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Exploring the New Normal for IT Post-Coronavirus

By Jeff Elliott A

s the more immediate impact of mandated shutdowns, em- ployee layoffs and shelter-in-

place orders begin to shift to the longer-term goals of recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19, companies will be forced to re-evalu- ate the role of IT. For many companies, that

means a reevaluation of IT priorities, budget expenditures and also a drive to adopt new technologies to mitigate the impact of future viruses. Cyber- security also remains a concern, giv- en that it is an ever-present risk, and a disruption due to being hacked on top of the current effects of the coro- navirus could be fatal for even the largest corporations. “The one thing that is certain is

the coronavirus pandemic will per- manently change consumer behavior and corporate decision making,” says Eric Brackett, president of BTI Com- munications Group, a technology convergence provider serving health- care, logistics and aerospace. “Companies previously focused

on IT projects that were strategic to their business will now be looking more to automate existing processes, reduce infrastructure costs and protect against future disruptions,” he says. Not only that, but they will have

to improve their reliability, security and quality of network and cloud serv- ices, while also reducing costs to offset declining revenue and margins, and to free up budget for innovation. “Even if demand increases in

the coming months, it may only be 70 percent of what it was, so there will be pressure to lower prices and cut costs,” explains Brackett. “At the same time, customers will still expect 100 percent quality in service.”

Move to IT Managed Services Brackett explains that cutbacks

in spending will impact in-house IT and infrastructure. As a result, more companies will be inclined to explore outsourced IT services from technolo- gy integrators that can install and manage a combination of phone (VoIP), physical security and net- work systems. “For a reasonable cost, IT man-

aged services can immediately step in and provide a solution that will al- low a company to maintain opera- tions, help desks and even the infra- structure if needed,” says Brackett. This approach adds a layer of

security at a time when companies feel very vulnerable — making changes to IT departments. “Most companies are very insecure about changing IT staff or providers, be- cause they don’t have a clear idea ex- actly what their staff was doing, what was installed and how secure the system is,” says Brackett. Failing to secure IT systems im-

mediately can have severe conse- quences. For example, if a customer list is accidentally erased or cannot be accessed, proprietary information is not protected against hacking or the company is unable to process credit card payments. Cybersecurity remains a top-

level concern and can be improved with the help of a top-shelf IT man- aged service to protect against hack- ing, fraudulent transfers, malware and ransomware demands, as well as concerns related to certain hardware made in China, such as security cam- eras and phones. “Active monitoring and response

to potential cybersecurity breaches and abnormal behavior powered by ar- tificial intelligence is available from third-party technology providers now for a fraction of the cost of monitoring it internally,” says Brackett.

Infection Control and Restricting Traffic

“Infection control” — even at

corporate offices, may become part of the new normal in corporate environ- ments and other commercial opera- tions, such as universities and logis- tics centers. According to Brackett, this will

be driven by an inevitable wave of new federal and state regulations post- coronavirus. “When the current crisis is over, politicians are going to enact

all types of regulations to ensure this won’t happen again,” he says. Much of the technology required

exists already and is being imple- mented in heavily regulated indus- tries where security, infection con- trol, visitor controls, and access con- trol systems are currently installed. Aerospace and defense, for ex-

ample, already audit the comings and goings of visitors, infection and biocontamination controls are uti- lized in hospitals and clinics and san- itation precautions are demanded by the FDA in food processing plants. “Technology integrators already

provide the technology for those facil- ities, and it can be installed in an of- fice too,” says Brackett. “For our cus- tomers that already had these types of systems, it literally took a few key- strokes to make adjustments and change the protocols for the coron- avirus.” Corporate offices and other fa-

cilities that once allowed free move- ment of personnel, visitors and main- tenance workers may opt to enact tighter restrictions on access to the building or specific areas to prevent the spread of future viruses or guard against a return of the coronavirus. In many ways, this would mir-

ror the infection control practices in the same manner as hospitals and clinics.

Price Transparency, Lower Costs

Given the expected cutbacks, IT

technology integrators will also have to offer these services at a much low- er cost than in-house staff and infra- structure, with full transparency of all fees and charges. In other words, a much higher level of overall ac- countability will be required when it comes to pricing. When engaging with a managed

IT service provider, customers must know what they are paying for with contracts that clearly spell out each installed product, feature and sup- port item or service. “Technology integrators should

bear the cost of providing an initial assessment of the company’s needs,” says Brackett. “The bid should item- ize the costs for equipment and sup- port. It should also anticipate future upgrade paths to provide trans- parency for future expenses. This way, a customer knows their initial, ongoing and upgrade costs and can

budget accordingly.” Contact: BTI Communications

Group, 1441 Branding Avenue, Suite 200, Downers Grove, IL 60515 % 312-432-5300 E-mail: Web: r

July, 2020

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