Kathy Gibson reports on the Dell Technologies Harness your Digital Future Virtual Summit – The decisions you take in times of crisis, like the current pandemic, will determine whether your organisation will be successful in the future or not.

Santhosh Rao, senior director analyst at Gartner, points out that the actions racing drivers adopt in the turns are the most vital, and businesses also have to judge their actions in the business turns.

The long-term viability and sustainability of the organisation is based on the decisions they take in the turns.

Some leaders won’t make big decisions until clear trends emerge, some go to cost optimisation immediately. But the leaders understand their own turns, capitalise on opportunities and forge ahead.

Companies have to ensure business continuity in the face of crisis, Rao says. “Remember, it is not just one risk you are talking about – there are three main risks.”

The market risk is probably the biggest. Companies need to figure out if they can create a viable product and market it.

Credit risk is the second: will the company have a liquid cash flow to keep the door open?

The third is the operational risk in the face of external factors.

Coping with operational risk comes down to how well the organisation is structured, Rao says.

Operational continuity is not an IT operation on its own, but rings together all parts of the organisation.

“A tiger team is formed to take crisis decisions,” Rao says. “Companies need to have a crisis management team ready in case of crises.”

The impacts of Covid-19 include the challenge faced by organisations around continuity of operations as employees are stranded in various locations with uncertain return dates.

Immediately, companies need to source digital collaboration tools with security control and network support.

Later, they should develop a digital workplace strategy and use technologies to automate tasks.

Another impact is the dramatic changes in market demand that are putting organisations under huge stress.

Right now, companies need to engage customers and partners through the digital channel to maintain sales activities.

Later, they need to develop digital products, new channels and business models to increase business resilience.

A further impact is confusing data, or lack of data, from unverified sources, leading to ill-informed divisions, escalating employee anxiety and making organisations unprepared for rebound and growth.

An immediate action is to establish a single source of truth and communicating that to employees.

Later, companies should contribute to data-for-good programmes to improve data literacy and increase adoption of more analytics tools.

Saving costs is a big issue for IT decision-makers.

Rao points out that the focus is on the infrastructure and operations (I&O) budget, the IT budget and the business unit budgets.

When it comes to I&O, right now, CIOs can look at WAN optimisation, leveraging new consumption models and third-party maintenance. In the longer-term, public cloud could be an option.

In terms of IT savings, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and ITRO can be considered. CIOs can also look at chargeback premiums for non-standard tiered services, and automating service provisioning. In the long-term, financial operations (finops) could be worth looking at.

Business units can look to citizen development, and to right-size their RPO and RTO. Later on they can start deploying software as a service (SaaS) and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for better productivity.

Cost management can’t be ignored, and is about more than just keeping the lights on – it’s about creating new business opportunities.

This should start with cost-cutting, with immediate short-term reductions. The next step is cost optimisation which involves programmatic, structured improvements that lead to structure spend optimisation.

The final step is value optimisation, together with business value-driven stakeholder partnerships.

Gartner offers the following advice to companies planning to digitally transform before the next crisis:

  • Move towards a perimeter-less work environment;
  • Leverage the scalability and elasticity of the cloud;
  • Automate selected call centre functions by accelerating deployment of virtual assistants and chatbots;
  • Automate business processes by deploying robotic process automation; and
  • Use technology to create new revenue streams.