Industries across the globe have been enormously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — in some cases irrevocably. Information technology (IT) is one field that has faced unprecedented challenges, with so many businesses relying on onshore, nearshore, and offshore developers — and their solutions — to guide them through remote work and other technological measures.
But this isn’t the only challenge IT professionals must deal with because of the global pandemic. With a weakened economy and despite the need for technology, many of these professionals are still facing job loss and job shortage.
The Remote Transition
Let’s start with the most obvious: IT has been pivotal for the transition to remote work. Businesses need technology and solutions that allow people to keep up with their essential job functions outside of an office setting. In some cases, the demand for IT has been so great that in-house specialists can’t keep up.
One way to reduce the burden is to outsource some of the tasks to an outside provider. This will free up your in-house team (if you have one) and give it the time to perform core business functions, while your outsourcing team handles the overflow during exceptionally chaotic times.
The economic downturn has left many businesses with no choice but to cut certain resources and functions. IT could be on the chopping block while organizations reevaluate their business structures and determine which services are essential. But it’s a mistake to cut IT entirely when it’s more important than ever before to some degree.
One way to cut costs while still retaining talent is to provide training to your existing staff so that you can hire fewer staff to perform the tasks you need. Another solution is, again, to outsource projects to outside teams or freelancers. This tends to be cheaper than having full-time IT specialists, and it’s even more cost-effective if you send your projects overseas to nearshore or offshore location with a developing economy.
With so many moving parts and everyone scrambling to keep everything in order during this strange and difficult time, it can be difficult to maintain efficiency and productivity. This is in large part due to the fact that businesses had to make such a sudden shift to remote work during the tumult. IT, too, may have suffered from a lack of efficiency — but it doesn’t have to remain that way.
There’s no easy fix for this problem. But clear communication and a plan in place will allow you to streamline your efforts and help ensure that you have a system for coordinating processes. Make sure you inform everyone about how to report issues and request assistance.
The Need for Specialized Talent
The IT landscape is constantly changing, and COVID has only increased the demand for niche and specialized skills to accommodate new styles of working and business goals. Businesses will need to seek out individuals with a deep knowledge of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, blockchain, data science, and other technical skills.
As discussed above, business leaders might provide opportunities for workers to upskill. Meanwhile, IT professionals should spend this time learning new skills to boost their hiring potential.
A lack of in-person contact can make communication more difficult. But now, IT professionals have a real opportunity to facilitate stronger communication both within and outside your organization. Many organizations have come to rely on platforms like Zoom, and there are many other alternatives available as well. An IT provider can also build you a custom platform suited to your specific needs.
IT providers can also create tools for disseminating information, such as intranets, to share updates on your company’s efforts.
Understandably, many people feel apprehensive about the chaos and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. But for any initiatives to work — COVID-related or otherwise — you need to have company buy-in.
In order to get as many employees on board as possible, you’ll need to communicate your efforts clearly, explaining, for example, why you’re investing in certain technologies, IT point people, and more. You should also describe the rationale behind these decisions and how you expect them to affect the wider business objectives.
With so many people accessing your programs and servers from remote locations, they’re more susceptible to cyberattacks. You’ve likely heard of Zoombombing, but cybercrime can extend far beyond seemingly harmless pranks. The fear of hackers exploited weaknesses in your systems is not unfounded.
Work with an IT team specializing in cybersecurity to pinpoint and repair any vulnerabilities in your systems. But that’s not the only role IT professionals need to play in cybersecurity. Business leaders should also discuss how IT specialists can educate their staff — remotely, of course — on how to stay safe during COVID-19 and beyond.
Given the unpredictability of the pandemic and its effects, it may feel difficult to look ahead in terms of IT. Should there be full-time positions for specialists? Should you outsource? Which technologies will no longer be useful in a post-pandemic world? Which ones should continue? These are only some of the questions business leaders and IT specialists themselves are asking.
Planning, even despite uncertainty, is essential. You’ll need to account for multiple scenarios, of course. This is something IT specialists and business leaders should work on together, considering the implications of various possibilities.
Technology is critical for businesses weathering this pandemic. Specialists who can create and implement solutions are also essential for businesses surviving truly unprecedented circumstances. While there are plenty of challenges, IT professionals can use them as an opportunity to innovate and create an entirely new way of working.