Business leaders and industry experts have given their views on how recent events have reshaped the workplace and their future technology strategies.
I recently participated in the “The Evolving Workplace,” a virtual CxO round-table, hosted by Dell Technologies and Intel on 16th June.
Michael Imeson, a Contributing Editor at FT Specialist, set the tone for the discussion when he stated, “The workplace before COVID-19 was rapidly evolving anyway, driven by technology, communications, environmental considerations and people’s changing attitudes to work,” and, “A professor at King’s College London told the FT that COVID-19 had brought forward two years of technological change in just two weeks.”
Pat Quigley, VP of IT for Dell Technologies said that this reflected the company’s own recent experiences. “Over two years we started by building out the foundational capabilities of the infrastructure – we modernised our network, modernised our cyber posture and started to layer on modern experiences. And after two years of that work we became an overnight success in February when we had to turn the dial: about 23,000 previously worked remote and we turned that to 120,000 people working remote pretty frictionlessly.”
Edward Green, Principal Digital Architect at McLaren, said this was also the experience at his group, which includes the McLaren Racing Formula 1 team. He remarked, “We migrated apps we were told never to migrate, we upgraded systems we always wanted to upgrade, we filled the corridors with all the old hardware we were meant to have got rid of. We stopped and reassessed and made some big improvements to our core infrastructure. There have been some really high-performance benefits to that!”
As the conversation turned to the impact of new ways of working and the opportunities many companies see in making those permanent, Stephanie Hallford, VP & GM, Business Client Platforms, Client Computing Group at Intel said, “A lot of my focus has been on ‘how do I adapt to what I can see, because everyone is handling things differently?’ I have some employees that love this and they want to continue with the silver linings of no commuting, with working around their kids. But at the same time, I have others who really are struggling to be as productive.” Quigley agreed that regularly taking the temperature of employee sentiment is key to establishing new best practices in the workplace: “We designed and launched what we call our Dell IT Pulse. We run it once every quarter and it goes out randomly to one in five team members globally, asking the simple question: ‘how do you rate IT?’”
Do it light, do it right
The next question posed was: When companies have found new practices that improve operations, what can they do to make them stick, across the business, long-term? Dee Chury, EMEA CTO at Dell Technologies, replied, “One of the phrases we’re using a lot at the moment is ‘do it light and do it right’… do it light is about business continuity. A lot of companies are thinking about large parts of their workforce remaining remote for the long-term, and that’s when you hear the phrase ‘the new normal’ creeping in.” Green agreed, saying: “The lesson IT learned was to be part of a multi-disciplinary team. Working with the broader business, embracing change, and learning from what you’ve done in the past is how we push things forward.”
Financing technological change
As I lead the combined Dell Financial Services EMEA sales teams at Dell Technologies, I shared three core elements for companies to focus on in terms of financing change: “First, is an understanding of the specific assets under consideration. What is the optimum lifecycle of asset, are there specific challenges to be considered – for example migrating from old technology to a new platform or scaling into a new environment? How will the investment be evaluated and how can we help?’ Secondly, how do you lower the Total Cost Of Ownership? We can enable that for our customers through taking risk or sharing risk in the asset value at the end of a given period of time, often lowering the TCO by as much as 20 percent. This is critical in today’s society to manage assets through their useful life and efficiently recycle back into the circular economy. The third part is: how do you manage those assets over time? People want flexibility and agility as their usage of assets may change over time. I’d say, choose your partners. In future, greater value is gained by moving from a traditional vendor relationship to a trusted partnership model.”