Article - IT

The Overnight Switch to Remote Work

By Colin Cosell|18th November 2022

IT Departments in 2022: Remote Work and Digital Transformation

If there’s one department, regardless of industry or location, who felt the immediate effects of the pandemic, it’s IT. But those effects manifested themselves into enormous pressure to adapt, pivot, and transform at an exceptional rate. The overnight switch to remote work led to a myriad of connectivity and security concerns. Essential, on-site workers to the need for contactless safety precautions. According to a Gartner report, the sudden shift to digital resulted in accelerated digital transformation journeys that diminished from 5–10-year plans to mere months. And lest we forget the increased need for providing end-user support through it all. So, how exactly did IT departments pull all of this off in what was their dizzying (and terrifying) “New Normal?” 

Let’s begin with the enablement and support of the workforce, because it goes without saying that there was no greater need for organizations to survive a global lockdown. It’s well documented how the remote workforce became a dominant part of the “New Normal” in 2020 and 2021. However, it’s one thing to assume everyone has a laptop and internet access at home. It’s an entirely different can of worms when any variation of those two don’t exist or are strained. After all, by late March, everyone in the family unit was home, using the same internet, and, in many instances, using the same computers for work and home schooling. All of this is under the pretense that there’s a home computer or internet access to begin with, something not necessarily true for employees in impoverished countries. And, to top it all off, there’s the issue of cybersecurity, as the threat landscape increased by 39% due to remote workers in 2020, according to Forbes. 

IT departments were and are on-call 24/7, but remote work took their capabilities to a whole new level in 2020.  

  • Distributing laptops 
  • Supplying internet 
  • Securing the whole operation  

This was a monumental, if not herculean task. Fortunately, according to a report by Harvard Business Review, IT departments survived this drastic change because they “didn’t have to go it alone, as support from CISOs and other departments such as HR were able to fill in the blanks and support their security and employee wellbeing efforts.” Good thing, too, because Intelligent Automation Network reported: 

“Nearly 26% of IT support teams were overburdened by March of 2020.”
-Intelligent Automation Network

Simultaneously, organizations around the globe found themselves racing against the clock with their digital transformations as the world quickly became more digital, as backed by a report from Amplitude which showed a 75% increase in ecommerce from January- April 2020. 

At the heart of it all, there were the IT departments tasked with updating everything from legacy systems to website interface to cloud migration. For most, the solution lied in company buy-in which was all but assured as it was viewed as a paramount expenditure. But all the money in the world wouldn’t ensure the speed that was required, and the IT skillset wasn’t necessarily up to the task. Once again, IT departments needed some assistance so survive this aspect of their “New Normal,” and that assistance came in the form of AI and Automation.  

What Does Today’s “New Normal” Look Like for IT, and How Long Will It Last?

As uncertainty continued to swirl about while vaccines were distributed, 2021 managed to be somewhat less tumultuous for IT departments as the year before, which is largely due to acclimation. But this would set the stage for what has become the actual “New Normal” in 2022, as digital transformation journeys are well underway and vaccinated workers start to trickle back into the office.  

The remote/hybrid workforce is all but fully accounted for, and the transformation/migration journeys have been augmented and accelerated by AI and automation. And so, as IT Departments look to 2023 and beyond, is this the definitive new reality? In the face of economic uncertainty, geopolitical crises, the Great Resignation, and a variety of other ongoing disruptions, it’s difficult to say. Once thing, however, is certain: IT Departments have never been more ready for whatever the future holds. 

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