There is an apt and honest editorial cartoon about Change.
I was a guest of Channel Asia Executive Roundtable last week. I joined several luminaries in South East Asia to discuss about the topic of “How Partners can bring value to the businesses to manage their remote workforce“.
Covid-19 decimated what we knew as work in general. The world had to pivot and now, 2+ years later, a hybrid workforce has emerged. The mixture of remote work, work-from-home (WFH), physical office and everywhere else has brought up a new mindset and new attitudes with both the employers and their staff alike. Without a doubt, the remote way of working is here to stay.
People won but did the process lose?
The knee jerk reactions when the lockdowns of Covid hit were to switch work to remote access to applications on premises or in the clouds. Many companies have already moved to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) way of working but not all have made the jump, just like not all the companies’ applications were SaaS based. Of course, the first thing these stranded companies do was to look for the technologies to solve this unforeseen disorder.
Point solutions, multiple technology implementations, multiclouds inundated these companies IT and data landscape. 2 years on, people have adapted to doing things remotely and companies have accepted this hybrid work as the new norm. Attitudes changed. Mindsets changed. The people won. Technology won. Great.
Underneath the haste and chase to achieve “frictionless” and “convenience” of IT services and easy access to data, I found one critical component is often overlooked and that is the IT data practices and policies. This quagmire is a legacy of pre-Covid and the processes to install value and ROIs (return of investments) are sorely missing.
Heading to a blackhole unless …
Data is like water. It will creep into every nook and cranny if we let it flow. Even if we block the flow of data, it can show up in places we do not expect. Why? There is a data leak.
When we want to use the data obtained from a media (a folder, a cloud services, a thumb drive etc) because we think that it is the most updated, most relevant and most secured copy of the data, we realized that that it is not what we want. Data is stale. Good data is missing.
One morning, the files are gone. The backups are empty. Where is my data? Data security has been compromised.
Underneath this superficial cloak of “awesome” remote access to data everywhere, and the “cool” concept that data is in the clouds, have we thought about where the IT data practices are heading?
The pain points I see are data silos everywhere; single source of truth not consolidated; security of the data broken. We are tumbling towards a data black hole …
Metamorphosing into real value
Navigating and steering across the Covid effects on remote work was a challenge, and after over 2 years, the hybrid work model is coming to light. We have thrown a smorgasbord of technology solutions and the kitchen sink to overcome the work challenges and we endured into the new norm. But I do not see the IT data practices and policies going through this metamorphosis convincingly.
As a storage consultant with a data management passion, I constantly remind, cajole and even coerce companies to look at their processes. Switching to the clouds does not mean you have embarked on a digital transformation journey. Many still look and feel like a common lift-and-shift from on-premises to cloud services. Able to get your files on a tablet or a personal device does not mean that it is remote work personified. I have seen the data roadkills week in, week out with hearsay, anecdotes, and even experiencing them with the companies calling for assistance and guidance.
The real value is to help the companies design and craft a technical and non-technical conversation around data, and not lead with technology products. Focus on developing an IT data practice framework which can be realized into a data policy that must be continuously refined time and time again.
I wrote about 3-2-1 and A-B-C in my blog 2 weeks ago. These are simple, easy to follow and easy to implement rules that can be turned into a disciplined process for any company to deal with data challenges. There are of course more rules when it comes to data management practices, and companies must recognize that this as an important aspect to get the IT data strategies, practices, processes and policies right.