With the UK now in the third coronavirus lockdown, organisations are again leaning on IT departments to ensure remote working can continue. It has been nine months since the UK first went into lockdown. Many people were furloughed. Some businesses had to shut down permanently.
One of the big takeaways is that IT departments have shown the effectiveness of remote connectivity and collaboration software to enable employees who are able to work from home, to remain productive.
Nine months is an unusually long time for remote connectivity. Who would have anticipated that the UK would be worse off now than it was at the start of the pandemic?
Thankfully there is now a mass vaccination programme. But IT leaders should look back retrospectively at how to improve remote working, as it is likely to remain a prevalent focus for employers and employees during 2021.
Shift left IT
One thing to consider is the idea of “shift left”. Basically this means any problems that occur, should be fixed at the point it occurs, rather than fed up the chain to the IT support function. Centralised IT support is not sustainable, particular in a situation whenever the vast proportion of employees are working remotely from home.
Many business applications are now delivered as SaaS. Support tends to be part of the service offered by the SaaS providers. If something goes wrong, the end user can, and should, be encouraged to raise the issue directly with the provider, rather than ask IT support.
Whether it is commercial off-the-shelf software or bespoke, CIO should strive to make enterprise applications as intuitive as online shopping or social media sites. People may be moving into different job roles during lockdown; some firms may even be hiring. These people may need to run applications and work with business processes they are unfamiliar with.
Business leaders need to assess whether the way processes are run are overly complicated. Can they be simplified? Some may not require human intervention at all. These are candidates for robotic process automation. But for those where staff are needed, it is imperative that they are made as simple and as familiar to the end user, as possible.
Business strategist Tony Robbins, once said: “Complexity is the enemy of execution.” This year has kicked off with another UK-wide lockdown with no fixed end date. IT leaders will continue to support colleagues to work remotely. But 2021 should also be the year to make enterprise IT more intuitive.