The last two years have seen a rapid surge towards digitisation, as organisations on a global scale adopted intuitive solutions to support staff remotely, when colleagues were no longer sat side by side in the office.
Many of the tools implemented have proved to be a lifeline for businesses. Yet elsewhere – as workforces begin to settle into more of a hybrid working rhythm – a review of companies’ increasingly multifaceted tech stacks has raised questions around relevance, usage, and what that means from a cost perspective.
So, what should organisational leaders do if they discover that the tools they put in place are seemingly redundant? We sat down with our CEO Tim Mercer and Ben Nicklen, chief operating officer for workplace data analytics firm Tiger, to uncover more on this strand of ‘technical debt’ commentary, and explore how reducing inactive solutions could boost productivity and corporate sustainability too …
Organisations large and small moved swiftly in 2020 to ensure they could maintain a level of ‘business as usual’ as the Covid-19 pandemic forced several workforces to take their work home full-time.
Many reports have since arisen on the impact of the global crisis and how cloud adoption soared as a result. In fact, a McKinsey study in July 2020 stated there had consequently been the equivalent of a seven-year acceleration in digital transformation.
Business leaders made understandable, immediate reactions in response to the mass move to working from home – giving companies and their employees the tools they thought they needed to get through the global crisis.
Technical debt was perhaps therefore inevitable, post- pandemic.
However, it’s only now, when there’s room to ‘breathe’, that many organisations are asking questions surrounding the true usability – or cost –of their tech. Are these solutions still being utilised as much today, as they were two years ago? And, with businesses now benefitting from a vast amount of technology at their fingertips, are they empowered or out of pocket?
“There’s no question that Covid-19 has highlighted the requirement for a better work-life balance. Colleagues almost expect their organisations to be flexible now because it’s been proven – by many enterprises – that you can work from anywhere,” said Ben.
“However, with dispersed teams comes a lack of knowledge into exactly how engaged colleagues are, and if the solutions they have in place to enable them to do their jobs, are in fact a help or a hinderance. Modern-day organisations must therefore be able to drill down into their data to better understand what tools are being used, when, for how long and their overall quality.
“If they don’t, leaders are effectively having to make business-critical decisions based on limited information and almost a ‘gut feel’ response – they’re operating in the dark.”
Responding to insight and investing in the right solutions for your business
Speaking about the importance of having an effective strategy in place – when it comes to not just digital transformation but tech investments on the whole – Tim added: “Let’s say an organisation buys new laptops for each of its 1,000 employees at £500-£600 a time, that’s at least half a million pounds spent before they’ve even decided if every single employee needs them.
“For example, what if there’s a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution being designed in the backend, so really the company requires Chromebooks instead? Strategic decisions must be made by firstly taking a step back and understanding who needs what equipment, and how much they’ll use it.”
Both agreed that there had been many lessons learnt throughout the pandemic, and to a certain extent, actions were taken on a ‘needs must’ basis when things were really tough. However, what businesses should be focusing on now, is how to refine and optimise their applications, software, hardware and licences, to ensure nothing is incurring unnecessary spend through lack of use.
Tim believes that many companies are taking more time to review their tech estate in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
“With the rise in hybrid working, there’s no question that progressive organisations will be delving deeper into what they’re offering their teams – now’s the time to get the right services in place. It’s up to a strong leader to uncover exactly how they can manage these tools effectively and ensure technical deliverables are set and monitored.
“If they don’t do their due diligence, they could risk employees ‘going rogue’ and ignoring solutions that are in place or using alternatives – such as WhatsApp or Slack interactions instead of preferred communications over Microsoft Teams, for example, or even BYOD attitudes.”
It’s not about employee surveillance
Agreeing with this statement, Ben delved into the importance of having full visibility across the organisation to empower leaders to be able to make business-critical decisions based on real-time insight.
“This isn’t a case of ‘Big Brother’ is watching – employees aren’t under surveillance,” he commented. “It’s about uncovering and interrogating usage data and contextualising it so companies can better identify any key trends and respond accordingly. It’s helping CTOs, CIOs, IT directors and even financial directors to be more proactive, and presenting an evidenced case to the board if things need to change.”
Both leaders recognised the need to create more sustainable solutions too. While Tiger is not only helping to unlock intelligence to arm leaders to make the right investments – or divestments – organisations are also in a stronger position to know which tools are draining energy consumption.
Meanwhile, Vapour has committed to becoming a net zero workforce by 2040 and is supporting companies to have more environmentally friendly products and services in place.
“There’s a huge green issue at play here. When you plug in secure public cloud services – rather than on-premise server rooms or private data centres – you’re not only improving your carbon footprint, but you’re streamlining your tech estate too,” Tim explained.
“That’s why we have Logic Monitor in place – our application monitoring system – to help identify underperforming platform apps, systems and processes that suck up bandwidth and energy.”
And while both leaders highlighted the importance of having intuitive tools in place, Ben summed up the vital nature of making sure the right people were doing the right jobs, at the right time.
“You can’t do anything without data in today’s digital-first world. However, technology can’t solve all your problems – you have to have the right people and processes in place too for the power of great tech to really come to life,” he added.