IT Strategies in the Post-Pandemic Era: Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning© Series 9781665738569, 9781665738552, 1665738561

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IT Strategies in the Post-Pandemic Era: Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning© Series
 9781665738569, 9781665738552, 1665738561

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Copyright © 2023 Bruce Michelson.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  This book is a work of non-fiction. Unless otherwise noted, the author and the publisher make no explicit guarantees as to the accuracy of the information contained in this book and in some cases, names of people and places have been altered to protect their privacy.

  Archway Publishing 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 844-669-3957

  Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or

links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those

of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

  ISBN: 978-1-6657-3856-9 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-6657-3855-2 (e)

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2023902660

  Archway Publishing rev. date:   03/13/2023


  About the Author



  Chapter   New Post-Pandemic IT World

  Chapter   IT Budget

  Chapter   Trends Were Already Here

  Chapter   Stakes

  Chapter   Headwinds”

  Chapter   have a management problem.”


  Chapter   “Headwinds”


Chapter   Strategy

  Chapter Conference Room


  Chapter Turnover and the Pandemic

  Chapter Recovery

  Chapter Importance of Communications

  Chapter Industries Will Lag

  Chapter Culture

  Chapter and Other Disruptions

  Chapter of the Future

  Chapter Future as We “Know” It

  Chapter Concepts

  Chapter Sets of the Future

  Chapter Delivery Strategies

  Chapter Habits Have Changed - IT Impact

  Chapter Driven IT

  Chapter in the Post-Pandemic Era

  Chapter Stewardship

  Chapter the Agile Business

  Chapter End User Experience Versus Cost




  Bruce Michelson

  Bruce Michelson is an HP Distinguished Technologist (Emeritus) and the Manager of Close Loop LLC. Bruce has over 36+ years in delivering industry white papers and customer engagements. Bruce has delivered over 1,000+ white papers and over 350+ engagements.      As an author of 7 books regarding IT lifecycle management and industry segments, Bruce has numerous copyrights and patents. These copyrights and patents include expertise in User Lifecycle Management, Cost of The Ready and Appropriate Incumbent      Bruce is presently an adjunct at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, teaching IT in health care and advanced systems design.


  This is my book about various topics in IT. Writing a book is an investment of time and energy that we as authors consciously commit. Our families also are a significant part of the writing process. The ups and downs, the days of writer’s block, and of flashes of enthusiasm are part of the writing process.      My wife of over 39 years, Victoria Macy, has provided me the support and guidance along the way through all of the books. Support includes being a part of the sounding board for observations and conclusions as well as insight into experiences. Support also includes the time away, simply writing.      My son Charles, has been a part of the review cycle for several of my books, including this writing. A writer himself, Charles has been an integral part of building the narratives and putting dialogs behind the words.      To my family, Victoria and Charles, thank you for the support over the years as we focused on new and interesting topics. Your insight has been valuable and quite unique. I am a better writer and person for your involvement. I could not have done these books without both of you.


  The impact of the pandemic should never be lost. The human toll taken, the emotional trauma resulting, and the overall changes brought because of the altering of our lifestyles should not ever be minimized.      This book, like many others, focuses on a time, post-pandemic, and views the changes that the pandemic brought to certain industries and disciplines. We must continue to remember that if not for the remarkable resilience of many selfless persons, the outcomes could be altered.      The author recognizes and thanks the front line and essential workers who despite all of the risks and concerns continued to do what they do best - help and guide others.      These people are truly remarkable and represent the best in character and actions. The term “hero” is perhaps used too often in our world today, but seems absolutely appropriate for this group of role models.



The New PostPandemic IT World

  A T THE TIME OF THIS book being written, we appear to be entering the endemic stage of the pandemic. This does not mean that the pandemic is at an end, only that we are entering another phase of the pandemic itself.      The pandemic has had the impact of accelerating many of the trends in IT that were already occurring, although at a different pace of adoption. As a result of quarantines and other restrictions, new service delivery models were defined and delivered by IT.      Working from home, learning from home, and other remote strategies were designed and implemented in a very short timeframes, out of necessity.      IT was not only up to this challenge, they excelled. In a matter of weeks, end users were aligned to their home offices, as an example, where they become very productive, very quickly. Similarly, remote learning became available for both higher education and K12.      Almost every vertical industry was further enabled by IT strategies accelerated by the pandemic. Examples in bulleted format below, include such industries:

  - Online retail - Telemedicine and Health Care - Remote collaboration among teams - Remote customer engagement

- Increased automation for insurance - Remote banking

- Public sector

       The list is literally endless. The point is that the pandemic brought IT innovation to address problems that were never anticipated. The credibility and skills that IT brought to the industry and to the population cannot be over stated. Being able to drive a new workplace model for end users across the country (and the world) in a seamless manner is the literal definition of innovation.      While the innovation occurred, the ongoing operational support models were changing as well. Support strategies needed to be changed from onsite to remote alternatives. End user selfenablement models and tools needed to be created and in many cases modernized.      Every industry had its own sets of challenges with both enablers and inhibitors. It is important to remember that there remained during the pandemic mission critical roles such as first responders, health care professionals, customer facing personnel, and others for whom the onsite work continued. It is our fervent hope that their commitment and well-being continues to be recognized and their efforts rewarded.      The post-pandemic transition will be part of what Closed Loop Lifecycle believes will be the single greatest transition in our IT industry. Migrating from a device and IT centric model to an end user, services, cloud based infrasturure is the ultimate definition of transformation.

     In this post-pandemic world, transformation is overused and perhaps consciously so. Transformation implies a forward looking, planned strategy for the future. However, the post-pandemic “transformation” is more of a modernization from decades old legacy IT strategies.      For many businesses in the post-pandemic era, legacy is a serious inhibitor to innovation. Legacy applications are prevalent in every industry. In many cases the legacy applications represent a mission critical requirement of the business. Replacing these applications requires significant capital and therefore the replacement is deferred as long as possible.      The pandemic accentuated a focus on the network and access. With the changing topology and design of end user working from home and remotely, the challenges were clear. All of the years that businesses invested in the networking infrasturure was now paying dividends.      In a similar manner, the investment that businesses made in collaboration while it may have seemed cost prohibitive prepandemic, now represents an expectation of end users.      Closed Loop Lifecycle draws a distinction between transformation, transition, and modernization. Transformation suggests a significant change or a wholesale change for new solutions. The entrance and exit costs are identifiable and often quite significant.      Transition is more tactical and focuses on the business as usual improvements, not a wholesale review of policy, process, and procedures.      Modernization is more of a migration. Identifying lifecycle gaps where automation and cloud based solutions can provide

