By Andy Jonak
We are definitely in extraordinary times with what is happening with COVID-19 or the coronavirus. I don't recall a time or situation like where we are now, as the closest I can think of is 9/11. I live on Long Island and was stuck in NJ that day and couldn't come home, so I had to (and was fortunate enough to) find a hotel for that night, which was nothing compared to the tragedy many others suffered. But extraordinary times are now with us and effecting people with businesses and schools are on lockdown with everyone practicing (or supposed to be practicing) social distancing. This month my message is straightforward: Be safe and be prepared.
Everything in life and the business world is fragile. Look at how things have been affected by all that is happening. Work shuts down, schools shut down, people have to stay home. Are we all ready and prepared for that? Both on a personal and a work level?
From a personal level, we all know what we need to do: stay home, social distancing, have enough essentials to get by, and the many other things you need to do to keep you and your families safe.
But it affects our business as well. This means that we should all be prepared for when things like can potentially happen. It's a difficult thing to think through, in that what is happening now is such a rare thing (a black swan as many call it), where many will undoubtedly say, how can we foresee something like this happening? The answer is to do the best that we can with the situation we are thrust into. As if we have a choice.
This virus situation will have a tremendous impact on businesses going forward, and many will not fare well. It's a terrible thing. So what can companies do today?
For these unforeseeable situations, we must try to be the best prepared we can. NYS has issued a work from home order for all but essential industries, where IT is considered essential. We are allowed to have a small number of people at our office to do work, as we still configure systems and ship them to our customers, who need them now in this time of crisis. But there is an irony in that, and it's this: most of the IT world can generally work from home, or any place outside of an office, as that's a big part of the information society we live in today. A small percentage of the people that work for Vicom actually need to be in the office to perform their job functions.
That's certainly not the case with so many other industries and the people that are part of those industries, and my heart goes out to them. I believe that this situation with the coronavirus will permanently change the landscape of business. Are we all going to be selling the same solutions and the same services in the same way as we were in the past? Us and all other businesses there? I don't believe so.
So what can you do during these times? Because everyone is generally required to work from home, firms and people need the tools necessary to be able to do that. That's why there is a significant uptick in firms using Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Team, Zoom, and others. Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom are making it very easy for firms to sign up for their solutions by giving 90 days and, in some cases, up to 6-month trials. It's the right thing to do and makes good business sense. A lot of firms are asking us to get them and up and running with one of these solutions right away. And by right away, they want it done within hours or the same day.
I hope you have the solutions you need to keep your business running as required. Many of the people that read my blog are in the IT world—and therefore at the forefront of innovation—so they (and we all) know how to find solutions to help us do what we need to keep going. We need to see the types of innovation that happen in IT across all industries by coming up with new ways to keep their businesses running while also giving them the ability to thrive—during these trying times and when they pass. Will we be able to do that? Honestly, I don't know, but I believe and pray we will. I always try to be a glass half full person and try to look towards what is right, and that has served me well. I hope it does now, too, as well as everyone else.
So do what you have to do to get through these trying times. When it comes to the tools and things you need for your IT, make sure you have them and a plan in place, so you have what you need to keep going. And remember that your IT solution and service providers are here to help in whatever way we can, as we are still out there doing business as well.
So stay safe, everyone, and we'll get through this all together if we have a plan and honestly believe that we will. I know I do. Be safe and be prepared.