2 items tagged "hybrid"

  • A CIO perspective on the new hybrid organization


    A CIO perspective on the new hybrid organization

    IT leaders are looking at lessons learned from stopgap COVID workplace measures to establish intentional hybrid workplace strategies tailored for long-term success.

    As most CIOs see it, the distributed, hybrid enterprise workforce is here to stay.

    With the Omicron variant extending hybrid or fully remote policies into 2022, most C-suite execs, including CIOs, are recognizing the need to develop longer-term hybrid workplace strategies built around new technologies employees can use to improve collaboration and productivity while balancing work and life circumstances, according to several CIOs interviewed recently.

    These strategies, CIOs expect, will lean on a combination of lessons learned throughout the pandemic, as well as policies around remote work that pre-dated COVID-19. But instituting hybrid workplace strategies as more than a stopgap introduces new challenges.

    “While there is some pre-pandemic experience with hybrid, it is not at the scale we expect it to be post-pandemic. We have to consider the challenges of hybrid meetings where part of the team is on-site and the other part is working remotely,” says Amir Arooni, CIO of Discover Financial Services, headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill.

    Like most enterprises, Discover is evaluating new technologies to improve collaboration beyond Microsoft Teams and Zoom and is rethinking the core business processes and culture of the modern enterprise, including location strategy, leadership, and collaboration, as well as HR policies.

    Evolving hybrid enterprise strategies such as Discover’s offer benefits for employers and employees alike, Arooni says, including a more flexible approach to hiring, an enhanced work-life balance, increased productivity, elimination of time lost commuting, and the ability to maintain social distancing while the pandemic continues.

    But such a big shift in how work gets done does have downsides, Arooni says, noting that a major challenge is assuring inclusion for each employee given the “inherent risk of a disconnect between in-office employees and remote workers. “There is also an increased risk of burnout for fully remote employees who work longer hours, and of colleagues or management missing the signs of burnout that are less visible when remote,” he adds.

    Micromanagement is another delicate area, Arooni notes, as some managers who cannot see their teams have not yet mastered outcome measurements.

    “It will also take intentional effort to build equitable and inclusive cultures that do not favor in-house employees over remote ones; and, where all employees have access to the right tools and technologies to do their jobs. And last, probably there is a need to redesign office space to accommodate both hybrid and in-office workers,” he notes.

    Getting the right mix

    The questions and challenges Discover is addressing are being tackled by most enterprises today. In a recent interview with CIO.com, Honeywell Chief Technology Officer Sheila Jordan spoke of her company’s hybrid workplace policy, which includes three days in the office and two days out of office.

    “Going fully remote is probably good for some small part of the population; working full time in the office is also good for some small part of the population. But people [need] to collaborate at some level and you want to define that amount of time,” says Jordan, who sees offices remaining central to the work experience, even if the office becomes the off-site meeting location and the home becomes the daily office. “There’s going to be this constant flux and what that looks like.”

    The 140-year-old Honeywell employs 110,000 in support of 3 million products, including myriad sensors and materials for commercial buildings. As a huge government/aerospace contractor, Honeywell must adhere to higher security requirements that many other commercial enterprises need not consider.

    Jordan is convinced that workplace changes brought about by the pandemic offer one big silver lining: Collaboration technologies such as Zoom have served as equalizers, instituting more inclusion and diversity in corporate meetings, she says.

    “I like how everyone’s square is the same size. When you’re watching 20 or 30 people on the call, you can see who’s not participating and who’s not engaged, and you can start asking them questions so you can see and really bring in the introverts,” she says. “Everyone’s square is the same size, so I hope that if we go back to the office, we don’t forget about the people on the call.”

    At Jaguar Land Rover, hybrid work policies are likely here to stay, but for certain classes of employees — not, for example, the technicians inside the factories assembling the Land and Range Rovers, says Harry Powell, director of data and analytics at JLR.

    “People like the flexibility it gives and we have the technology to make that happen,” says Powell, cautioning that the hybrid enterprise remains an experiment at JLR and more data and metrics must be gathered to optimize productivity and employee satisfaction.

    Powell, himself a remote worker, has a hunch there will be some downside to product development in a hybrid enterprise. “My suspicion is it will [impact] innovation,” says Powell, who, along with JLR’s CIO, reports to the CFO. “We’re not meeting and discussing ideas in the same free-flowing way, right? Hybrid working is transactional — not conversational.”

    On the upside, the hybrid enterprise gives JLR and many other companies a better card in the war for talent. JLR is headquartered in Whitley, UK.

    The impact of flexibility

    Naturally, leadership’s point of view regarding the hybrid enterprise likely differs by industry. Commercial real estate companies, for instance, may be less inclined to promote a hybrid enterprise that translates into empty downtown parking garages.

    Still, for most companies the hybrid workforce model is here to stay, says Accenture CIO Penelope Prett. “Companies have realized that with the right resources, employees can be productive no matter where they are based and enabling flexible working options can create a more loyal workforce.”

    In a prepared statement to CIO.com on this topic, Prett pointed to Accenture’s own research, which unveiled that 83% of people believe a hybrid working model is optimal. The report, titled “The Future of Work: Productive Anywhere,” was released in April, surveying more than 9,000 workers across 11 countries.

    “It’s not surprising that different employees want to work in different ways. For certain industries such as healthcare, there will always be a need to go into an office, but many companies are realizing that office space is not always essential,” says Prett, who notes that the nature of work itself is changing and training employees on new technologies and processes is far more essential than returning to their physical office.