ubiquitous access is much different than fully re-architecting from “scratch” a new IT strategy.      Modernization is a repeatable solution (wash-rinse-repeat) whereas transformation is more like “consultant-speak” which suggests a “bigger scope to be addressed”.      Unlike transformation, modernization does not need to be disruptive to the end users since the architecture is to improve the legacy, not to fully eliminate it. How the work is performed is changing, but not the actual work.      Think about the end user’s retail online experience. Do the end users (now customers) really care how and where the order is fulfilled? The pandemic increased end users and customers reliance on programmed interfaces and an ease of use.      For years, and even longer, end users in business have always asked for internal IT to be more like their retail experience. Our answer has almost always been - “we cannot afford it.” Postpandemic, the answer is - “we cannot afford not to do it.”      This post-pandemic world for IT will look and feel more like a retail experience because it is precisely that - leveraging the cloud based access through a solid connectivity plan. Applications are being modernized and planned for the cloud.      During the post-pandemic era we are already beginning to observe the implications for decades old applications being used today.      The post-pandemic world will require application modernization. Taking the legacy applications that in many industries are well over decades old (not an exaggeration), and modernizing those applications for the cloud is a critical action to be taken.

     Previous transformations such as distributed client server, merely delayed the inevitable. There are only so many times applications can be updated, modified, re-written, and such with becoming a performance and security issue.      Tech Debt is the term used to define the economics associated with furthering the useful life of the application suite. The applications can no longer be transformed, they must be modernized or replaced.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded that perhaps the root cause of the Tech Debt is the previous years’ transformation projects very much heralded by third parties really did not transform the application base. Who would have thought?      In this book, a new methodology is introduced - Behavior Driven IT. In the post-pandemic era, there needs to be a methodology to create a framework to assist IT and the business to understand and internalize the lessons learned. The workforce represents the strength of most organizations and also potentially the most challenging to change.      Behavior Driven IT is a specific response to end user demand for IT to implement change rapidly based upon solid input. Much of this insight is gained from data analytics. The next generations entering the workforce have not been subtle about their set of expectations of their employers.      The technologies, software, services, and hardware are the staples of IT, but the results on innovation must be delivered to the end users to be relevant. We will spend much time in this book focusing on the changing of behavior as a counter measure for security, cost, and experience.



The IT Budget

  T HE IT BUDGET IS AN annual and in motion activity in every organization. Most businesses have a year-to- year budget cycle which occurs annually, and covers a 3 year horizon operationally. This is often referred to as the current budget cycle.      Beyond the current budget cycle, which is an operational working process, there is a more strategic budget with a longer planning horizon which approaches 4 to 5 years, and often beyond. The 4 to 5 year horizon is where transition, transformation, or sea change budgeting often occurs.      The annual budgeting cycle is aligned with current revenues, expenses, headcount, and current market conditions. For the most part, IT is asked to do more, with less, and in many cases do more with significantly less.      Expectations are that year-to-year; IT is expected to reduce the expenses (the IT spend) in a range of 5% to 10% per year. This percentage aligns with the operational definition of a continuous process improvement plan. The challenge that IT faces, however, is reducing the cost while at the same time determining the investment required to modernized the IT infrasturure.      If the budgets for 2023, 2024, and beyond look familiar, or in essence follow the same elements operationally, that may represent an issue to be addressed. Applying the previous year’s investments to an emerging post-pandemic environment may not result in the ability to attract, recruit, and retain top talent.      Additionally, creating a world class or IT best practice level may be inhibited by funding legacy solutions without a focus on any

new or future directions.      Some businesses have taken the strategy of providing a 2budget approach. The first budget is the current environmental budget. This is the ongoing funding vehicle for the BAU (business as usual) model. This budget is operational and would include the continuous process improvement adjustments to optimize the current IT infrastructure.      The BAU budget stands on its own and is required for the day-to-day support of the business. IT is tasked with creating the continuous process improvement plans and the timing when those elements can be introduced to reduce the cost for IT services.      The second budget is often referred to as an ancillary or supplemental budget. In essence, the supplemental budget like the BAU operational budget is a standalone funding request. The supplemental budget is not dependent upon the BAU budget approval.      The supplemental budget includes elements that are outside of the BAU budget and require incremental funding to plan, design, architect, and implement any of the modern, automated solutions.      Once implemented, the supplemental budget would include a maintenance phase which becomes the basis of the new BAU operational budget.      In the first chapter of this book, we discussed Tech Debt. Tech Debt describes the costs of legacy applications. The IT 2023/2024 budgets very likely needs to consider how to address Tech Debt. By not including Tech Debt in the budget, the business may be at risk in terms of identifying timely alternatives that can address the required functionality.

     Older software (and we are talking decades in many cases) simply is not as secure nor robust enough to migrate to modern management, the cloud, and in some cases even virtually. Investments will be required. Before the actual work commences on an application, there must be a plan defined with resources, both funding and labor, to address Tech Debt.      Without such an inclusion, the 2023 budget ignores the requirement. Many businesses still seek a “silver bullet” of some sort to mitigate application investments, however, the reality is that at some point, older applications “hit the wall” and cannot deliver the value required, or represent a risk in operations.      Application functionality changes based upon business requirements, industry trends, end user experience, and a host of other considerations. Tech Debt addresses these issues and probably the most important part of this narrative, determines what the plan is to move forward. The 2023 IT budget should be the catalyst for this optimization.      There is yet another perspective on the 2023 IT budget. As the business considers new approaches, many IT organizations may simply call 2023 a “time out.” Taking a deep breath considering all that everyone has been through may not be seen as deferring decisions and investments, but rather taking a longer view to see precisely what the post-pandemic environment overall might look like for the business.      The philosophy here may well be - “if we do not need to make a decision, we could wait for more clarity.”      The challenge in this perspective is the assumption that time and clarity are aligned. It is quite possible, and perhaps likely, that

more clarity will not occur, rather more complications will set in making decisions for budgets more complex.      Often overlooked in the budgeting process is the continuous process improvement plans. Often the continuous process improvement plan is anecdotal, and not well documented. The role of the end users in reducing the IT budget, in considering self-enablement as an example, is particularly overlooked. That is one of the basic rationales for the chapter discussing Behavior Driven IT.      In the post-pandemic IT budget, if the continuous process improvement is not specifically a line item in the budget, or is considered aspirational, there needs to be a process for inclusion. In financial statements the footnote is often leveraged for clarification and perhaps identifying items and elements that could potentially impact the financials, in this case the IT budget.      Responsibility accounting would suggest that the continuous process improvement represents a source and use of working capital and at a minimum should be identified so that the supplementary budgets would not be a surprise.      Businesses always have aspirational goals and objectives. Much of the time these aspirational goals are not included in the budgets, but informally are being worked, sometimes behind the scenes. All of us have observed so called “pet projects” that certain leaders, managers, or technologists might have in their vision that have not made it through the budget process.      Working outside of approved and resourced projects in the post-pandemic era may strain already scarce resources. Caution needs to be exercised and focus needed to be on the funded and approved projects.

