IT operations teams work night and day. They keep hundreds of applications and global services running so businesses can operate. Their work is stressful and complex. Yet, prior to the pandemic, few people appreciated them. Rather than being seen as what they are–essential workers who run the basic infrastructure that keeps our economy humming–IT teams felt invisible. They were considered a tax that organizations had to pay. Nothing more, nothing less.
Imagine what that felt like. Think about the human impact of working in those conditions.
Then, COVID-19 forced a global shutdown. We realized immediately that health-care workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers and others, were essential. At the same time, organizations had to operate fully remote overnight. With no warning, IT ops had only a digital window into their organization’s operations and were tasked with ensuring business availability.
IT ops prioritize serving others
The unknowns were endless. Would they be able to keep their jobs? Were they and their families safe from the virus? With schools closed, how would they take care of their kids while they worked? Like all essential workers, IT ops prioritized serving others. They worked 24/7 to ensure that people could be fed, clothed, get the medical services needed and stay connected–all virtually.
Demand for digital services skyrocketed. COVID-19 introduced unparalleled complexity for IT ops teams to manage. Organizations were forced to put their business online overnight. Everyone had to work smarter, faster, harder. When companies had to move all their office employees to remote status virtually overnight, some workers did not even have laptops or Wi-Fi access at home. Other organizations, such as content streaming providers, saw demand explode and needed massive increases in scale, virtually overnight.
In industries such as hospitality and travel, the economic pain of the pandemic caused the immediate need to reduce headcount drastically, while still ensuring business continuity and premium service experiences for customers who all had to change their plans simultaneously.
Without IT ops, healthcare providers would not have access to the equipment, data and systems they need to provide critical care. Without IT ops, grocery stores could not operate their cash registers or take credit cards. Contactless delivery, payment and services–IT ops are the people who make that happen, too. Long-distance learning requires all teachers and students to be able to access classrooms and Wi-Fi. This put a staggering amount of pressure on IT ops, across all industries.
2021 became IT operations appreciation day, every day.
IT innovation is essential
Most large organizations’ IT infrastructure has evolved into a mix of public cloud, hybrid IT and on-prem solutions. The reality of IT ops has become much more challenging. IT ops staff are expected to ensure availability, even as new technologies, services and apps drastically change the IT environment. These same teams have to balance the demands of ensuring an organizations’ devices and technology systems are running smoothly, supporting hardware, software and internal and external IT systems. Many have to support agile DevOps teams who are making constant changes to the environment daily–sometimes to the tune of 20,000 changes a day.
In the last year, demand for technology has only increased. The economic shock set off by the pandemic has accelerated and intensified trends that were already underway. According to the Market Data Forecast, the IT industry is expected to have an enormous market boom from $131 billion in 2020 to $295 billion by 2025. This demand is driven by the hyperspeed at which organizations need to connect digitally and provide seamless interactions with their internal and external customers.
IT ops teams are the men and women who enable the adoption of cloud, CI/CD and next-generation technologies. Their technical acumen is the driving force behind organizations creating new digital experiences, products and services. What we are seeing now is that companies that built strong, resilient, agile IT environments are thriving.
When operations and infrastructure continue to grow, the ocean is only bubbling hotter and hotter with new trade-offs hitting IT ops each day. Organizations have choices. Successful organizations realize that rather than treating IT ops as a must-have cost of business, they are the heart of the organization. They enable businesses to increase velocity, be more agile and create new revenue streams. IT ops need to have a seat at the CIO’s table to help how a business can thrive and grow, even in times of hardship.
Bottom line: Next-gen IT is critical to the future of companies and IT Ops professionals should be treated as the essential workers they are.