The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lot of IT executives dealing with major disruptions and being unable to predict what changes IT will endure on the other side of this world-wide health crisis. Aside from supporting work-from-home initiatives, rolling out digital initiatives, and meeting rising ecommerce demands, CIOs must take a critical look at the past several months to determine what projects they should acquire to ensure their IT infrastructure can meet the needs of a rapidly changing future.
Here, IT leaders share how they are working to futureproof their organizations’ infrastructure to prepare for a post-pandemic world.
Supporting remote work long term — and embracing automation
Shipping and logistics company H&M Bay is preparing for a business future in which employees might be required to work remotely. They are building on IT investments the company began making in 2019, according to John Walker, IT director at the company. Last year, H&M Bay began migrating to a Citrix Gateway platform, which consolidates remote access infrastructure to provide single sign-on across all applications, enabling users to access any application from any device. Due to the pandemic, H&M invested more money and resources into the shift to Citrix Gateway to enable employees to work remotely with desktops identical to what they have in the office, using thin clients connected via their home internet connections.
That, along with the use of voice over IP (VoIP) phones, “saved us when work from home was thrust upon us with no warning,” Walker stated. IT and business management at many companies assumed shifting their organizations to remote working wouldn’t cause any problems, he says, but they failed to understand the limitations of virtual private networks (VPNs) designed for a handful of people.
Additionally, H&M Bay is expanding its remote work program to provide ways for employees to print and scan documents from home using a custom-built transportation management system (TMS). “The areas we are focusing on now are those that required human contact; opening the mail, scanning into work queues,” Walker says. “With that final piece in place we will be better ready for the next isolate-at-home order in Maryland if it should come this fall.”
Turning to hyperconvergence — and tightening security
Artesia General Hospital is launching a new hyperconverged infrastructure that enables the organization to respond quickly to changes in demand for storage and computing power. Artesia’s IT team can now acquire new virtual desktops and respond to demand for resources in minutes, says CIO Eric Jimenez. “As I listen to other rural hospital IT departments struggle through the pandemic, we were able to start planning for our future,” Jimenez says.
Cybersecurity is another key focus for Artesia General Hospital. “The protection of the patient data is important to patient care,” Jimenez says. Artesia has invested in security technology to protect itself and patient data. For example, it has implemented a product from Darktrace that uses artificial intelligence to help fight cybercrime. The platform, “modeled on the human immune system,” according to the company, is a self-learning technology that detects novel attacks and insider threats at an early stage.
Shifting key business processes to the cloud
Diebold Nixdorf, a provider of financial and retail technology, began an effort to transform its processes via the cloud in 2019, with the primary goal of modernizing business applications to improve efficiency and deliver better services to customers and employees.
The company is greatly accelerating the effort this year in preparation of a post-pandemic world. The initiative “will help our company rationalize a myriad of legacy applications built up over the years, migrate workloads to the cloud, and maximize collaboration,” says Julian Sparkes, senior vice president and chief digital officer.
Also shifting to the cloud are EPM, which helps plan, budget, forecast, and report on business performance, as well as consolidate and finalize financial results; CPQ, which streamlines processes such as product selection, configuration, pricing, quoting, margin analysis, and approval and submission of orders; and HCM, which connects every human resource process, including talent management, workforce management, and payroll, with ERP/EPM. This initiative is projected to save the company about $50 million of incremental savings through 2023.
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