April 04, 2020

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Doubling down on digital transformation during the coronavirus pandemic - ITworld

By Clint Boulton March 25, 2020 7 0

As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, paralyzes businesses and society worldwide, it’s tempting to backburner digital strategy amid the sharp uptake in business continuity and resiliency efforts. Don’t do that: Rather, accelerate business transformation efforts now to put yourself in better position after the pandemic passes, say experts and CIOs.

“You have to avoid the tendency to slash and burn your transformation and revert back to your traditional working model, which is human nature,” Steve Bates, global leader of KPMG’s advisory center of excellence, tells CIO.com.

From the dot-com bust to 9-11 to the 2008 financial crisis, disruptions have stymied digital strategies. CIOs even have a cost-cutting playbook that starts with hardware haircutting and elimination of new projects, according to Forrester Research. But organizations that contained costs during past disruptions felt pressure from companies that took a pro-investment approach when the global economy rebounded.

The bull case for digital innovation

Today, with 80 percent of revenue growth hinging on digital offerings and operations by 2022, IT leaders should continue transforming their operating models, according to KPMG research. Bates argues that companies that continue to invest in their digital strategy, while balancing short-term efforts with long-term measures, will emerge from this pandemic more competitive. Sound models that incorporate the best people, processes and technologies remain critical in good times and bad.

“All roads lead back to the IT operating model,” Bates says. “There is going to be pent-up demand and when this period ends there is going to be a tidal wave of spending and you want to be in position to take advantage of it.” In short, now is not the time to turn the spigot off to significant tech initiatives.

To ensure that he could support 10,000 employees, Equinix CIO Milind Wagle set up a “virtual tech bar,” a Zoom-enabled tech help desk that is available worldwide, 24-7. He also created productivity monitoring dashboards that track everything — from how many messages employees send, to how many meetings they set up, to the number of code check-ins they commit. Equinix also began using Zoom to host daily “gupshups,” virtual water coolers where employees can check-in for casual conversations.

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