Skip to main content
Exploring what’s next in tech – Insights, information, and ideas for today’s IT and business leaders

A look back: IT lessons from the pandemic

Resilience and the right mix of platforms are redefining digital transformation for the post-pandemic age.

In the spring of 2020, everyone was thrown into crisis management mode, including IT management. Fortunately, most businesses adapted well, all things considered, but when will things go back to normal, or at least how they used to be before the pandemic? Or should they go back to normal at all?

It turns out that a modified form of crisis management has a lot of benefits. We call these benefits dynamism and resilience. In more concrete terms, this translates into a future more hybrid than anyone expected. A near laser-like focus on building better resiliency into IT systems. A new business operating model that is edge-centric, data-driven, and cloud-enabled.

These are a few of the highlights we uncovered in a revisit of "Nine steps to the new normal," a guide to navigating the pandemic we published at the onset of the crisis.

The premise of the article was that an IT response to the pandemic demanded both an immediate and longer term crisis management plan.

Conceptual loops, not independent entities

We organized our nine-step adoption strategy around two sets of elements, one for crisis management (Triage, Adjust, Stabilize, Sustain) and one set we referred to as "building the bridge to a new normal" (Observe, Align, Design, Transform, Optimize). This second set represented the elements critical to the progress of IT teams tasked with developing an organization's cloud and digital transformation strategy.

Please read: Nine steps to the new normal

Now, as the world moves toward a new, post-pandemic reality, albeit with serious setbacks, it's time to reappraise our original nine-step adoption strategy. We collected feedback from customers around the world that, like you, needed to turn on a dime and then re-tune IT systems and strategy for a world turned, perhaps permanently, upside down.

The two sets of elements for our nine-step strategy are not mutually exclusive and independent, chronological steps but rather loosely integrated phases. They are better understood as conceptual loops that allow for elements of crisis management to further an organization's digital transformation and vice versa.

Resilience is critical

First off, it's important to recognize how well organizations worldwide reacted to the pandemic. Their responses are leading a realignment of IT strategies for future crisis management and digital transformation. Driving both sets of strategies is the notion of resilience and its significance to crisis management.

"Are we resilient enough?" That question became the rubric for business planning as organizations worked to ensure they would not get caught in a pandemic-like situation again. To build in better resiliency became a continual test loop for both the business operations and transformation teams.

The interconnectedness of everything

The most important lesson for many organizations was that their disaster recovery plans were inadequate and rarely applicable to the pressures and challenges of the pandemic. Businesses realized that their current business models were just not resilient enough. It is that realization that is leading a trend to make employees more productive at the edge—or, put another way, from their homes.

Perhaps the broader point is that the pandemic is forcing organizations to redefine business processes for both their employees and their customers. All the experiences that are included in this evolving redefinition—security, intelligence, communications—are leading to an understanding of how much their employees work at the edge along with most of their customer interactions.

Please read: What's all the buzz about swarming learning?

The growing realization is that all these experiences and IT components are linked together in something akin to a domino effect: An organization's cloud strategy is related to its network strategy, and its network strategy is related to its edge strategy, and its edge strategy is related to its security strategy. All are part of one intrinsically related and integrated hybrid cloud model that is the new IT architecture of digital transformation.

Constant observation: The new action point

Throughout the many months of the pandemic and beyond, organizations have remained in a form of crisis management mode. The Observe step of our original nine steps model has become an infinite loop that integrates into every phase of core IT operations management and digital transformation.

Constant observation of the other teams' strategies and responses is now the action point for all teams as the strategies are continuously informed, revised, and updated through this process of continuous observation.

The relationship between two interacting teams has become two speed teams working in a kind of dynamic, lockstep relationship with each other. While ensuring resiliency remains the status quo for core IT operations, the DevOps transformation teams move forward based on assumptions extrapolated from observing and then integrating the new, more resilient business processes introduced by the counterparts in business ops.

The right cloud mix

Perhaps the most obvious business impact of the pandemic is the long-term impact of work from home. One trend stands out: The future is becoming more hybrid.

Organizations are now making choices based on the right mix of platforms for their businesses. Increasingly, those choices are being driven by leveraging public cloud or colocation for most applications and services and an on-premises private cloud for more complex, business-critical applications.

This adoption of a multicloud approach is redefining the previous concept of hybrid cloud to a more loosely defined and more agile definition.

Redefining the customer experience

At the heart of this deepening understanding of the hybrid model is an awareness that redefining the customer experience is the true driver of digital transformation.

Please read: Transform your customer experience to unleash your company's full potential

Central to this understanding is that cloud is a major component of transformation but not the whole game. It is a key component of an emerging business operating model for IT that can be characterized as edge-centric, data-driven, and cloud-enabled. It is the connectivity among these three components that is another driver leading to hybrid cloud adoption.

How to digitally engage with customers became a crisis management issue for many businesses during the pandemic. One challenge for businesses was how to capture the data from online transactions. Capturing and analyzing that data using AI to gain new, intelligent insights into customer behaviors, spending, and other habits is a leading priority for businesses of all sizes.

A more hybrid future

So, how will our understanding of hybrid cloud affect hybrid cloud strategies moving forward? Based on our customer feedback and expert opinion, the consensus leads in two related directions:

  • Moving quickly to drive edge experiences central to redefining the customer and employee experience.

  • Modernizing IT infrastructure and moving to the right mix of platforms and applications.

Given these trends, Gartner forecasts worldwide IT spending will increase to $4 trillion this year, an increase of 9 percent over 2020, as organizations realize the importance of good IT teams and technology upgrades to building resilience and digital transformation.

In the final analysis, digital transformation is an interconnected experience. The outcome of this interconnectedness of all components is the new, highly resilient business operating model. Achieving that end state is both the goal and the way to realize the full value of these processes.

Summing up, was the nine-step model wrong? No, the steps all applied but not chronologically or in any direct one-to-one way. In retrospect, the nine steps of the original model became conceptual loops that organically form in relationship to each other and in response to changing events and circumstances.

The No. 1 priority for organizations is being able to deal with a crisis—this one and the next. Resilience is critical to digital transformation. Ensuring dynamism and resiliency is a main, if not the major change in the new business operating model. The adoption of a more hybrid cloud model than previously anticipated, and expanding edge architectures, is the way to implement that dynamism and resiliency.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.