During the first day of Zoomtopia 2020, I attended a session titled “CIO Vision: The Future of Work and Where We Go From Here.” The topic is one of great interest to us at AVI-SPL. We are always working to help organizations of all types improve their ability to collaborate and reach their business goals. As technology advances and solutions become integral to operations, continuity, security and the user experience are paramount. Companies want to know how to give their workforce the tools they need to succeed in a time marked by disruption, globalization, and expectations of a seamless user experience.
The online event, which took place early Wednesday afternoon, October 14, was billed as “a conversation about key takeaways from this year and how this will impact future decisions to minimize risk and drive success.”
Across the session’s 45 minutes, the conversation among six CIOs focused on five areas:
- How their companies are adapting to changes in work
- Business continuity
- The changing nature of collaboration
- Work culture
- Predictions for the future of work
Harry Moseley, global chief information officer for Zoom, was among the six and steered the conversation across those subtopics.
What follows is a summary of my takeaways from the conversation. The insights from these thought leaders may help give you some guidance as you and your company work through our unprecedented times. Throughout, I highlight quotes from each speaker. These are observations that I thought were insightful and that illustrated the speaker’s point on that subtopic.
Adapting to Accelerated Changes to the Nature of Work
Megan Crespi, chief operations and technology officer, Comerica Bank – Crespi talked about Comerica’s focus on supporting employees so they can work from anywhere. At the same time, they are keeping an eye on developing technology and looking out for future investments and capabilities.
“We’re spending a lot of time thinking about the innovative ways we can meet our customers where they are and even imagine ways that our customers may want to interact.”
Cindy Taibi, CIO, New York Times – Taibi talked about how well positioned the Times was for the pandemic because they had already moved most of their technology assets to the public cloud. The challenge has been dealing with the cultural shift. The Times has had to keep teams connected to each other. But it also has had to deal with a work-from-home situation where workdays blend into evenings that blend into weekends.
“We really have to encourage our staff to focus on their own well-being. But maintaining the cultural link has been the hard part where we didn’t know what to expect.”
Larry Quinlan, global CIO, Deloitte – Quinlan emphasized IT’s investment in the cloud and capacity long before the pandemic. He dispelled the notion that IT departments were simply reactive during this disruption. Quinlan said IT has been proactive through its investments and didn’t react overnight to the shift to work-from-home.
“We’ve been investing in the cloud. We’ve been investing in tools like Zoom.”
Barry Shurkey, SVP and CIO, NTT Data – For Shurkey, the disruption has meant an opportunity to focus on projects that help clients and improve IT services. He emphasized the need to focus on initiatives related to security and the digital workplace. Those investments will better support the business and its strategies.
“This is a great time to use that momentum in IT to get a lot of different projects done, especially around automation and self-service.”
Graham Billsborough, group CIO, EG Group – Billsborough said his team was surprised by the adoption rate of collaboration technology. He offered an example of a three-day HR strategy session on Zoom that saved enough money to pay for the technology. It also gave remote participants input into the meeting. That meeting included a couple of employees that had just come back from maternity leave. They were able to join the meeting and still be at home with their families.
“It’s that adoption rate that is the difference between where we were and where we are now.”
Cindy Taibi – Taibi said that cloud migration had shifted the Times’ focus away from the loss of a couple of work locations and data centers. She described having thousands of locations to worry about as employees work from home. As a result, her approach has shifted from disaster recovery to continuous resiliency. She also emphasized the need for backups to the collaboration tools that employees rely on for their daily work.
“The importance of resilience testing and readiness testing is just as much as it ever was.”
Barry Shurkey – Shurkey explained how NTT is using globalized delivery and centralized systems to support people from working from home. Within two weeks, they were securely supporting 50,000 people from multiple countries.
“We were able to use virtual desktop infrastructure to be able to support those people going home.”
Larry Quinlan – Regulations have complicated the ability to maintain business continuity. The complications and challenges to continuity and moving data arise from regulations and nationalistic rules regarding privacy.
“Plotting all of these data moves, figuring out where data is resident, whether it’s continuity or not, figuring it out in the cloud as well as the assets we have on premises, seems to be getting worse, not better, and something we’re spending a lot of time thinking about.”
