If you are not forward-thinking in IT, you are quickly falling behind. This current COVID-19 virus situation has been a clear and bold reminder that thinking ahead has many financial benefits, especially in Information Technology. Utilizing the cloud, security, and collaboration tools are three key areas that reap benefits from advanced planning.
The future of IT is moving to the cloud. Organizations that made the decision to move to the cloud months ago are reaping efficiency as workers perform their duties remotely with ease. Applications and files running from the cloud save capital budget dollars by not having to spend money for equipment on site.
It is not too late to make decisions to prepare for what lies ahead. When researching information technology, most experts will share that going to the cloud is the way of the future. At this point, files, applications, and processing are all available via the internet. There will continue to be needs for certain pieces of hardware like firewall, switches, wireless network, printers, and workstations. An opportune time to consider moving services to cloud is when existing warranties and contracts expire; however, in the wake of this current pandemic, many organizations may find their legacy solutions have hampered them so much that the need to make corrective actions sooner.
As scams are at an all-time high with the COVID-19 situation, security remains on the forefront of our minds. There are many actions that can be taken to make an environment more secure, but few are as important as MFA (Multi-factor Authentication). Although hardware and software protection has increased dramatically, scams still get through from time to time.
MFA is customary and expected whenever you perform banking transactions. Matter of fact, you will not find a bank around that will facilitate internet activity without some type of MFA in place. When I give to churches, I receive a six-digit code via text to ensure I am who I am before sending funds electronically.
As organizations move to the cloud, they increase their flexibility and gain the ability to work nearly anywhere in the world. But this agility needs to go hand in hand with authentication security to ensure that the person accessing your data from a coffee shop or even another country is indeed who they say they are. MFA is one of the easiest ways to add this additional layer of security and is a key security item now and into the future.
The virus situation has a good number of workers performing their duties remotely. This has created a large need for collaboration tools. Most organizations thrive when team members are communicating effectively and communication occurs more effectively with visual presence. There are many tools that help with this effort, but most organizations are already licensed for Microsoft Teams which can do anything from instant messaging to acting as a full-scale phone system and communication platform. Forward thinking organizations are on board and have made video communication a natural, everyday occurrence.
Going beyond just video conferences and meetings, many tools such as Microsoft Teams enable real-time collaboration on documents by shared file storage, chat, and real-time coauthoring of documents.
Even as we all look hopefully towards the end of the current stay-at-home orders, many organizations will be cautious about bringing their staff back on premise and take very slow and measured approaches. Many school districts are opting to finish the school year by remote instruction only, which will extend the need for remote work and flexible hours for many families.
Prior to this current situation, many organizations may have avoided remote work because they felt ill prepared or in some cases even distrustful. Having been forced through this time, many organizations will feel better equipped for remote work and recognize the advantages. Many employees will have seen the benefits of a better work-life balance as well as actually being able to focus and work on tasks without constant interruptions. It will be possible to retain great staff members who need to move out of state to take care of family or for a spouse’s job. It also opens the door to hiring people that live elsewhere. While most sites will be returning to onsite offices and activities, remote work is here to stay.
In conclusion, what a great time to start planning for the future. We are living through the strongest reason in our lifetime to plan ahead. Use this experience to encourage those on your team to make decisions that will carry you effectively through the next large challenge.