I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a few incredible IT leaders from the City of Amarillo, Texas, Honeywell and Vancouver Film School (VFS) to discuss how the last year has changed their approach to driving better experiences and faster business results, and how they are innovating today to help their organizations digitally transform.
Despite facing different challenges, they all shared the same priorities: modern infrastructure, digital resiliency, a digital-first approach and culture.
Modern infrastructure built on agility and hybrid cloud flexibility
Our conversation centered on just how critical agility is — being able to move quickly and pivot as needed. That requires investments in a modern infrastructure that embraces the flexibility, choice and predictability of hybrid cloud. This was never more clear than last year when our customers – and Dell Technologies – needed to quickly pivot in the course of a weekend to shift our team members to work from home. Having the ability to scale and manage the entire experience in a consistent environment across clouds ensured productivity didn’t skip a beat – our teams and customers were supported.
Richard Gagnon, CIO of City of Amarillo, Texas, shared how his team was able to create new applications and re-route resources with its hybrid-cloud approach when stay-at-home mandates were ordered. Essential personnel were working remotely in just days, and a 75-person virtual call center for remote public health clinics was set up over a weekend. Now, the City of Amarillo is further investing in its hybrid cloud infrastructure to enable disaster recovery services anywhere and developing a broadband solution to provide internet to schools, healthcare organizations and more.
At Dell Technologies, we’ve designed and built a cloud environment that provides a platform for greater agility and automation, and notably enhanced DevOps and better experiences for our application development teams. Our internal teams have access to self-service provisioning, allowing them to better collaborate and innovate with speed. As a result, we’ve dramatically improved our productivity, speed, security and visibility. And it’s foundational to the experiences we are delivering through APEX and the APEX Console.
Digital resiliency must combine culture and technology
Creating a culture that fosters collaboration and connection is critical for digital resiliency and overall transformation.
When it quickly had to create an all-remote learning environment, Vancouver Film School provided laptops to students and access to Dell Precision workstations to ensure they could stay connected and continue their graphic and data-intensive curriculum. Bernard Gucake, Head of IT at VFS, said they also used software on top of Dell Isilon storage as part of their adjusted IT strategy to give students the ability to share files and access storage more seamlessly. He added that connecting with your users is important to truly transform — look at trouble tickets and work as a team to figure out how you can solve problems at the root to improve the end-user experience – and learn from it.
Like VFS, Honeywell’s ongoing digital transformation and collaborative culture created a successful quick shift to remote work. Sheila Jordan, Honeywell’s Chief Technology Officer, shared how Honeywell made investments in network upgrades to support increased devices, bandwidth and VPN access, but also focused on employee engagement best practices. Remote work was new for many employees. For example, ensuring teams were engaging with each other on video so they didn’t miss any non-verbal cues was important – as was making sure folks were forgiving of the new remote work attire. Which I think we all look back on and laugh a little, because it’s all so commonplace now.
In fact, many organizations are not looking back. This combination of technology and collaboration is fostering the do-anything-from-anywhere culture. It delivers greater flexibility and for global teams, creates a level playing field for discussion and innovation.
Data drives intelligence
And then there’s the data – how we use it to extract insights that create new opportunities for businesses, greater IT efficiency and improved user experiences. But with today’s widely distributed workforce and increasing data growth at the edge – that data too, is widely distributed. Modern infrastructure gives organizations the ability to manage, analyze and secure data everywhere it exists and deliver more value.
Honeywell is exploring the convergence of IT and OT (operational technology) at the edge. By integrating insights from systems and applications they can have greater visibility into what’s happening across a facility – everything from building traffic to temperature control to maintenance. And, have it all in a single view to make critical decisions that impact productivity and overall costs. Honeywell is even taking those insights and deeply integrating them into new applications across the organization – actionable insights that break down data silos across manufacturing, facilities and various smart building systems. And those insights make their way into their own Honeywell Forge offering for customers.
Security must be embedded into everything
As data becomes widely distributed, the potential attack surface of an organization increases. Security must be embedded into everything to limit the need for quick fix “Band-Aids” after the fact. It requires a proactive ongoing approach – it must be intrinsic.
We all agreed that security is everybody’s job and that process, culture, education and automation are key. Rich shared that the City of Amarillo has developed a robust education program and incorporated security into their performance reviews – they even phish their own employees to see if they take the bait. These are critical opportunities to ensure that everyone understands and underscores the importance of security.
Digital Transformation is a continuum
The organizations that have made investments in their digital transformation journey fared better during the last year than those that haven’t. The City of Amarillo, VFS and Honeywell make that clear. They were able to pivot quickly to keep business running, customers and students supported, and innovation humming. Organizations are now leaning in even further and adopting modern solutions and services that give them the ability to see around corners and be ready for whatever comes next. That means investments in better online experiences for customers and developers, automation and analytics for data-driven outcomes, and security. A world where teams and customers can thrive and truly do anything from anywhere.