Uncover insights to reveal new growth opportunities and inform business decisions

  • Utilize AI, machine learning, and other next-gen technologies to fuel innovation and enhance customer experiences

Phase 3: Advance and Accelerate Success

Even as you continue to navigate the day-to-day realities of the crisis, you will need to proactively prepare for opportunities and challenges that emerge as the economy and markets evolve. In this stage, you should identify the projects that have provided the greatest value from Phase Two and lay the groundwork to accelerate those successes as the market rebounds.

Critical considerations in this stage might include assessing:

  • How can you empower teams to deliver more value to customers quicker and more consistently?

  • How can you assess and address critical gaps in expertise to pursue new opportunities?

  • How can you improve and optimize processes to fuel innovation and enhance organizational agility?

  • How can you quickly and cost-effectively expand and scale proven processes throughout the organization?

  • How can you speed deployment and time to value for new technology investments?

  • How can you reduce IT complexity and costs and better align resources to support critical strategic goals?

IT priorities might include:

  • Consider outsourcing opportunities to cost-effectively address skill gaps and capability needs

  • Explore Agile and DevOps solutions to accelerate solution development and time to value

  • Speed up development and deployment of critical workflow applications

  • Enhance reporting and visibility to resolve problems quicker and identify opportunities for improvement

  • Improve agility and scalability by migrating systems and operations to the cloud

With business conditions changing rapidly and in ways we never could have imagined only a few months ago, it’s critical to assess how to best prioritize IT investments and initiatives. By proactively and accurately assessing challenges and opportunities, business leaders can better navigate their way through times of crises. What might your organization improve on in this disruptive time?