Great guest post by Kathy Schneider, Chief Marketing Officer, Sungard Availability Services.
“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again”
This quote from Mr. Incredible personifies the feeling we get in IT of always fighting battles but never winning the war. The Pixar superhero exemplifies the frustrations we often feel when we’re constantly moving from one problem to the next, with little choice but to keep moving on. If there’s one skill that every business needs, it’s resilience: the ability to predict, recover and withstand any business challenges to ensure that customers are happy, and businesses keep operating. This is not down to just one person – in every business, there are everyday resilience superheroes who do their part in making this happen. However, every hero has an Achilles heel – a particular skill or blind spot that needs to be looked after.
This article will take a deeper look at some of the everyday business resilience heroes in every organisation, and how the wider business should be supporting them.
The Resilience Leader:
Strengths: The resilience leader is a champion of continuity and Superman of the IT world, making sure everything stays up and running while blocking the constant evil threats. Conditioned to think beyond backup, this hero looks at resilience as an ‘always on’ strategy, not just reactionary in case something happens. Just as Superman holds responsibility for delegating leadership between Batman and Wonder Woman, the Resilience Leader serves as the glue between the IT team and wider business, making sure critical data and applications are always accessible to those who need them, when they are needed.
Achilles Heel: The resilience leader has to make sure that the whole business is armed against potential threats, with up to date tools and training being a huge part of this. However, this is not easy to achieve and our recent research found that 70% of UK employees feel unprepared for the digital journey ahead, with many citing that a lack of training is preventing them from adopting digital working practices. Sometimes the resilience leader feels that his own co-workers are inadvertently conspiring against his efforts – like when the unassuming person clicks on a phishing email link that brings down the whole email system.
This hero has to balance navigating important decision making about the IT production environment with communicating objectives and challenges clearly to the wider business to get their buy-in and cooperation.
The IT Optimiser:
Strengths: IT Optimisers are the driving force behind digital transformation in businesses. They’re perfectionists; you’ll never hear them say “it’s good enough”. I like to think they share similarities with Iron Man who’s constantly at work refining his suit to tackle the next threat. In a similar way, these heroes are always seeking to optimise the potential of your people, processes, and technologies. Continuous adaptability and improvement sit at the heart of their priorities.
Achilles Heel: The increasing risk and complexity associated with ensuring the business is resilient means expectations are often set very high, making them hard to reach. An essential skill here is to make sure the IT team is prepared to change tack at short notice to adapt to any situation. They need to be able to predict what challenges might set the business back and be flexible enough to make changes to systems with little or no notice. For example, while it’s almost impossible to predict the timing and nature of cyberattacks, having a backup plan in place that’s updated regularly to address new emerging threats helps the Optimiser stay on the front foot.
The Hybrid IT Tamer:
Strengths: The Hybrid IT Tamer is a master of the mixed environment: like the demigod Thor, they have to navigate multiple worlds. With new applications, tools, and platforms rolling in everyday it can be a challenge for some to keep on top of the changes before knowledge becomes outdated. But not for the Hybrid IT Tamer; they’re experts in renovating the old and innovating with the new to consolidate systems and reduce costs, enabling their company to stay a step ahead of the competition
Achilles Heel: A key challenge for all Hybrid IT Tamers is to get the entire workforce on board with changes to their legacy IT infrastructure, not just business leaders. The process of moving some business data and applications to a cloud environment, whether public or private, can meet with resistance. However, it can also open up an opportunity for staff to be upskilled and to manage data and applications more efficiently, freeing up IT budget for investment in innovation.
Strengths: Faced with the increasing threat of cyberattacks, not to mention environmental and terrorist threats, the Risk Eradicator needs to make sure they have the right tools in place to minimise risks and ensure any vulnerabilities are quickly resolved. Like Spiderman poised to shoot his web in the blink of an eye, the Risk Eradicator is ready for anything – poised to anticipate risk, mitigate the impact and capitalise on the outcomes. These people are the shock absorbers for companies when disaster strikes. You’ll find them constantly at work revamping production and recovery processes to keep systems in sync and cyber threats at bay.
Achilles Heel: The sheer scale and complexity involved in transforming IT systems to mitigate against threats can make eradicators wary. The increased use of IoT across industries has added a further layer of complexity to IT systems and the volume of endpoints means that visibility is often restricted, and it can be tricky to even identify every system they need to protect. Cross-functional engagement and cooperation is critical for the Risk Eradicator to ensure he or she has a full view of the potential risks and can lead the development of a robust plan.
Strengths: IT Innovators are always one step ahead of the game, they’re the champions of digital change, invigorating businesses with forward-thinking IT. They share some similarities with Batman, who works to make sure he always has the latest gadgets at his disposal to fight crime, almost pre-empting the battles he’ll need to fight. The innovators have a keen eye on wanting to put the right digital workloads on the right platforms for the right results.
Achilles Heel: While creativity and innovation are at the heart of any business dealing with technology, many have made significant investments in their legacy systems. It will take some skillful persuasion to convince leaders to make a commitment to move their systems to new, often cloud-based technology in order to capitalise on the flexibility and cost efficiency they seek. Their mandate is to get leaders onboard with their ideas as early as possible by anticipating the challenges and setting out clear objectives for the business. The need for organisations to be able to respond quickly to cyber attacks and adapt to changing regulations means that their role as champions of change is now more important than ever. Innovators need to be the link between the IT department and the wider business helping teams understand and appreciate the potential of new technology as it relates to broader the business goals.
Each of these resilience superheroes is united by their passion for overcoming the dangers of risk and complexity: their aim is to protect organisations so they can deliver on their commitments to customers, shareholders, and employees. These Resilience Heroes need the help of the wider business in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. An open dialogue between IT and employees around each individual’s roles and responsibilities when it comes to securing the business against both internal and external threats is vital. We need to work with the heroes in our IT teams to make sure we set our businesses up for success and keep the villains at arm’s length.