     If the work is research to plan for a proposal for a new project, that is well within the guidelines of most organizations. It is when the “pet projects” take on more than their unfair share of resources and compete with vetted, approved, and sponsored projects that conflict may develop.

  Project versus Program

       Many businesses have a specific project budget process. This budget is beyond the traditional and existing budget process. The project budget identifies an initiative that carries its own resource, investment, headcount and architectural plan.      Projects carry a perception that this is a relatively short term initiative with tactical implications. Often a project requires a rather “bursty” set of investments to complete the project. The further perception is that projects do not fully alter the architecture of the organization. A project often specifically addresses an update, feature set, or similar scoped change.      Programs, on the other hand, are strategic. Programs do change the IT infrasturure and often the related deliverables. Programs have a connotation as being more robust and complex than a project.      Programs often have a perception of marketing as contrasted to projects which has the perception of technical solutions. Organizationally, program is somewhat of a marketing term and project is a technical term. However, many businesses use these terms interchangeably, with little, if any differentiation.

     In the post-pandemic era, operational definitions matter. As IT moves to re-align its strategies, Closed Loop Lifecycle urges a clearer operational definition of project and programs for purposes of relating to the path that IT is taking for alignment.      For clarity purposes, Closed Loop Lifecycle provides these operational definitions that follow for the post-pandemic era. In lifecycle management everything should have an operational definition so that all members of the team are not only on the same page, but understand the problem(s) being addressed.

  Project Operational Definition

       An IT project is a process to plan, design, implement, and maintain an IT initiative that creates a tactical, often technical, solution. The change for a project is often viewed in the context of an enhancement requiring some sort of A project does not change the overall architecture of IT strategic direction.      In a similar line of thinking, a project manager is an experienced leader who is focused on delivering a statement of work driven project on time and on budget. The project manager is very focused on the scope of the project. Scope creep is the “enemy” of a project. Scope creep occurs when there are nonrequired or non-approved (at least initially) changes to the overall deliverables of the project itself. In IT, projects are typically technical in nature and outcomes.      Many projects fail because the scope creep fundamentally changes the outcome, and the process for approvals and inclusion are not adhered to in the overall process.

     Often project managers are already on staff working other assigned projects. Assignment to net new projects often await the conclusion of existing projects.

  Program Operational Definition

       An IT program is a process to plan, design, implement, and maintain an IT initiative that creates a strategic often a business and technical solution effecting service delivery. The change for a program is often viewed in the context of a changing an architecture requiring some sort of A program changes the overall architecture of IT strategic direction.      Just as there is a fundamental difference in projects and programs, there are fundamental differences in project managers and program managers. Program managers focus on not only technical orientation but on the strategic, business and governance associated with a significant change in architecture or service delivery strategies.      It is often that a program manager will have several project managers working within the program itself. Programs are often multi-year and impact multi-disciplines within an organization. A Program Manager may have similar credentials to a project manager, but likely more of a business governance perspective.

  Observations and Conclusions Regarding Projects and Programs        It is important to note that in all organizations there will be both resources required to deliver both projects and programs.

Programs will almost always have a number of projects that aggregate to the overall program itself. Programs might require a level of subject matter expertise that may, or may not, suggest the engagement of a third party for that expertise.      Many businesses use the terms interchangeably, but the distinction needs to be made by management to embrace and support the level of change and adoption that each operational definition represents. Both project and programs require sponsorship of the leadership and well as stakeholders.      It should be noted that there are two distinguishable types of project and program managers. There is a skill set and persona that is an expert in driving change itself, introducing new processes, and defining innovative solutions. These project and program managers thrive on the planning, designing, and implementation activities that can fundamentally change an organization.      The level of activity and the type of activity is a significant part of why these project and program managers are successful.      Once the implementation is completed, these same individuals are ready to move on, and may become “bored” if the ongoing maintenance of the project or program is their responsibility. It could be said that it is prudent to have the project and program managers support their handiwork, and that may be valid for a specific timeframe, but in all likelihood, these managers would be seeking a handoff to someone skilled in the ongoing support.      Recruiting and retaining the skilled project and program managers will always represent a challenge. Project and program managers will always be in demand and there will always be change for that role to drive.

     It should also be noted that the roles of the project and program managers is very stressful. The project and program managers will not be the most popular persons in the organization. Driving change is always stressful particularly if you are the person driving that agenda.      Everyone likes to say that “they are open and receptive to change”. Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded in the cost of change discipline that - “change by its very nature is unsettling.” Frustrations are frequently associated to projects and programs.      Nothing is worse than being a change agent in an organization that resists change. Project and program managers are “change agents”.      Businesses need to be aware of “burnout” associated with these critical positions since the talent is a challenge to retain.      Retaining senior, experienced project managers will always remain a challenge in the industry, regardless of the sector. Retention is critical, particularly if a business has a range of projects funded and ready to be launched. Project managers, like all employees, want to know and be assured that there is “the next” project identified so they do not need to seek out their next position.



The Trends Were Already Here

  M ANY, IF NOT ALL, OF the trends that were accelerated by the pandemic were well in motion prior to the pandemic itself. In some cases, the trends were well under way, while others were gaining traction. Regardless, the circumstances related to the pandemic, accelerated all of the trends in dramatic fashion.      This chapter deals with some of the trends, but not all. The focus is to provide specific examples where the trends exists and was amplified by the pandemic. Moreover, it is important to place the trends in context and understand the drivers of these trends in the first place.      As Essential IT examines the trends, the planning for each of these trends becomes necessary to have a definitive practice level established for IT and the business.      The trends to be discussed in this chapter include:

  - The Changing Demographics - The Hybrid Workplace - Collaboration - Modern Management - User Segmentation / Personas - Portals

       This is by no means the complete list of trends. It is important to understand that within each vertical sector, there are trends that are unique to their industry and their businesses.

