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COVID-19 and I&O: Now, Next, After

By Tom Bittman | March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Future of WorkFuture of InfrastructureEdgeDriving Cost Optimization Across the EnterpriseDigital BusinessCloudAgility

I hope you’re taking precautions, taking care of your family, friends and community, and following social distancing guidelines. I certainly am. Everyone has a role, some on the front-lines (I am so thankful for our first responders and healthcare workers), to family caregivers. One thing I’m promoting is helping small businesses by using services whenever possible, and paying for some services even when I’m not getting them (my hair is getting longer). And I look forward to the after, when I can use services just a bit more, tip just a bit more, maybe get my hair cut weekly (OK, maybe not that often). Let’s do this together.

At Gartner, it’s all hands on deck providing advice for dealing with current economic conditions, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us plan on blogging more during this time as a way of putting out more advice quickly. I’m going to focus on my area of coverage, infrastructure and operations, especially in areas where I am currently working – edge computing, virtualization, infrastructure choices (such as cloud computing), and Microsoft (I’m currently the vendor lead analyst for Microsoft at Gartner). I also intend to co-author and host some posts from other analysts who can expand the discussion.

For this post, I want to keep this simple, and talk about an approach that I’ll be taking on providing value to our clients – in our research, but also to every reasonable extent in blog posts. In general, I think we will see this across all of Gartner in different ways.

I believe the best value Gartner can provide is to focus on three things right now, in priority order:

1. Now: Immediate Actions Enterprises Should Take

The majority of our time will be spent coming up with advice to help our clients reduce costs, manage costs down to new requirement levels, work with IT vendors (many of which have made significant adjustments to support their customers during this crisis – Microsoft being a perfect example), and manage IT staffing levels and skills. We are working hard to create specific recommendations across I&O, and across Gartner. I will certainly have blog posts that discuss this in more detail in the next few weeks. I expect this will be the majority of our effort – but not all. Especially in times like these, where we can add value is to do what our clients can’t do as they are working hard to adjust and keep the lights on. So we will also invest time in…

2. Next: Prepping For The Turn

We certainly can’t predict how this pandemic will resolve, or when, and we can’t predict how the economy will recover, or when. But we need to make some assumptions in order to be ready for what’s next: It seems probable that the pandemic could be resolved with a vaccine or some other form of epidemiological control. And since the global economy was generally in good shape before this happened, it seems probable that the economy could recover relatively quickly. As we manage the day-to-day through this crisis, as we dim the lights, it’s important that we retain the ability to get back on track, rapidly. Strategic plans that have been put on hold will need to resume. New projects will need to be back in plan. “Prepping for the turn” is a great phrase – because we believe a turn is coming, keeping the lights on during the crisis is not enough – when the turn comes, you want to make that turn and be ready to go. We’ll be doing research to help enterprises prep for and make that turn. We realize that enterprises won’t be able to spend much time on this – so we will. But the turn may not be what we expect…

3. After: The New Normal

COVID-19 has changed the future course of IT. It has changed the course of human culture, at least somewhat. We will need to change our strategies to adjust for a new normal. A couple of things stand out A) When we do the post-crisis analysis, we will find that this is what cloud computing was built to do, and in most cases, it handled drastically changing demand very, very quickly. We’ll also find cases where cloud computing failed. But the ability to ramp up or down quickly will accelerate the move to cloud computing and forms of usage-base pricing. B) Remote work won’t be the only way we do business, but we have created new skills, new expertise, new home offices that didn’t exist before. We won’t be simply going back to the way we did business before. Get ready for a long-term increase in remote work. C) Social distancing is more than standing six feet from the next person. Consumers have increased online shopping, curbside delivery of groceries, structured meal services, and yes, reducing physical interaction when unnecessary. We can expect technologies that enable touchless interfaces or interactions through a smartphone to become more important in the checkout experience, team collaboration, et cetera. We will examine the new normal, and how it will affect enterprise IT strategies going forward.

More later. Stay healthy.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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