Megan Crespi – Crespi advised companies to look at what technology solutions are most important and decide when to use the secondary tool at critical moments. She described Comerica’s essential workers and how the company has provided physical facilities for them to maintain continuity..
“For the people who are working from anywhere…giving them the instructions in how to route through their phones if their primary internet service at home goes down — it’s that sort of belt-and-suspenders approach that I think is working pretty well for us.”
Collaboration After COVID-19
Larry Quinlan – Quinlan gave kudos to the industry for how it has responded to collaboration tools. He expected more outages due to the dynamics of work-from-home. Upcoming challenges include scaling effectively and figuring out the hybrid work situation. Quinlan said that while we can work remotely, we have to go back to our offices. However, we can’t go back to thinking only people in the building matter. He asked, “What does the meeting of the future look like where people are connecting from different buildings and remote locations?”
“We really have to provide a number of toolsets…tailored to what the work product is in order for people to be happy.”
Harry Moseley – Moseley mentioned new features Zoom is introducing, including for Zoom Rooms, whiteboarding, and templates. He added that collaboration across the digital divide will be the ongoing challenge to ensure everyone is of equal stature during meetings.
“When everybody is on Zoom, everybody’s head is the same size, there’s no room for any egos, and there’s no hierarchy because we all look the same.”
Cindy Taibi – Taibi brought up the challenge of consistently managing software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools. Employees can click on a EULA and the next thing you know, 400 of them are using a tool you never even heard of. And that tool that now has sensitive company data.
“In my case, where I need to focus on amping up our abilities is around SaaS management and putting some of those things in place to help us track usage, spending, etc.”
Graham Billsborough – Billsborough noted that his company’s employees have improvised ways to stay safe while returning to the office. One example: participating in Zoom meetings from their desks and sharing their screens. He discussed the importance for CIOs to listen to what their employees need. Even though people are collaborating via video, being in the office gives people a boost. It helps with their mental well-being to be around those working on the same objectives. Moseley responded that being back in the office helps mark the line between personal time and professional time.
Megan Crespi — Crespi sees a time when her company will need to provide work flexibility on some days of the week while also requiring staff to be together on other days. That flexibility will attract new employees. Flexibility will also give opportunities to people who are entering or reentering the workforce, including moms going back to work and those with nontraditional schedules to manage. Because companies can structure work differently, they are lowering the barriers to entry in key positions. Moseley noted that flexibility will increase work-life balance and bring opportunities to people who didn’t have them.
“I am imagining how that [having access to flexibility through technology] may evolve and enable groups who have really been locked out or only locked into some types of careers.”
With time running out on his session, Harry asked the panelists for their quick predictions on the future of work by the middle of 2021. They each gave succinct answers, summarized here:
- Barry Shurkey – He sees more self-sufficiency and automation.
- Graham Billsborough – Audio enhancements will make a key difference in how a meeting feels across locations.
- Megan Crespi — She predicts more choice and consideration of how employees want to work.
- Larry Quinlan – IT organizations will be far more sophisticated in how they support the ways people work. Quinlan also sees continued wrestling with questions about when to travel to offices and when to stay home and rely on video.
- Cindy Taibi –The Times will always be a hybrid workplace and employ a global workforce because of that. She predicts that their global orientation will drive diversity within the company..
If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to read the summary of the Zoomtopia keynote address. Nancy Lussier looks at the topics covered by Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan, including:
- Security and privacy enhancements
- Productivity tools
- Engagement features
- Safety and well-being
More From Zoomtopia
Today, the second day of Zoomtopia 2020, offers a lot of interesting topics, including:
How IT Leaders Can Stay Flexible and Agile During Impending Change
Learn Anywhere: What Top Colleges and Universities Can Teach Us About Educating During the Pandemic
The Future of the Workplace: What’s Next
Connect Anywhere: Leveraging Zoom for Activities Beyond the K-12 Classrooms
Interoperability in the Conference Room: Leveraging Existing Investments to Connect to the Zoom Cloud
Want more practical insights into the future of work? AVI-SPL has a vast amount of resources to guide the way. Download our guide “How to See the Future of Work and Act on It.” This paper offers the insight of our Customer Advisory Board, which includes some of the most well-known and successful organizations. You’ll learn how they are preparing for the future workplace. You’ll also get their take on technology advancements and workplace trends.