Eight Challenges IT Managers Will Face in 2021
Facilitating a hybrid work model, managing the security of corporate data, ensuring the physical and mental well-being of workers are the priorities related to the pandemic that IT leaders must respond to this year.
After the tumultuous events of last year, IT professionals will face new challenges in the workplace in 2021. Just as there was no roadmap for moving remote work overnight in early 2020, today there is no roadmap for a full-scale return to the office. In the coming months, most companies plan to implement a hybrid model, in which workers are partly present in person and partly remotely.
In addition to laying the technical foundation for a new workplace, IT leaders face other pandemic-related challenges, some exceptional and related to this era of remote collaboration, others traditional, such as balancing budgets and hiring talent.
Here is an overview of how the priorities of IT leaders have changed since last year: adoption of new technologies, digital transformation, priority in hiring, culture of the workplace. Some IT leaders explain how their companies will adapt to meet the biggest challenges.
Facilitate a Hybrid Work Model
Companies are evaluating what the return to the workplace will be like, and post-pandemic logistics will need to take into account the safety of employees, both physical and mental.
Joe Lennon, CTO of the Workvivo communication platform, says that adaptation to remote work will continue in the near future and may cause people psychological pressures that require attention.
“The long-term impact of working from home is coming to the surface now, and the social capital of office work is running out. In this new configuration, someone feels exhausted, isolated or has difficulty finding a balance between work and private life. We all need to find ways to recreate workplace culture and office dynamics online so employees feel connected and engaged. We want to make sure that employees understand and feel part of the corporate culture and in line with our goals, so that they can work effectively and satisfactorily with this new model.”Joe Lennon, CTO of the Workvivo
Protect the “Hybrid” Company
Mark Angle, CIO of OneStream Software, says his company, like most IT companies, will continue to embrace virtual work after the pandemic. The challenge is how to protect the company’s data regardless of where its workforce is located, without employees feeling in control or someone monitoring them.
“Whenever we start developing a solution, we wonder how it will make life easier for employees by allowing them to be productive. We’ve been thinking about these issues for months and strive to anticipate what’s to come, ”explains Angle. “ All technology leaders need to think about revenue generation first and cost savings second. We need to understand how to help our employees navigate the process of returning to normal, which is unpredictable but must happen smoothly enough to be able to handle the unexpected. “
Peter Zornio, Emerson Automation Solution of Chief Technology Officer, says his cybersecurity concerns include ransomware and the inherent vulnerabilities of a hybrid workplace.
“ In 2021, companies must undertake an honest assessment of the resilience of their technologies and supply chains from a security perspective. Protecting against ransomware and other malicious code requires new approaches and skills to keep pace with cutting-edge technologies that can support hybrid and open source environments.”Peter Zornio, Emerson Automation Solutio
Reverse The IT 80/20 Scenario
Will Keegan, Chief Technology Officer of Lynx Software Technologies, says companies were prepared to handle a situation where about 20% of staff could work remotely and the remaining 80% in the office. In 2020 the scenario was reversed.
This change has led to a greater mixing of personal and business data on remote machines, and hackers have taken advantage of it. Protecting these mixed systems will be a tall order in 2021.
Companies will also need to monitor corporate resources while allowing backups, updates, protection and the ability to disable resources remotely, ensuring the proper functioning of the work environment.
Renewing Skills for Accelerated Digital Roadmaps
Kim Huffman, CIO of Elastic, says the pandemic accelerated the evolution of business practices once IT completed the shift to remote operations and rethought how best to support technology needs and employee well-being. This was a theme already present to IT leaders in 2020, and this year will enhance the impact of accelerating digital transformations, particularly with regard to the skill combinations needed for success.
“The business priority for 2021 is now moving beyond multi-year digital transformation efforts towards innovation of the digital business model, which focuses on speed, flexibility and agility, ” says Huffman. “ The rapid migration to the cloud and the focus on time-to-value have created an unexpected shift in the skills IT leaders seek. In 2021, in addition to technical skills, it will be a priority to find people capable of promoting change management, as the composition of the workforce evolves and the technology it requires evolves with it ”.Kim Huffman, CIO of Elastic
Guarantee 24/7 Availability
“A year filled with uncertainty has led to people demanding greater stability in the systems they need to work remotely, “said Rob Zelinka, CIO of Jack Henry and Associates. “ And this year these needs will be confirmed ”.
“We live in a world where systems are expected to be 100% available 24/7,” says Zelinka. “There are no bonus points for 100% uptime. Anything less the company puts on forces the company to rely on the trust gained over the years of its customers. We prefer to leverage this confidence in investing in additional products and services to help our customers achieve the results they expect”.Rob Zelinka, CIO of Jack Henry and Associates
Prevent and Fight Burnout
After a difficult year in which a demanding work environment has been one of the few certainties, IT teams are facing a state of fatigue. It is likely to get worse in 2021. Even if some people return to the office, most companies will continue to require more IT support for distributed employees. To adapt, Check believes IT leaders need to be proactive and consider the needs of their peers, who will continue to feel pressured.
To help combat predictable team burnout, IT leaders need to choose mentors, people they trust, and create a support system that encourages collaboration. Department managers also need to give their teams the flexibility to get away from work when needed and constantly monitor their employees to ensure their personal and mental health is a priority. IT is filled with frequent high-stress, high-risk discussions, and a good leader will know how to manage these situations effectively to limit the stress as much as possible. Teams must be leading to overcome future challenges, without being crushed by pressure.