The pandemic thrust companies’ Information Technology departments into the spotlight and that shift is a wise long-term strategy to maintain business continuity.
IT was previously used for support roles (tech, troubleshooting, streamlining) but leadership has looked to IT for strategic guidance, best practices, and decision-making to get them through this economically challenging time.
One survey reports a whopping 79% of IT professionals expect IT to take on a bigger role within their organization moving forward.
In effect, the unsung heroes in IT are now rightfully claiming their space as the new problem-solvers for organizations. Here, we explore how these tech gurus are doing it.
At the height of initial COVID-19 lockdowns last June, Arizona-based technology firm Insight Enterprises polled IT professionals in North America working at firms with at least 1,000 employees for its 2020 Insight Intelligent Technology Pulse: The Impact of Covid-19 on Business Readiness report.
They wanted to know how big of a role IT played in deploying fully remote workforces, if they experienced any hurdles, and how many of them had business continuity plans in place.
The findings underscore IT’s vital role in keeping companies agile and responsive when problems arise:
This data reinforces the concept that a company’s ability to survive a crisis depends on its ability to innovate. And during the pandemic, IT departments were called on to innovate at an entirely new level they had experienced before.
Here, we talk with Brent Wettengel, Director of Information Technology at EBI, about how IT’s role in organizations has shifted for the better and how they are helping companies prioritize needs in the future.
How has the role of IT changed over the past year?
Before the pandemic, we were managing most of the staff from an office setting which was much easier with all the staff being on the same network at the office. Once the pandemic went into full swing we had to pivot and set up all our staff to work remotely with VPN devices which changed the networking landscape. Remote IT tools were crucial in making sure that IT could service all employees remotely and making sure the employees’ home internet was sufficient to support working from home.
How prepared were you to step into this new role?
EBI did not foresee something like a pandemic that would affect the company the way it did. However, because of our Business Continuity Plan we had already previously set up, we were able to act on that plan and get everyone up and running successfully.
The biggest challenge was sourcing equipment as every other company was also trying to source laptops, webcams, and VPNs in order to support remote work as well. Communication between the staff and IT went smooth as we utilized Microsoft Teams for communication so we could address any issues that arise quickly.
What makes IT especially poised to become strategic planners and problem-solvers for companies?
Being able to think outside the box to make sure that the staff had all the equipment they needed to work remotely. Furthermore, we had already started to plan before the pandemic to get all our employees set up on laptops instead of desktops for business continuity. We did not think that we would be setting users up to work remotely because of a pandemic, but due to our business continuity plan we were able to achieve this goal.
How has IT had to collaborate with other departments to pull through the pandemic and beyond? What role did technology play in this?
Before the pandemic, most technology environments were designed for employees working out of an office with a small workforce that was working remotely. Once the pandemic started, information technology departments/leaders had to very quickly rearchitect infrastructure to allow for most of the business to work remotely. Typically, these types of configurations get designed, tested, validated, and implemented which takes some time. However, time was not on our side regarding state and federal restrictions with employees being able to come into the office.
Going through this process really brought home the fact that not only can a business be affected by a pandemic, but it can face another unforeseen scenario. Therefore, it’s extremely important to establish a business continuity plan within the business and with management to effectively leverage technologies and processes to keep the employees safe and the business running.
According to that Insight survey, one of the biggest takeaways for IT departments is they will need to add health and safety initiatives to their investments. IT is no longer responsible only for support services, but company leadership is already looking to IT to source technologies that can protect employees’ health and safely bring them back to a brick-and-mortar office. Here are the health and safety technologies IT is being asked to budget for:
An additional 33% are considering a solution that can aggregate and analyze all the data from those devices.
Just as our EBI IT team innovated its business continuity plan to pivot during the pandemic, our medical technology experts did the same when responding to businesses’ employee health and safety needs. The result is EBI Workplace Health and Safety, an end-to-end solution that provides all the health and safety technologies IT departments are being asked to locate and pairs them with a central data repository and analytics engine for collected data. These analytics give employers the insights they need to make critical business decisions to keep workplaces open and operational.
Most importantly, EBI WHS answers for all the new priorities and expanded responsibilities being asked of IT. If that department is being asked to become the new problem-solvers, this is the tool that helps them deliver health and safety answers to future-proof their organization.
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo here.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.