    “What this means for companies is that traditional ideas on how to keep employees engaged may no longer hold true,” Prett says. “One area that should be a priority for a hybrid workforce to raise both engagement and flexibility is learning new skills. To stay competitive and prepare for the future, companies must upskill their tech talent quickly and across the enterprise.”

    Accenture, for one, has always encouraged remote collaboration and flexible working practices, Prett says. For instance, in any given month, Accenture’s employees share around 589 million chat messages, 1.2 billion audio minutes, and 141 million of video minutes using Microsoft Teams. She says 85% of employees surveyed say they intend to stay with their companies for a long time.

    One analyst, however, reminds CIOs and other C-suite executives that the decisions on hybrid enterprise may be out of their hands.

    “The pandemic-fueled shift to a decentralized, hybrid working model is here to stay for the long term. And with the potential for ongoing COVID-19 variations to emerge, it’s very likely that we’ll be hybrid not just for not just work but for business events for a long time to come,” says Fred McClimans, a tech and equity analyst at Futurum Research.

    “While many organizations were looking to revert back to the legacy in-office model as soon as possible,” he says, “the acceleration of digital transformation initiatives and the rapid deployment of collaborative tools have made the remote, work-from-home model much more appealing.”

    Author: Paula Rooney

    Source: CIO

  • Recommendations for transitioning your business to a hybrid cloud environment successfully

    Recommendations for transitioning your business to a hybrid cloud environment successfully

    Why move to the cloud, and if you do, how can you do so smoothly? BMC's Bill Talbot, VP for solutions marketing, shares some suggestions for making a successful transition.

    From your perspective, what's driving enterprises to the cloud?

    Bill Talbot: It's simple: efficiency. Enterprise customers are increasingly moving to the cloud because they want to be more agile, accelerate innovation faster, and most importantly to make operations run smoother in general. The cloud has reached the point where it's no longer an emerging category. Instead, it's now part of the mainstream. A recent report by 451 Research found a majority (90%) of organizations surveyed are using a cloud service of some sort. Pointing even further to growing adoption and cloud maturity, 69% of enterprises surveyed planned to work in multicloud and hybrid IT environments this year.

    If the cloud is so beneficial, why should an enterprise not move everything to the cloud? Why should a CIO consider a hybrid environment instead?

    When it comes to adopting the cloud, organizations shouldn't do a complete overhaul and move everything to the cloud. Instead, they should carefully consider their goals and choose specific areas where transitioning to the cloud makes business or technical sense. A hybrid cloud environment enables organizations to balance control and flexibility, meaning enterprises have the option to choose the IT resources they purchase based on what they think is best for the business.

    For example, CIOs should consider the demand or transaction load an application requires. If demand is high and causes big, periodic spikes that require additional resources for short periods, developing a cloud app with auto-scaling services could be the best strategy. On the other hand, if the load is relatively consistent, it may be more cost effective to run it on on-premises resources and reserve operational budget for other needs.

    What are the most important considerations for any CIO thinking about moving their company to a hybrid cloud environment?

    Top considerations are speed to innovation, cost, security, and scale. They must influence the decision to invest in a cloud-based service. CIOs evaluating a potential transition to the cloud must look at it two ways: first, as a business decision and, second, as a technology decision.

    Before committing to the technology, CIOs need to clearly outline their business objectives, implementation plan, timeline, and costs to ensure it's the best option. Beyond this, CIOs need to consider regulatory and compliance guidelines and ensure the cloud services adhere to these requirements. Security is a growing challenge for CIOs as they transfer applications and infrastructure to the public cloud. It's important to understand that as a cloud buyer, you're responsible for securing the cloud services you purchase.

    How does the cloud affect speed to innovation?

    Cloud service providers offer resources and technology services that can take significant time to build or acquire in the data center, such as machine learning algorithms. Cloud services are also more easily accessible, supporting and accelerating agile development processes and digital services to keep businesses innovating at a faster rate. In this time of mass digital transformation, organizations find themselves challenged with growing requests that IT operations simply cannot keep up with in a sustainable, long-term way. With seemingly on-demand cloud services now available, organizations are empowered to accelerate innovation and offer new products and services to customers faster.

    Costs are often touted as a big advantage for moving to the cloud, everything from lower upfront capital expenditures to staff savings. What else should a CIO think about when it comes to costs?

    CIOs now have a choice between spending operational or capital budget and need to consider which is best for their business. Managing operational budgets for cloud services requires new tools and discipline. CIOs should embrace predictive analytics and machine learning tools to forecast and manage their cloud spend and budget. By embracing these technologies, cloud ops teams can anticipate what typical cloud usage and spend will be, and even get alerted if they're tracking beyond their allocated resources.

    CIOs can also leverage these tools to rank cloud projects based on cost, from highest to lowest, which helps them easily identify resources that should be consolidated, or possibly eliminated, to keep costs on target.

    How is scale relevant here? Isn't scale only an important consideration for the largest enterprises?

    Scale is important to any enterprise and on multiple levels. At the macro level, there is the scale or large number and variety of infrastructure resources needed to support the many business services of a large enterprise. On a more micro level, scale also applies to the volume of data collected and processed or analyzed, as well as to growing or erratic changes in demand for a specific application or business service.

    Cloud services can address all of these scenarios. Scalability is also pushing organizations to acquire the right cloud management tools to predict changes that require scale and to understand the costs associated.

    Author: James E. Powell

    Source: TDWI

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