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Vertical Leaping in Today’s New Normal

Digital workspace

Vertical Leaping – It’s a term that’s probably most closely associated with basketball, a standard test for measuring the power output of a player, with elite athletes able to achieve vertical leap heights of 32”-36”, and in some cases even higher.

It’s an exercise for building both endurance and explosive power.

I think it’s an equally effective term for what IT organizations are facing today, in the “new normal” we’re all navigating through.

It’s actually a term we used at EMC, way back in the late ‘90s, as IT organizations who were following a standard horizontal growth curve for dealing with change, were suddenly confronted by the need to make a vertical leap instead, due to any combination of mergers, acquisitions, data center consolidations, the dotcom bubble and even Y2K planning. This created a pile-on effect, a need or an opportunity to accelerate months or even years of planning to vertically leap forward, quickly.

It occurred to me recently, here we go again. The contributing factors are different, but once again, the horizon for planning or responding to change is no longer horizontal. Digital disruption was already a vertical leap on top of normal IT ‘run the business’ challenges. This pandemic is now like a vertical leap on top of a vertical leap, an unprecedented situation that organizations must navigate through, quickly.

Navigating through today's vertical leaps

Here are some common themes that we’re seeing at Presidio:

1. Enabling distributed work – we don’t think of it as “remote work” – that implies there is some centralized physical office location. Distributed work recognizes that work is an experience, a set of activities, and distributed work is here to stay. In the first two months of COVID, we saw a rapid customer response to make sure everyone had a PC and VPN connection. Maybe two-factor authentication. Now for the long haul, IT has to enable a productive distributed work experience – one that is also safe – at scale.

2. Accelerating cloud and digital initiatives. It’s about becoming nimble, becoming flexible, and being able to react quickly. Everyone’s talking about a “cloud first” strategy, but we see it more as a “cloud right” strategy. It’s not always clear which workloads should go to the cloud, or how to realize the cost benefits, or how to ensure security in the cloud, or even where the next generation of skillsets is coming from.

3. Automating workflows, including RPA – robotics process automation. COVID brought two years’ worth of change in two months and the only way to handle that going forward is to automate repetitive tasks. RPA is a way to bring AI, ML, models and
algorithms together onto a common backbone –once and for all moving automation out of the labs and into production.

4. Transforming roles and skills. If you think about navigation – it’s determining both direction and velocity. You can’t move an organization faster than the people and culture can absorb.

5. Reduce costs. And of course, depending on which analyst or newsfeed you subscribe to, IT leaders are being asked to take anywhere from 5-10% out of their IT budgets – without slowing down the business.

This vertical leaping business is a tall order but if you think about the glass half-full version of this scenario, maybe today’s situation actually represents a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to accelerate positive change. Navigation is about making proactive, purposeful decisions to accelerate through vertical leaps. Which of these are top navigation points for you, or what might be missing?

In my next blog, we’ll take a look at each of these in more detail, starting with workforce transformation – because people are our most valuable asset. And if IT organizations could enable a modernized, distributed workforce experience, at scale, with secure access for all – imagine what that would mean for the productivity of your most valued asset?

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