Covid-19 unearthed a significant number of unsung heroes within organizations, who typically fly under the radar but play an integral role in keeping businesses operable. IT professionals fit perfectly within that category and their importance in helping companies transition into remote working cannot be overstated.
Throughout the pandemic, IT teams have been providing support remotely while juggling the introduction of new devices, new networks and all of the security risks that come along with working from home. To acknowledge IT Pro Day 2020, we spoke to nine industry experts about the critical role that IT professionals have played in allowing organizations to continue operations remotely.
Commitment Through Covid
The pandemic certainly posed a significant challenge to IT teams, but the hard work and dedication from professionals has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a challenging year so far and the impact of the global pandemic has touched each and every one of us,” explains Stephen Roostan, Vice President, EMEA at Kenna Security. “IT Pro Day is the perfect platform to celebrate the work of IT teams who’ve burned the midnight oil to keep us connected wherever we found ourselves, and with whatever kit we had!
“They’ve had to ensure their cyber defenses remained robust and capable of dealing with the increased attack vector the overnight BYOD / WFH model has created. The volume of alerts they will have had to deal with will have sky-rocketed, that’s for sure.”
Mihir Shah, Chief Executive Officer at StorCentric agrees that IT professionals have been critical in keeping businesses secure, noting that they have “become extra vigilant as ransomware has also spread viciously.”
Shah continues: “Unfortunately, backups have become the latest malware target, as evolving and more sophisticated ransomware attacks now not only seek to attack onsite production data, but every possible copy, wherever the copies reside.”
Covering all bases
External problems haven’t been the only worry for IT teams during the pandemic. The balance between keeping businesses secure and maintaining company productivity proves just how crucial IT professionals are, according to Craig Fulton, Chief Customer Officer at ConnectWise.
“In addition to acting as the backbone of the organization, IT professionals focus their time on protecting businesses from security attacks, troubleshooting and saving the company from productivity-killing downtime. Initiatives like IT Pro Day allow us to celebrate the vital role of IT professionals and acknowledge the many ways they help organizations achieve their full potential.”
As part of this balancing act, Colin Christianson, Director & Chief Product Architect at Aqilla, admits that IT professionals will have also had to find creative solutions to strictly on-premises processes.
“Not only will IT pros have focused on their daily tasks, they will also have had the added pressure of helping the business successfully transition to remote working, helping maintain uptime as well as continuing on-going development of the technology.
“IT professionals will have likely had the task of moving from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based one to ensure business continuity. This will have been a lot of weight on their shoulders, so it’s important to give them the recognition they deserve.”
A deeper appreciation
Before the pandemic, IT professionals typically seemed like another cog in the machine, but StorCentric’s Shah does not dispute their importance at all: "IT professionals can sometimes be overlooked, despite just how vital their presence is.
“What most people forget is that these IT professionals are the backbone of virtually every successful organization and work tirelessly to ensure infrastructure is protected, services are kept running, and their end users are provided with efficient ways to work.”
The sentiment is shared by Bob Potter, Chief Executive Officer at SentryOne, who has a simple, yet clear message.
“Downtime that prevents employees and users alike from accessing databases would have a huge financial impact, particularly at this time where every penny counts, and so the IT professionals working hard behind the scenes to keep these up and running have been, and continue to be, extremely valuable. To appreciate their efforts, IT Pro Day acknowledges the difficulties of the job of these pros, and encourages all businesses to say: thank you!”
Agata Nowakowska, Assistant Vice President at Skillsoft recognizes the need for further support towards IT professionals, which in turn benefits their organizations as a whole.
“By its very nature, the IT professional role is complex with the specific requirements for technical fluency varying greatly from one company to another. Therefore, IT pros need to continually upskill to keep up with the constant evolution of technology, either on the job, or by studying for an official IT certification.
“This year we should celebrate IT Pro Day by giving recognition to IT professionals for all their hard work to ensure businesses keep going, and by increasing the ongoing support and training we offer people in this essential role.”
Looking to the future
Technology develops at a rapid pace, and IT professionals have to remain on top of this evolution in order to keep their companies relevant. “As we begin looking toward what comes next, I encourage IT pros to stay curious,” advises Richard Hamaker, Human Resources Business Partner at Leaseweb Global. “Having curious and adaptable team members enables an organization to themselves be adaptable: to challenge an idea, to improve it. These are all mission-critical capabilities in our current economic climate.
“IT pros around the world have learned with each curveball and thus constantly further developing their knowledge and expertise. This commitment to learning, adapting and evolving has allowed them to continue adding immeasurable value for both end-users and customers alike.”
As we look to move away from the pandemic, Richard Cassidy, Senior Director of Security Strategy at Exabeam, argues that IT professionals need to be better appreciated by their own team - or risk growth of the skills shortage.
“Year after year, hiring and retaining strong IT professionals continues to be a challenge. According to the latest SOC Report, an undefined career path (64 percent), high stress (45 percent) and poor leadership (27 percent) are among the top reasons why we lose good frontline employees.
“With these statistics and the widening technology talent gap in mind, cybersecurity leaders need to recognize the value in their teams, working harder to retain their talent in the fight against cybercrime.”
As part of this appreciation and recognition of hard work, further investment to help support IT professionals will make a significant difference to their day-to-day tasks, an action that Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Director Technical Marketing at Zerto, claims is necessary.
"The best thing a company can do this year to support IT pros is to invest in tools that can help them enable IT resilience – combatting downtime once and for all. Ultimately, IT pros need tools that are easy and simple to use, multi-purpose, work across all types of infrastructure, and are ready to adapt to the ever-evolving innovation needs of an organization. This is critical to ensuring IT pros can focus on adding value - ensuring IT is running smoothly, rather than spending precious time recovering from downtime that could have been prevented."
Covid-19 showed exactly why IT professionals are the unsung heroes of their organizations. Without them, the jump into remote working could have been catastrophic for many businesses. IT Pro Day seeks to show IT teams just how valuable they are to a company, but their work throughout the whole of 2020 certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.