  The Changing Demographics

       The shift in demographics has been in motion for quite a while. At the time of this writing, there are 5 generations in the workforce, with a generation beginning to commence entering the workforce.      The range of the workforce includes:

  • Traditionalists • Baby Boomers • Generation X • Millennials • Generation Z

       On the cusp is the most recent workforce referred to as Alphas. While it is widely acknowledged that Millennials and GenZ represent the most technical workforce ever, the Alphas will be the generation that takes the innovations and potentially operationalizing much of it and making it mainstream. The innovation and experience driven by Millennials and GenZ will become entitlements in the Alpha generation.      Each generation has a particular affinity, or in some cases a lack of affinity, for technology. However, it is fair to suggest that every generation is adapting to the technological footprint that drives our day-to-day lives.      It is also fair to suggest that the consumer experience which includes retail, health care and financial services (as examples)

reflect the growing trend towards the consumerization of IT which has long been desired by business end users.      During the pandemic with the quarantines, masking policies, and various personal preferences, online become the new norm. As people became more familiar with the technology, there was a related comfort level in the usage.      Millennials and GenZ (and soon to be Alphas) have grown up with technology and are acknowledged to be the most technically advanced generations ever in the workforce. Their participation in the workforce will drive change. As other generations gain experience in the technology and the comfort levels increase, there will be more general adoption.      For quite a long time (perhaps decades) IT has sought to drive self-enablement. In many situations the technology simply for internal usage was not as robust and end user friendly as consumer systems. In addition, without the generational shift, there was a sense of IT entitlement such as desk side support, high touch, and other IT support. After all, the argument goes “why should I do IT’s work since they still offer to perform the same work with no consequences.”      This statement reflects one of the fundamental issues historically with self-enablement - it is aspirational that end users would engage and perform such repetitive tasks such as password reset. However, when this movement did not occur, IT remained in that business and continues to offer the precise support that it is trying to exit.      We now find that the next generation in the workforce may actually prefer self-enablement and will drive adoption. This trend combined with the impact of remote work with the pandemic, has

created a new synergy that drives more widespread adoption for new services for IT and the business.      It is frequently assumed that Traditionalists and Baby Boomers are more resistant to change and adopting new technologies. While this is a general observation by many, it may or may not be correct depending upon the scope.      For example, social media is widely used in all generations for various reasons. Across all generations social media is adopted, but perhaps at different usage rates and reasons. The point is that in the post-pandemic era, it is important not to presume adoption by demographics. A lot will depend upon what is being asked, and the comfort level and familiarity in the adoption.      In schools there is curriculum being delivered to educate students on the use of technology. By the time of high school, most students will be well versed in fundamentals of mobility, applications, and operating technology.

  The Hybrid Workplace

       Working from home is not new, it has been around and available for quite a while. In some cases, the working from home has been available for certain roles well over two decades. For those professionals in sales, services, support, consulting and other roles that require travel, working from home has been a continuing part of the portfolio. For many organizations, working from home (remote work) has been a staple of specific roles in the field, across multiple industries.

     For these roles, working from home is part of the recuring strategies for those “road warriors” who see little value of coming into a corporate facility given their work assignment.      For the past several years (yes, decades again) remote learning was established as another norm. Focusing on the work/life balance, many students were able to gain degrees, take courses, and continues education remotely. Both undergraduate and graduate level course were developed and delivered. For K-12, curriculum software was developed to take advantage of remote learning as well.      Currently there is ongoing discussions and many points of view regarding the success of remote education. A lot of the answers to this question is what grade levels are being considered and what courses, or curriculum, is being considered.      During the pandemic, it was assumed that an in class teacher, instructor, or professor, would have their in-class presence translate to the internet. What was discovered was that being a great in-person teacher may not, and in some cases did not, convert to the new online mediums.      Part of the reason for this included the readiness of the course materials, but also the training of the instructors. In many cases it was not the knowledge of the course content, it was the delivery itself.      Closed Loop Lifecycle concluded that - “stage presence and stage craft plays a predominant role in the success of online teaching.”      The assumption that the in-class and remote personas would be transferable is subject to challenge. The same logic, only to draw a parallel, is that many people believe that they are funny,

and could do stand-up comedy. But the skills required, the timing, the sense of reading the audience (which when you are remote is its own challenge), and the delivery are considerably different.      Aside from the operational aspects of assuring the students are participants and not just being present is another type of stage craft conversation.      It would be an error to assume that this is only an education type of issue. Most end users in business will tell you that they have learned to “multi-task” when on conference calls and webcasts during office hours. Multi-taking is a code word perhaps for “not paying attention” and compares to the education analogy.      The pandemic created the impetus for all end users to work from home (remote work). The term work from home has a specific operational definition which is important. Work from home specifically identifies that the end user (employee) home is the primary location where the employee performs assigned work.      Remote work has a different operational definition. This definition indicated that the work to be performed could be at home, but could include other locations such as hotels, coffee shops, multiple corporate locations, etc. This distinction is not subtle. The networking security, system performance, and the end user experience are all defined by the network architectures.      The pandemic resulted in all employees, not only those with specific titles or work assignments, to be considered for home offices. Large numbers of employees became home based.      IT overall was up to the challenge and in most cases, the transition to a home office or remote strategy was heartily embraced, and represented one of IT’s shining accomplishments to the population.

     There has been a subtle name change, okay, perhaps not so subtle, which can be directly attributed to the pandemic - hybrid work. Hybrid work is an attempt by the businesses to “fingerprint” the balance between work/life, the workplace, and the trends which this book addresses.      Hybrid work recognizes that many end users in the workforce prefer self-determination of where they perform the work assigned. To be clear, some end users may well prefer an in corporate office setting. However, it is clear that end users prefer to be the ones making that choice.      The middle ground as established by many businesses include:

  - 2 to 3 days in a corporate office - 2 days or so working from home (my best guess is Mondays and Fridays)

       This is the emerging hybrid model. At the same time there will be end users who:

  - Work out of the corporate facility full time - Work from home or remotely full time

       In the emerging hybrid models, the front line managers play an integral role in determination of where work is performed.      It should be noted in this chapter, that senior leaders have not been silent about their preferences, both pro and con of the new hybrid model. It is interesting in this era of end user centricity to

view such outspoken positioning which in some cases challenges the end user choice.      In a sense, the pandemic represented the catalyst for the changing office strategies of many organizations. Businesses already has certain end users who consistently worked remotely or from home. This is an entitlement based upon their roles. The pandemic focused on getting work done, not the role or entitlement since everyone was entitled and enabled to work remotely.      In this sense the post-pandemic workplace is reflective of the success of working remotely during the pandemic itself.      It remains an interesting topic of those who share very different beliefs about whether or not the end users were more or less productive in working from home. The return to the workplace in the post- pandemic era highlights the differing of opinions and perspectives.      The challenge with perceptions and opinions is that they cannot be validated right or wrong. Therefore, it is qualitative. As business responded to the pandemic, we entered The Ready a reaction to the pandemic. In being so responsive there was little time to focus on governance, data analytics, and other metrics that could answer these types of questions in a more definitive manner.      What is now understood is that these perceptions are a part of the decision-making processes in the post-pandemic era and are critical for a wide range of business, personal, and IT reasons.

