The Role of IT Departments in Preparing Offices Post-COVID-19

By Óscar Sánchez, President & CEO, KYOCERA Document Solutions America, Inc. – We have been well aware of the power and potential of data in modern day business for quite some time now. We quickly realized that for companies, industries, and nations to remain competitive, digitalization would no longer be an option. Having said that, the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated emerging trends such as mobility and digital solutions at a tremendous rate, much quicker than we could previously have imagined.

In the blink of an eye we went from our daily office routines to working remotely, away from our colleagues. Prior to this, many companies had the concept of remote working well down their to-do list and were left drawing up last-minute contingency plans as offices were being forced to shut.

It became evident that a quick-fix solution to remote working would not suffice given the need for strong foundations, underpinned by sound technology, to enable staff to work securely and comfortably from their homes.

As I mentioned previously, the perception of remote working has changed drastically, and it is here to stay. It is no longer a “Plan B” solution. Instead, it will prove to be a competitive advantage for those who get it right.

The rapid acceleration of mobility and digital solutions does, of course, bring with it an inherent risk: cybersecurity threats. The overnight introduction of remote working for many companies has been music to the ears of hackers.

The security of a company’s data and information has gone from being protected in one central hub to an open arena of domestic routers where the risks are multiplied dramatically.

Hackers know only too well that it takes just one weak link in the security chain to do untold damage in terms of data loss, costs and organizational reputation. Naturally, employees need to have full access to all business systems to perform their work, but we need to be aware of the threats that this represents.

Therefore, IT departments will play a very significant role in preserving the competitive edge of their respective organizations during the return to the office process, as well as with remote working going forward.

We also need to be realistic. It will be impossible to invest in every available technology. IT departments will need to prudently manage their budgets; they will need to be even more agile when it comes to the implementation of projects; and they will need to build strong partnerships with their suppliers, in order to cope with the increased demand for new platforms, systems and technologies.

I believe that this increased demand, together with reduced budgets and the need for wide expertise, will accelerate the move towards outsourcing and Managed IT Services.

Here at Kyocera, our IT department has proven to be ready for this challenge. They have shown tremendous diligence and motivation during this challenging period. I am proud to say that our systems and processes have proven to be ready for this new reality, and we have been able to work remotely without any business interruption.

Moreover, we have accelerated some of the projects we had in our pipeline such as the introduction of an online payment for dealers; a new digital Accounts Payable process; and a paperless expense claim process. We have also reinforced the security of our systems and improved our cloud technology, reducing the need to use a VPN to access our platforms. From an external perspective, our IT Services Division is extending our product and services portfolio to cope with the increased demand for Managed IT Services.

Digital Workflows is another area of increased attention. Before this crisis, the need to become more efficient and agile was a key driver of the transition from paper-based processes to digital. Some companies, especially the smaller enterprises, were initially reluctant, believing that the impact on their business would not be worth the necessary investment.

Now, these businesses will have employees working in the office and others working remotely, and it is fundamental for such organizations to have seamless digital workflows, which can be run from anywhere without interruption. Simply put, we no longer have the option to physically circulate an invoice, contract or expense slip around the office – we need paperless processes instead.

Finally, we’ve witnessed that not only our employees, but also our customers are interacting with us more than ever through our digital channels. This provides us with a huge wealth of information and data which will undoubtedly help us make better-informed business decisions. This should, in turn, allow us to gain a further competitive advantage.

In the digital age, we need to be more proactive and flexible than ever. Business success will largely be dictated by data, not just in terms of its use, but also its protection. Therefore, as we embark on our return to the new normal, IT departments will take up a more crucial role than ever before as we build for the future. They will rely on our expertise and we need to support them in any way possible so that they can continue to protect us and our data.

SOURCE Kyocera

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