It is a welcome relief that there are a number of very promising Covid-19 vaccines in the works. But this good news isn’t a sign that we can relax, Covid-19 is still a reality and the logistics of manufacturing and distributing enough vaccine for everyone is decidedly non-trivial.
There is also a mistaken impression that once the majority are vaccinated, the world will snap back, figuratively, to January 2020 with the same expectations, plans, and motivations. But the reality is that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s course and there is no going back. Instead, we need to deal with the reality of the world in front of us, changed greatly by the pandemic.
Covid has disrupted long term plans
This is also true of the world of technology. The long term strategic plans laid down for the next 2-5 years in early 2020 by customers and vendors have been thoroughly disrupted and replaced by short-term tactical planning that takes into account immediate needs. In 2021 the emphasis will continue to be on short term planning, due to Covid-19, economic uncertainty, and political disruptions.
There is a huge temptation to point to an event or date and say that things will just return to normal on that day. The announcements of promising vaccines, the turning of the year, the swearing in of a new American president, January Brexit, none of these things are oft wished for decisive breakpoints, just more challenges in the road.
Technology buyers need to be flexible in thinking
Corporate technology buyers need to remain tactical and flexible in their thinking and planning. Trends like work from home are here to stay, with companies seeing the money they can save by not having to maintain expensive office space. The pandemic kicked off a huge surge in security and has finally abolished the antiquated idea of perimeter-based security. Automation, robotics, and AI/ML have all gotten extra attention as companies learn to do business differently.
Technology buyers, practitioners, and yes vendors need to help set the tone that going back to the old strategic plan is not a good way moving forward, considering the changes wrought on the social and technological landscape. The time for long term strategic planning will come again. But for now until the world truly settles down, possibly in 2022, companies should think tactically.
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What technology is needed to adapt? The stop-gap measures used to enable remote work and productivity, are those really the permanent solutions? Or do they need to be looked at and done with more thought and planning and a greater eye for security? If we are going to close offices, or support less people in buildings, how do we re-allocate budget and resources to support the new normal?
These questions can be answered, but the technology team, lines of business, and the C-suite all need to be on the same page, with none of them regretfully gazing longingly at the 2020 plan with an eye on going back. Only then can businesses be flexible enough to thrive during this time of change