  A Lesson Learned During the Pandemic

       As the pandemic drove the work from home model to address what was previously face-to-face interaction, there developed a new reality. Many end users became very adept at collaborating remotely. While old habits and preferences are hard to change, end users embraced remote as a viable solution. It was not long before the end users in many cases preferred this model.      The customers and colleagues who were the teams being visited began to see the advantages as well of remote interaction. In fact, many of the teams being contacted actually preferred remote as less intrusive to their business day.      From 2019 to 2021, and into 2022 (and beyond), remote became a new norm. One of the key lessons is that the new approach had both its supporters and detractors. The supporters viewed the remote contact as a necessity but equally as productive and effective.      Others preferred the face-to-face once the risks were over. Many businesses saw a risk mitigation in remote versus on site in terms of exposure from the pandemic.      It is important to recognize that finance and accounting “loved” the strategy. After the one-time-only costs to establish the home offices and supporting infrastructure, the ongoing support was literally a “sunk” cost.      The variable costs of travel and entertainment budgets which were negligible during the pandemic, now had competition in the work from home alternative and remote support. These seeds for this potential was occurring in the pre-pandemic era.      Pre-pandemic call centers have had somewhat of a renaissance. Calls centers are not new at all. Traditionally, call centers were

focused on the customer ordering process and fulfillment. Prepandemic as the online retail expanded, call centers were more critical to the processes. During the pandemic, as many were quarantined or could not otherwise travel, call centers and online capabilities were critical.      Call centers became both internally and externally staffed as businesses discovered a new approach for scaling and scripting resources to focus on their customers.      In the post-pandemic era, the call centers may be a key resource for businesses in IT. The not so subtle differences between help desk, service desk, and call centers may become even more subtle as the resources prove that they are quite adaptable.      For IT, outsourcing or a hybrid help desk or service desk have become a well-accepted service delivery strategy. By adopting more of a call center model for services that are not covered such as acquisition of accessories, supplies, scheduling calls, and so on, the call center model is gaining new traction. These new service levels might assist IT in further reducing costs and increasing support.      Potentially leveraging the same partners or infrastructure teams as resources for its customers and internal end users could provide an economy of scale. Even if not fully embraced, identifying some services that could be provided may further accelerate this potential support model.      It remains interesting that there is controversy over whether or not productivity improved, was reduced, or remained the same while end users worked remotely. In the absence of data analytics

and key performance metrics, the perceptions are qualitative not quantitative.      Whatever your point of view, on the internet you will be able to locate and find a point of view from a reputable source that agrees with your perspective.


       When considering collaboration, it may be helpful to remember the historical context. Previously, collaboration referred to a meeting often in a conference room, often scheduled, with invited participants. This is a traditional approach and was leveraged as a venue. Businesses had a conference room strategy with scheduling tools.      Collaboration was basically a one-to-one, one-to-many event with the ability in many cases to “broadcast out” participation.      For multi-location and global businesses with a wide ranging geographic must be addressed, there was an initial generation of collaboration tools which provided the basics in terms of communications. Over the years, these collaboration tools matured and become a full suite of collaboration solutions complete with file and document sharing.      About a decade ago, mobility in the format of cellphones drove a generational change in defining collaboration. Text, instant messaging, social media communications became a vehicle for collaboration. Collaboration was no longer defined as a “group” session, but scoped from a one-to-one to a one-to- many type of conversation.

     The Millennials and GenZ have redefined collaboration. Collaboration is more of an instantaneous and potentially spontaneous occurrence, no schedule required.      It is interesting to note that in business in the pre-pandemic era, and through the post-pandemic era, there is an expectation that text and instant messaging is somewhat of a priority. Unlike emails that have an expectation of response time, the expectations for mobility messaging is once received, you respond.      The post-pandemic era may well see governance for text and instant messaging archival for businesses since the texts have now become mainstream for communications. For email, as a contrast, the retention and archiving is well known and well communicated. That is not the case with text and instant messaging. Given remote work, the governance will likely be created to address this operational aspect of IT.      An example of the importance for support could be if an end user in the home office is down with connectivity, the end user can certainly call the help desk on the cell phone. From this the question - can the help desk open a support ticket based upon a cell phone call, text message, or is there a different process?      We know the end user perspective would be - of course the help desk should be able to open a ticket - “why place more burden on me, the end user?”      Collaboration tools themselves have become mainstream. With the capability to handle small to large groups, interactive sessions, and deliver minimal latency and high definition, collaboration is one of the enablers of the hybrid model discussed earlier.      During the pandemic, it is hard to imagine what business, education, and social interaction would have been without

collaboration succeeding in connecting the communities together technically.      The pandemic normalized collaboration, and to a very high degree validated the IT investment, made well in advance of the pandemic.

  Modern Management

       Closed Loop Lifecycle has an operational definition for modern management. Modern management is a cloud first, highly automated approach to lifecycle management for both hardware and software which is built around the end user centric model.      Like many of the other trends discussed in this chapter, the cloud is not new. What is new is the increasing level of adoption. The pandemic with retail online leading the way, focused customers (now end users) to the marvel of online.      Given the quarantines, contagious concerns of the pandemic, and other considerations, online became not only mainstream but in many cases preferred. Once behavior is changed, it can be a “game changing” situation where future behavior is fundamentally altered.      Modern management represents the business implementations of what customers and buyers have bene experiencing for years. At last, the end users may be able to have a “retail-like” experience from their IT teammates.      The cloud brings an economy of scale which has been proven during the pandemic. As the endemic phase of the pandemic may

be occurring, viewing buying habits going forward may be an indicator for businesses to consider.      In the business today, there seems to be a “hesitation” of sorts surrounding modern management. Among the reason perhaps for the hesitation is the budgeting process and the prioritization of resources.      Modern management may be key in a business’s ability to attract, recruit, and retain top talent. If this is correct, then modern management is not a “nice to have” but a necessary strategy for the future.      Creating a definitive business case with a defined resource and funding plan may address some of the initial hesitation since many organizations plan to piecemeal over time various elements of modern management without fully establishing a baseline return on investment.      In the post-pandemic era we now find ourselves, modern management takes the decisions, experiences, and end user preferences created during the pandemic, and aligns these to new IT thinking about an end user centric model.

  User Segmentation/Personas

       Closed Loop Lifecycle defines user segmentation as - “the optimal alignment based upon the end users job requirements of device(s), cost, risk, service level, and applications”. User segmentation is the methodology, and personas represent the outcome of the methodology.

     For years, businesses have discussed, announced, and endorsed the end user experience. It was not until a period pre-pandemic that the end user experience became one of the key performance indicators (KPI) for IT and the business.      In other words, we talked a lot about the end user experience in an environment that was built around the IT services we were prepared to deliver, which for the most part was device centric.      Many businesses, when asked about user segmentation, respond that they built the IT infrastructure and architecture for everyone, not a particular set of end users. For those businesses who are on board with that thinking, perhaps another way of stating that is that IT determines what the end users are entitled to, not the end users themselves. Perception is reality.      The pandemic accelerated the conversations about personas, not only from an economic perspective to optimize the cost and entitlement areas, but from a practical assessment of where the end users will be working. The hybrid model, as an example, requires the business to better understand the end user requirements and preferences. The pandemic also categorized roles in the organizations as mission critical, essential, or staff (and all points in between).      It is a challenge to understand how this model can be effective without the methodology and details about alignment to the end user requirements.



