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How business leaders can stay on the offensive in challenging times

February 19, 2021Insights and Outlooks

A defensive business strategy is often the fallback approach for organizations in turbulent times.

Over the past year the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to adopt this mindset. Putting new remote work strategies in place, shifting budgets to compensate for unpredictable revenue and trying to maintain a ‘business as usual’ stance has consumed senior executives across all industries. To grow their customer base and revenues, businesses must now be on the offensive.

This was the topic of a recent roundtable discussion I hosted with several of our partners and customers. Joining me were Jack Danahy, former Senior Vice President of Business Development and Evangelist with managed security leader Alert Logic; Mark Vivian, CEO of Oracle Managed Services provider Claremont; and Philbert Shih, Managing Director of analyst firm Structure Research. Together, we called upon our decades of experience in the IT industry and our experience as leaders during the pandemic to share strategies and technologies companies can deploy to remain on the offensive.

A cloud-y forecast

We all agreed organizations looking to be more aggressive need to have a solid cloud strategy. Phil has followed the cloud and data center market for 20 years and noted that like the 2008/2009 financial crisis, the pandemic has spurred interest in cloud and outsourced infrastructure.

Not everything will go back to the way it was before COVID-19’s onset, he explained. Companies are considering if they need their own data centers, if they want their teams to be working inside a data center during a pandemic-type event or if they’d be better off outsourcing to a third-party provider that can run their IT infrastructure safely and efficiently. Phil firmly believes Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will play a key role in helping companies regain the strategic offensive. MSPs don’t just have economies of scale, he said. They also have economies of expertise, which is extremely important given the need for organizations to pivot.

Simplifying the security approach

As businesses shift more of their infrastructure to the cloud, security will play a key role. For example, the increase in employees working from home creates different security dynamics, Jack noted. IT infrastructures that were once managed on-site now need to be managed remotely. And with more devices being used for both personal and professional applications, new security processes need to be explored.

Jack explained part of the challenge is assuring customers their employees won’t be overwhelmed by extra layers of security now that they’re working remotely. Businesses can have the same security efficiencies they had before in a remote environment.

Keeping the team together

Technology isn’t the only factor organizations need to address to take a more offensive business stance post-pandemic. Remote work is here to stay and ensuring employees feel connected to one another and the company will be more important when they’re not in regular face-to-face contact. Technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom will help, but organizations must take active measures to keep the lines of communication open.

Mark explained how Claremont has used team building activities such as virtual quizzes, virtual walks and a virtual running club to help increase employee interaction. At Aptum, we’ve also noted how important it is to talk to people individually. After all humans are naturally social beings, and when the office environment is removed, there aren’t opportunities for spontaneous social encounters. If you haven’t spoken with an employee in a while, take some time and set up a virtual chat to catch up. Mark said Claremont has always been a people business and encouraged a growth mindset amongst employees, but they have upped the ante in the last few months to make sure they’re looking after their people.

We all believe over the next 12 months, more organizations will turn to the cloud to boost scalability, efficiency and security. At Aptum, our customers aren’t focused on any one type of cloud offering. They want cloud solutions that meet their desired business outcomes. We call this Data as InfrastructureTM — the idea you have to design your infrastructure around your data needs, rather than designing your data around the infrastructure you have. We want to make sure people make the right choices for their business by putting the right workloads in the right place at the right time.

To listen to the virtual roundtable, you can find the recording here. And thank you to everyone who participated. It was a thought-provoking and stimulating conversation, the first of what I hope, is a series of more to come soon.

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