Let us learn from the COVID-19

A costly lesson

By Eirikur Eiriksson

Huston, we had a problem”, one of the most famous communications in recent times, when mission control and the astronauts managed to safely land the Apollo 13 craft on Earth by using creative thinking, pieces of a spacesuit, a flight plan cue card, plastic bags and duct tape to mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, in the COVID-19 pandemic, spacesuits are even more scarce than other pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), most flights are grounded (so no cue cards), and plastic bags and duct tape are in short supply as those are being used as makeshift PPE kits. But, we still have creative thinking!

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a costly lesson for many businesses, some of which have paid the ultimate price. The lockdown, social distancing, travel restrictions, office closures, technical debt, and outdated mentality, have forced many into hibernation or even worse, into temporary or permanent closure. We will also explore how we can learn from the pandemic and future proof businesses for similar situations, which according to experts, are highly likely to happen again.

Business hibernation is the state of business where only the minimal vital signs are maintained and, just like hibernating mammals, there is no real movement or activity. Workers unable to turn up in the office, incoming calls cannot be routed or the data for processing the calls is inaccessible, all this equating to the immobility state of mammals’ hibernation. The hibernation state could be avoided if it were not for the existing technical debts.

A large part of the problems are technical debts, which have long plagued most businesses. The main parts are the reliance on legacy systems, the resistance to system updates, such as regular data systems or operating systems upgrades and the inability to adopt modern systems architecture. The upgrade procrastination is evident in the continuous story of Windows versions, data systems and other software being used passed the use-by date. This has forced the adoption and implementation of bolt-on mentality. The outdated security approach of bolting on security to vulnerable systems, building walls and secure parameters, blanketly applying “security” software is no longer working. Most of those are in fact, business inhibitors rather than enablers.

The truth is that businesses are understandably hesitant and resisting changes. Until now the physical “Office” has been the comfort zone, outside there is a jungle. Having long contained activities such as Social Media, Personal Emails, Unrelated Web Browsing, Software Installations, License Compliance and to a somewhat lesser extent, workers experience in the Office, managing out of office workers has been frowned upon and looked at like any out of body experience.

It is interesting that with more modern architecture, businesses have successfully implemented Business-to-client trust and communication. Why have the same businesses not done so for their workers? If we can manage our assets, investments, taxes, shopping, insurance, vehicle registration and other such activities online, why is it so hard for businesses to adopt a similar approach for the workforce?

In the consequent articles, we will explore these questions and the potential “creative thinking” answers.

High Skills Partners’ articles are provided for your interest and do not constitute advice, legal or otherwise. We aim to be informative, thought-provoking and to reflect our experience, whilst striving for accuracy and correctness. © 2020 High Skills Partners Limited