     During the pre-pandemic era, many vertical industries adopted a portal strategy. That portal strategy is very much in place in certain industries, and a wider adoption rate is occurring. A portal is a pre-set set of data requests that will enable a customer, or end user, to schedule appointments, cancel appoints, provide anecdotal information, as well as the typical registration information.      Some portals can be more definitive in seeking information. Health care was one of the first industries to embrace the portals as a part of the EHR systems. There are several advantages of the portal including reducing the requirement for manual entry (or paper documentation or re-entry of data) and the queue time awaiting for the appointment (the waiting room experience).      The portal was initially imagined as a scheduling technique but has developed into more of the pre-planning tool for the teams. Internally, the portal can be used to schedule support time, access teammates calendars for collaboration, schedule conference rooms, and so on.      The portal has rapidly become a staple for the post-pandemic era and will most certainly expand to other data sets as appropriate.      The portal was initially designed to address a very specific problem - scheduling. From that humble beginning, portals have become a somewhat user friendly entry point for certain internal and external applications and operations.      Registering for your favorite online retailer is really no different today than completing much of the new hire electronic information. Because portals are integrated into other systems, the information flow is immediate reducing the time to solution.

     Portals are taken for granted. Many end users and customers might not recall how much paperwork was required for activation purposes.      A not too distant “cousin” of the portal is the “e-documents”. Just as portals, e-documents automate much of the manual, hard copy paperwork workflows. Renting an apartment, renting a car, buying a house, and other day-to-day significant events are now enabled by electronic signatures and data sets.      Telehealth is a perfect example of just how deep an initial innovation can be taken through a workflow process. At the end of the process, end users and customers may not even appreciate or reflect on how that work was accomplished before automation even though the time is not very distant.



Table Stakes

  T HE READY STATE © IDENTIFIED CERTAIN disciplines that have become table stakes. The operational definition of table stakes according to Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning © is - “the foundational building blocks that are a core of the end user experience and a source of required IT expertise.”      Many of these table stakes are not new per se but during the pandemic, the core matured and became invaluable as a management solution for the end users. End users now consider table stakes an entitlement and expect best-in-class solutions to be delivered by IT.      One of the key points to be made about table stakes is that only a few short years ago, these table stakes were considered new and innovative, and not quite mainstream. The value of these solutions enabled almost an immediate scaling of the solutions to the point where businesses quickly recognized the value of embracing.      These table stakes are fundamental to the deliverable of the end user experience. For years, IT has been challenged to automate and create metrics that were not subjective.      When these expectations are not met, the end user satisfaction will be impacted, but more importantly, what the end users perceive to be a critical function of IT is not delivered. Both IT and the end users need to be wholly aligned on the table stakes and agree on its priority, importance, and attention.      For the post-pandemic era, the following are table stakes to be considered:

  - Data analytics

- User Segmentation and personal - Collaboration - Tech Debt - End Point Devices - Consumerization - Facilities

  Data Analytics

       One of the learnings from the pandemic when quarantine and working from home was required in many instances, was the issue that once an end user was enabled, meaning provided the devices, tools, and support to engage, the experience and actual usage was a “black hole” for IT.      The term “black hole” is actually on point in terms of observation. Many businesses did not have the insight to understand how the end users were working and how the entitlements that have been provided were being used.      From a hardware, network, security, software and overall experience, only data analytics can provide this level of end user intimacy for IT. The post-pandemic era will be driven by data. At the concept level, this is not new, but the business case was not as mature as it presently has become.      The hybrid work model has driven a definitive requirement for data analytics. Security is a key area of interest. Bad actors have specifically targeted the home office end users to the point where

analytics are required to assure that the security counter measures are in place.      Data analytics provides for IT what CRM provides for a business customer base - relevant details. Without data analytics much of what IT receives for input and insight is largely anecdotal, including customer satisfaction surveys. Customer satisfaction surveys require the end user to provide opinion based upon a good or bad experience or relationship with IT (as an example).      Facts do not need interpretation before they are presented, they require an analysis. Data analytics provides a more current, true perspective of the end user experience with technologies.      Care needs to be taken in the context of data analytics from IT. A “big brother is watching” approach will not be well received. End users will want to understand what is being collected and how the information is being used.      In the work from home model there is undoubtedly a comingling of persona and business personas. As a part of the governance model, many businesses provide that an end user has “reasonable use” for the company owned device. The question is who gets to determine what is reasonable use? That answer actually is quite simple - the business.      This is where the tension might occur with internal data analytics and why end users would perhaps want to know what is being collected and assessed. If there is personally identifiable information (PII) on the business owned device, the expectation is that the information should be out of scope or expressly addressed in a different manner.

     This may not be as straightforward as it might appear, and as the hybrid model continues in the workplace, and even just leveraging the business owned device, these are concerns of the end users. The business may, or may not, have a different perspective.      In this book we will spend time discussing employee stewardship as an IT counter measure. Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded that the business should not rely on employee stewardship as a counter measure for compliance or security. That does not mean to imply that the business does not implement and train, it is a matter of reliance and accountability.

  User Segmentation and Personas


     As early as 2010 (actually earlier), Closed Loop Lifecycle was writing white papers and including in published books regarding the concept of user segmentation which is an IT strategy built upon the requirements of the end users.      As time passed, the adoption of user segmentation become more accepted. Then pre-pandemic, the next “buzzword” personas was created which is the outcome of the user segmentation methodology.      Now, user segmentation and personas are table stakes meaning that in order to support the end users effectively, understanding their needs and expectations are critical. By implementing and aligning user segments, a business can now implement tiers of services most appropriate for the end users.      In a user segment model everything is a service. By creating and establishing new service levels based upon the end user

requirements, businesses now have new levers to exercise for optimizing costs as well as the end user experience.      The data analytics discussed above, provides the empirical data to build upon for user segmentation definition. You cannot optimize the end user experience unless the business knows with a degree of specificity who the end users are and what they need to perform their assigned work.      Table stakes including user segmentation validates that the discipline is not only mainstream, but required to deliver the end user centric model. It is a challenge to envision an end user centric model, without the basic knowledge about the end users themselves.



