The role of leadership in creating a resilient organisation

Summary of Sungard Availability Services Digital Boardroom - Wednesday 15th July 2020

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What are the major challenges you and your organisations have faced during this crisis?

As a result of the crisis, the challenges executives have experienced cover most of the business. Some have seen their business come to a complete standstill and so working out how to weather the storm and help their employees and customers through it to come out the other side still in business is their main concern.

For others who are continuing to operate but at a different pace or in different ways, they have faced challenges with employees working remotely and advances being made in digital offerings, drops in revenue and available money in the budget, aging systems which need to be updated and made more agile and flexible, and creating collaboration between different teams and departments, sometimes across borders.

Other challenges include increased security threats as work is taking out of the office, keeping regulators happy, and as we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, deciding which employees can remain working remotely and which need need to come back into the office, while ensuring the mental and physical health of all people associated with the organisation is put first.

Observations from conversations with customers

The goal of networking is to connect data to users, whether that be end users or internal users, and nowadays it is becoming increasingly necessary for responses to occur quicker and be instantly accessible, more so today than ever before. The challenge that everyone in the IT environment has endured is that IT is still seen as a cost and not an enabler. Some companies see it as the way to enable a transition period, but cost is still the keyword we are seeing.

This has a number of impacts for customers; as cost has been the driver, most enterprise landscapes are sized for the BAU environment, which is usually more office based and data centres and structured around that. However this has been completely changed now as a result of the crisis and people working remotely.

The basics in networking and IT structure which have been observed for some time are:

  • Scale- many have been able to flex their bandwidth to deal with the increase in activity during lockdowns, however most times the end devices have not been able to cope. Flows have gone up dramatically unexpectedly and many have needed to use DR links meaning they are vulnerable for a backup or continuity perspective.
  • Security- some security devices have not been able to cope with the new normal. There has been ‘relaxing’ of some policies due to UX challenges, however criminals are using this extended footprint to phish and use malware attacks.
  • Control- where people are using unsecured Wi-Fi, this leads to a lot of shadow IT where people are sidestepping the infrastructure and security that comes with it.
  • Compliance- the laws still apply even though some health and safety has been overlooked. However with the government, once there is money to be held, the blind eye will not be turned for much longer.

Do you view IT as a cost or an enabler?

Opinion is divided on the subject depending on the industry and the age or stage the business is currently in, from needing to buy brand new equipment for the tasks needed and  ensuring the safety of staff on their return to offices, to allowing businesses to bring new offerings to customers. However, the pandemic has resulted in most businesses taking big steps needed to evolve in the changing world, some accelerated from their initial roadmap, some being forced to consider plans never dreamt of until they became necessary.

Innovation comes from within from those who know the business rather than consultants. Is there a way to allow the mundane tasks to take place outside the business to allow more innovation from employees?

While the desire is there for this to be the case, there is no one size fits all solution to allow this to happen. Also, the culture of the business can impact how it is managed and run as organisations will have their own bespoke ways of doing business.


‘In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one.’ Napoleon Boneparte

You may have all the tools you need at your disposal, but if you lack spirit and leadership, it amounts to nothing. Pre COVID-19, many processes were set in stone and lacked flexibility and so were unable to adapt to the crisis. The pandemic has been a stress test for many existing business models, especially with regards to the rigidity of supply chains, impacting delivery, demand, and staffing.

Good leaders need to know what a business has available to them and what the problems they have or will experience are and be able to be flexible, agile and adaptable to any possible situation. The current crisis is a prime example of that as no one could have predicted what would occur or still could happen in the future. And now it’s happened once, who is to say it can’t happen again?

Four key factors identified for strong leadership are: 

  • Instilling a sense of purpose
  • Knowing your team
  • Honesty and trust to bring people with you on the journey
  • Being comfortable making decisions in a world with imperfect information

In your experience, what is the most important trait for leadership from this experience?

On top of the examples given, there is a fear that culture can move too fast for the organisation to catch up. Therefore there is a need to move culture and the organisation concurrently to close the gap and align with technological and economical changes. You can have the best capabilities in the world, but without culture, you can’t utilise them properly. There is also a focus on being authentic. Trust is a combination of many things, mainly bringing value to what you say, walking the walk and talking the talk.

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Global CIO Institute

Administrator, GB Intelligence Ltd

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