Flexential Customer Advisory Council Shares Insights about Lessons Learned with COVID-19 and the “New Normal”
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” – Ancient Greek philosopher Plato
When the COVID-19 pandemic exploded across the globe and the subsequent shutdown occurred, businesses, governments, schools and communities needed technology in place to quickly support remote work and keep the economy going. To understand the lessons learned during the coronavirus and how businesses are moving forward to the “new normal”, the leadership team at Flexential recently hosted a virtual roundtable with our Customer Advisory Council.
Flexential’s Customer Advisory Council (CAC), which is comprised of key partners from a wide range of industries, is a forum created where members engage with fellow IT colleagues but it is also a place where Flexential actively consults with and pursues understanding how our customers are future-proofing their organizations and what strategies we can put in place to better serve them. Much of the dialogue during the CAC roundtable was expected about their businesses’ impacts and responses to coronavirus, but some of the viewpoints shared were unique and unexpected.
1. Managing Through Disruption – Productivity Maintained and Increased in Most Organizations
With dynamic, scalable IT infrastructure in place prior to COVID-19 shutdown, the CAC organizations seamlessly transitioned to remote work even in teams where “work from home” (WFH) had not previously been the norm. Supporting the WFH transition were a rapid adoption of security and remote access measures as well as implementing tools such as Slack and Microsoft teams. From a long-term perspective, IT leaders are looking for ways to overcome the impacts resulting from lack of face-to-face collaboration and time with co-workers. Lesson learned – companies with comprehensive IT infrastructure implemented before the pandemic were best positioned to effortlessly shift to remote work from home, maintain business continuity and retain productivity levels. Successful organizations were able to quickly scale out proven solution versus implementing new ones that may have to be “thrown away” post COVID-19.
2. Innovation During the Crisis – New Apps and Delivery Systems Emerge
As businesses searched for ways to serve their customers during these extraordinary times, creativity, “thinking outside the box” and innovation flourished with new technology. Data access was critical to support organizations’ decisions and ability to pivot and invest or reduce smartly. Further, businesses scaled their cloud dynamically and leveraged a mix of public and private cloud to get the flexibility they needed. Lesson learned – Even though innovations are a bright sport and an unexpected outcome, recovery to normal operations is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Data analytics capabilities will continue to be critical over the coming quarters to enable smart decision making.
3. The Employee During COVID-19 – Work-Life Balance is Critical
Overwork and impact of lines blurring between work and home are key considerations for the CAC organizations and Flexential. As employees are concerned about future work and possible reductions in force, many are working harder and not taking time off. Encouraging employees to unplug and use paid time off is essential to avoid burnout. Lesson learned – Providing ample employee support programs, flexibility in office work and promoting meaningful ways (even if small like providing comfortable chairs, WIFI access points, or even more displays) to achieve employee satisfaction will contribute to a sustainable, productive workforce.
Looking to the New Normal – CAC Members’ Polling Responses
As part of the virtual roundtable, we asked the CAC members to weigh in on some key polling questions. When asked if the IT solutions quickly put in place during COVID-19 were temporary or permanent, 50% of the CAC members responded about “about 50/50 temporary or permanent” and the other 50% responded “mostly permanent”. The majority of CAC members said they planned to invest more in “Security/Remote Access”, “Virtual Desktop Services” and “Public and Private Cloud Services” over the coming one to two years based on post-COVID planning efforts. Finally, 60% of CAC members responded that the most important services to have under a single provider, such as Flexential, is “Private Cloud Services (IaaS)”, followed by Colocation and Network services, such as FlexAnywhere™.
As we look forward to the post-coronavirus era, Flexential will continue to consult with CAC members and our customers to understand their business strategies and what specific IT infrastructure will be required to be successful in the “new normal”.