     Back in the day (old school) collaboration meant meetings. To collaborate with a person, or persons, there was a physical meeting usually with slides. Collaboration was much more formal with scheduled times and locations, as well as identified speakers, and roles of persons attending. Most meetings in previous eras, were opportunities to present, and receive feedback. These meetings often had detailed agendas designed to facilitate and lead the conversations. Often, only certain persons could convene a meeting.      From that beginning, meetings began to become more informal and included the sharing and development of ideas. Brainstorming was the concept to drive conversations that were less structured. Meetings were the forum to express new ideas and innovations. The phrase often heard was - “there are no bad ideas, share

everything, we will not be judgmental in brainstorming, we want all ideas.”      Still, the location for these meetings was often in a conference room in a facility where the room(s) were configured to accommodate groups and capture ideas.      A funny thing happened in the early 2000’s, mobility began to take over the markets. Cell phones, smart phones, tablet computing, PDA’s, and the new form factors were irresistible to consumers. As a convenience, this new form factor (which has been around for quite a number of years before) was now mainstream.      Instant messaging, text messaging, social media and online forums now became a standard way of communications. Businesses adopted the approach and the scaling was on.      End users no longer required a “meeting” to communicate with teammates, customers and other resources. Collaboration was born.      The generations in the workforce began to use this new communication media as a tool not as a personal use only; businesses could see the intrinsic value. Plus, end users had already “voted” they were going to use their devices, whether or not the business embraced them anyway.      Collaboration occurred when the meeting topics, scope, and content were freeform. No need for specific agendas, we simply needed to talk, to plan, to strategize. Collaboration was used to create consensus and communication with groups of all sizes no matter where they were, or what time zone they happened to be in.

     Technology suppliers recognized the need for internet based technologies, universally available and competitively packaged to become the most viable vehicle for scaling making the ability to collaborate with all forms of input /output devices regardless of form factors. The early 2000’s was the growth period for these sets of collaboration software suites. Voice over IP become mainstream.      Forward to the pre-pandemic era, employers could see the trend. There needed to be a corporate set of platform or platforms for collaboration. Platforms were required since there were both personal and business devices used for support by the growing end user communities. These same devices are used for online access by the end users as well for non-business content, so now there was a security play as well.      By the era of pre-pandemic, businesses had already made significant investments in the emerging collaboration tools and suites, and many were quite mature at some level of usage and adoption.      When the pandemic occurred, the investments made by businesses in collaboration tools, processes, and adoption cannot be overlooked. Neither can be the foresight of software providers defining absolutely brilliant solutions to create and define a new collaboration business model.      It is impossible to even imagine what the pandemic would have been like if collaboration was not implemented in businesses before the pandemic occurred. Working remotely simply would not have been effective, or affordable with previous generations of technologies.

     Fast forward to the post-pandemic era. Collaboration was the great enabler of remote work. Without the investment already made by businesses in collaboration tools, much of the benefits of remote work would be lost. Recognizing this, end users are now fully dependent on collaboration as a part of their entitlements and desire to even further expand the relationships.      In the post-pandemic era, it is impossible to conduct business without collaboration.

  Tech Debt


     Tech Debt is the cost buildup of older applications which cannot remain productive and secure as time has moved forward. As defined elsewhere in this book, Tech Debt resolution is table stakes. There is a phrase used by Closed Loop Lifecycle called “hitting the wall”.      During the post-pandemic era, the phrase “melt down” is used much in the same context of “hitting the wall”.      “Hitting the wall” represents the event that hardware, software, or other applications simply no longer work. It is about performance, but also about security. For years, and perhaps decades, certain applications were patched, updated, worked and reworked, often without adequate documentation.      Businesses focused not on the ultimate replacement of the applications, but the current cost to update the application. The focus was on the current cost, resources, and effort required.      It should be noted that in many of the industries, the legacy applications that will “hit the wall” are mission critical applications. Each vertical industry will have its own set of

mission critical applications that may or will be required to be replaced.      In some cases, customer or home grown applications could be replaced by more off the shelf types of applications. Most would require some level of perhaps customization. However, the trend in the industry in general is fewer custom applications for portability and ease of use for the end users.      Now with new security vectors, the bad actors exploit older software much in the same way they exploit older PC’s. Businesses know and understand that replacing older solutions can be and often are quite expensive to address. Resolving the Tech Debt as a table stakes implies that there is a point of no return to continue with an application or technology that will create not only an economic issue but foster a potential breach.      The end user experience on older applications is not the same as more current, consumer-like applications (another table stake that we will review in a moment).      There is always change going to occur, and legacy is always difficult to turn away from. However, Tech Debt is inevitable and businesses must in the post-pandemic era, identify where the Tech Debt is in their organization. Once identified, Tech Debt must have a plan developed to mitigate, resolve, and retire the debt. Without that element, there is a very large potential liability hanging over the IT organization and hence the business.      Current regulations and governance does not require businesses to identify Tech Debt. Closed Loop Lifecycle suggests a consideration by IT and the business to identify Tech Debt and the contingent liability it represents in the 5-year IT plan or earlier.

     Most businesses know where the Tech Debt is, but might only have a general perception of the exposure. Tech Debt could be a “Budget Buster” and impact overall expenses and clearly the business.      Tech Debt is very much like governance - no one wants to engage and would very much like to continue to defer. There is an adage in business which is perfect summary for Tech Debt (and governance) - “if it is not broken….”      Anticipating the time when the applications simply fail to deliver the value whether it is system performance, product features, increased risk, or any other reason, the timeframe when this action needs to occur is long before IT and the business is forced to address the issue.      It is important to note that many businesses still do not have a figure to associate with Tech Debt. Other than acknowledging the existence, developing a dollar figure to discuss the topic is all but invisible in many organizations. There is likely a few reasons for this including:

  - Cost to Replace - Uniqueness of the Applications - Politics and Culture - Disruption

  Tech Debt - Second Guessing


     Tech Debt will always be a topic and situation that will be second guessed. That is a good thing. Early warnings about when an application or process will potentially fail to work should not

be a “secret” nor should end users, IT, or other communities feel as though they are “whistle blowers” regarding this particular issue. Unfortunately, there is a lot of emotions surrounding Tech Debt that makes the attention quite political at times.      Tech Debt does not suggest that someone, or some organization, has done something wrong. At the time decisions are made about applications, it is usually a snapshot in time. IT trends moves so quickly it is not surprising that technology can become obsolete in a very tight window.      The real issue is in regard to the significance both operationally, including disruption, and the funding. Requesting incremental funding is never an easy thing to do, particularly when the scope may be significant. As this book has stated before, no one likes surprises, so the incremental budget should not be a surprise, however, in most cases regarding Tech Debt, it is.      The reason that employees typically do not speak up is in deference to the process (“hey, it is not my job to tell that the system is broken, they should know…”).      It is easy to spin the past, but there is a new reality - in this modern era and in the post-pandemic era with cloud first, legacy needs to be addressed.      Not all legacy will need the same investment levels to address the issues of the day. Security and manageability alone though would create impetus for updating applications particularly those that are mission critical to the enterprise.      Tech Debt cannot be ignored, deferred, or minimized given the potential risks associated with the applications. The planning processes for leadership need to include this topic on an ongoing

basis. The issues will not go away and the implications will become more serious sand costly as time moves ahead.      From a security perspective, Tech Debt is an obvious targeted areas of interest by the bad actors who make it their interest to understand which industries (and therefore businesses) remain on legacy applications. The risk associated with Tech Debt and legacy represents a new vector for the IT team to assess.

