IT lessons the world learned from 2020

By Rajesh Ganesan, Vice President at ManageEngine

To the relief of many of us, it appears as if we’re on the verge of receiving a vaccine for COVID-19. Nevertheless, to put it mildly, the past year has been a trying time for the always-resilient information technology sector. Despite the litany of challenges the pandemic brought us, we’ve learned some valuable lessons.

IT belongs at the head of the table:
For years, information technology was mistakenly considered to be a backend function, existing solely to support the business; however, as technology dictated the course of the last two decades, IT established itself as a core business function. Moreover, as the past year has shown, the businesses who thrived were the ones who proactively made prudent tech investments for the future. After all, it was the IT personnel who came to the front lines, enabling businesses to seamlessly continue as a majority of their employees worked remotely. To be sure, there’s much to learn from the businesses that got it right and came out unscathed.

Expect the unexpected:
Businesses must be built for resilience — both in how they respond to tough situations, as well as how they’re able to come back after being down. Through disaster recovery and business continuity planning, organisations can properly assess their resilience levels. By frequently running drills of disruptions, businesses can ensure that they’re ready for anything. In order to keep up with technology changes, organisations need to take calculated risks, and it’s important to make any necessary tweaks to the business model. As businesses grow, their ability to remain nimble goes down gradually — often without anyone realizing the decline. Again, it’s vital that you’re able to make adjustments during calamitous times as well. The businesses that were able to face this year’s difficult situation head on were those that were nimble enough to alter their models and processes quickly.

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Embrace the cloud:
The pandemic obliterated conventional IT operations and associated processes. For the sake of business continuity, enterprises were forced to modify their on-premises IT infrastructure to facilitate increased remote access. On the one hand, organisations that were not prepared for such sudden changes became vulnerable to security and scalability issues which threatened to stifle growth. On the other hand, companies that adopted a solid cloud strategy were far less affected by the pandemic. Cloud makes it possible to add and remove the virtual infrastructure dynamically, which in turn allows you to attend to any demands without compromising the security posture of the services.

Endpoint security is key:
The influx of IoT devices over the past few years altered the endpoint management space; however, the pandemic further changed the business operations landscape, and it has made endpoint security as important as ever. In the post-COVID landscape, businesses now need to adopt a hybrid work environment: one that can accommodate not only regular office goers, but also work-from-home employees and roaming users. While cybersecurity firms continue to adapt to enterprise cybersecurity needs, remote work has made it clear that endpoint security is still the baseline upon which any additional security policies must be deployed.

Looking to the future:
Without a doubt, the pandemic has altered how we will work in the future. Many employees will continue to work remotely and access corporate data from various devices and locations. These lessons we’ve learned over the past year will not become obsolete any time soon. Endpoint security will continue to be vital as we migrate to the cloud, and we’ll need to continue to monitor employee behavior fastidiously. Even after the vaccine becomes widely available, business continuity and disaster relief planning will remain vital as well. After all, one never knows when the unexpected will occur again.