It’s 2022, and the coronavirus pandemic has surged back into the public consciousness. Businesses could perhaps be forgiven for throwing out their coronavirus policies in the summer, with many nations returning to normal and offices returning to full time or hybrid work. Unfortunately, nature has made fools of us all as the arrival of winter and the new Omicron variant has pitched much of the world back into a battle with the virus. For IT leaders, it is time to dust off your remote working policies and ready your impact analysis for the wide variety of possible outcomes.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the new variant is the uncertainty. When the pandemic first started to spread, governments moved almost in lockstep, locking down quickly with similar policies. Now, there is much less agreement. Some parts of the world have simply encouraged mask wearing and booster jabs, while others have gone back into full lockdowns. As winter continues in the Northern hemisphere, there is no guarantee that the current response will remain in place for any length of time. Multi-national companies will need to be particularly nimble to judge working conditions and potential business impacts across their locations.
One of the major advantages of Enterprise Architecture is how quickly different decisions and scenarios can be analyzed to help plan or quickly act. Thanks to the map of interconnections between technologies, applications, data and business assets, it is relatively trivial to produce an accurate business impact analysis that demonstrates business continuity problems and provides vital evidence for continuity planning to take place. Given that the impacts of the Omicron variant and responses to it are still developing, an impact analysis might prove vital in the coming months.
Similarly, if rapid organizational change is needed, enterprise architecture enables firms to navigate towards the desired outcome without sacrificing speed. Whether businesses will require rapid change for the Omicron variant remains to be seen, and the better prepared firms will have already laid the groundwork for an easy transition back to fully remote work, but not everyone will have that luxury. Undoubtedly, there is still room for improvement in the majority of remote working solutions currently deployed by businesses, though this may require gradual change rather than rapid change. In either case, firms that support digital transformation initiatives with enterprise architecture are consistently more successful.
In truth, there is not a lot new to say about the near future of the coronavirus pandemic. The potential for disruption to normal business operation is widely known at this point, and it mostly becomes a question of whether a company has already built in a high level of responsiveness or still needs to build it. Perhaps the only new threat is the risk of sudden, widespread absence due to so many employees being infected at once, but at worst this will strain normal operations for a week or so. A business that employs enterprise architecture, that prepares impact analyses, has clear technology roadmaps, can deploy rapid solutions and has the data to power decision making is one that is prepared for any disaster, not just the coronavirus pandemic.