  Cost to Replace


     In many (most) cases the cost to replace mission critical legacy applications are considerable. Not only does the application need to be addressed but all of the surrounding policy, process, procedures, and workflows.      As a line item on the IT budget, often the legacy applications are “Budget Busters” in terms of how these applications are referred. Instead, legacy has remained although cleverly quarantined from the rest of the business and the network.      As commented in this book, the baseline to support fully the legacy applications needs to be developed and compared to the cost to replace and modernize. The fully loaded cost is the appropriate baseline and should include the cost to continue over time leveraging legacy driven technology.      For many organizations, it is the cost to replace which is an inhibitor. The business may “spin” and package other considerations which are very much a part of the conversation, but at the end of the day, it is about the cost.      Closed Loop Lifecycle in the research called The Risk there were two premises that would seem to resonate in this area. The

first conclusion is - “risk is not real, until it happens.”      This suggests that until something negative occurs, such as a breach or the application simply no longer performs effectively, the scenario is theoretical. Businesses may not have the funding for an “anticipated theory” or future occurrence.      That is where the second conclusion comes into play - “risk is not real, until it happens to you.” Once risk becomes personal it has our attention. As a business, there will be questions why the risk was ignored.      In pre-pandemic times there was a premise espoused by many often referred to as “reasonable risk.” The premise of reasonable risk is that businesses could determine based upon some criteria (usually loosely defined), that the risk (whatever it happens to be) is reasonable. Usually there is no detailed documentation or record of that decision making just to be clear, nor is there a business owner.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has a differing perspective on this specific topic. Risk is binary; something is either a risk or not a risk. Reasonable risk does not exist, it is a risk waiting for a stimulus to occur to make it a reality.      The reason this is important is the relationship between security and Tech Debt both of which are covered in this book. It is clear in the post-pandemic era that the bad actors are to some degree counting on certain business behaviors and investments.

  Uniqueness of the Applications


     Every business has unique applications. If the legacy applications are specific to the business or a particular line of

business where there are few(er) commercially available applications, the problems can be exacerbated.      When discussing legacy applications the first argument is that the application and the requirements are so unique that custom applications were required, and potentially continue to be required. Further arguments include the modifying, updating, and adding to the legacy applications making it even a greater challenge to replace.      Candidly, all of these arguments are quite valid. At the time, decisions needed to be made in many instances, legacy or custom might have been the sole approach to address very specific problems. Businesses and third parties need to be very aware about the circumstances and root causes.

  Politics and Culture


     Closed Loop Lifecycle has long concluded that - “politics and culture often trumps a business case.” A similar conclusion is -“one cannot address an emotional issue with business logic.”      There is frequently a pride of ownership associated with custom and legacy. Change does not often come easily to many.      Culture is important to a business. Culture established core values and a belief system. Culture makes the business larger as an entity representing something more than just a company. A business is comprised of end users and employees (I know, talk about the obvious), but it is important that the employees understand and respect the culture.      For companies that have mergers and acquisitions as they develop their culture, it is important to remember that there are

two competing cultures in place at one time, and both need to be respected. Cultures represent core values, a theme that Millennials and GenZ state that plays a role in their selection of employers.      Since the politics and culture often play a significant role in the legacy, engaging the appropriate stakeholders in the conversations early and often represents a key success factor. Further, unless there is an active executive sponsor, the legacy may not be going anyway soon. There is a pride of ownership that is real.      The financial business case and its importance to the business must be developed and documented. Leadership and sponsorship will require that level of detail. The funding investment is likely significantly large enough to justify the time to create the financial business case.      Generalities will potentially be taken “personally” which should be avoided at all costs. There is a reason it is called legacy.



     Regardless of the business justification being compelling, and the support on-board with modernization (in whatever form that is determined by the business) replacing legacy will be disruptive. In many cases, the disruption could be significant.      It is important to remember that at some point both the legacy and the replacing solution will be running in parallel, costs and resources need to be well planned for this occurrence. Success criteria needs to be mutually agreed upon well in advance.

     Another factor that the supporters of legacy will appropriately point out is that discussion comes with a cost as well. Quantification of the investment is also a critical element to address and not ignore as a “cost of doing business”, disruption should carry weight as a measurable cost element in the business case.      Disruption can be mitigated if the plan and design is well thought out and crafted. The importance of the plan is one of the reasons that top talent for systems analysis and project managers are so critical to the overall process.



     How business report and manage Tech Debt needs to be changed and addressed during the Post-pandemic era. Tech Debt should be part of the positioning of IT best practice levels. Today, it is not.

  End Point Devices

       One of the questions always asked in discussing IT and lifecycle management is - “how long is the useful life of a desktop, laptop, tablet, or other access device?”      This section will not focus on the answer but will focus on what the answer is not. We know that devices can remain in an installed base for a lengthy period of time. Everyone knows (or suspects) what the optimal useful life of the devices are, however,

the extension of the useful life previously was considered a “badge of honor” to extend the useful life well beyond expectations.      The issue is not can they work, the question is how effective can they be. Older devices result in a lesser end user experience, no one really covets an out of date laptop, as an example. With the changing demographics and related trends there are now table stakes to be considered.      There is only so much disk and memory a business can continue to add to a configuration. Older devices are less responsive and often perform with lag time. If the refresh cycle feels like “ride it ’til it dies”, then there should be an acknowledgement that the end user experience does not matter.      Older equipment is not as secure as the newer counterparts, and the bad actors should thank the business for non-replacement strategies. Some might argue that there is software that can be added to further protect those devices, but that misses the point it recognizes that there is exposure and adding more cost to a diminishing asset is quite illogical from a lifecycle perspective.      The premise to consider for end point devices is simply stated - older devices are not as secure as its modern counterparts. If a business is serious about security, the end point devices and the useful life of all of the devices that are active should be addressed with a definitive lifecycle to protect for security.      Performance analytics should play a key role in determining what the optimal useful life of end points could be. Taking out of the equation the emotional and cultural perception that extending the useful life is optimal, and providing detailed analysis to perform a true cost comparison, might lead to different conclusions.

     The ability to identify and quantify the end user experience based upon real data would aid in developing the detailed business case for the organization.      A meaningful technology refresh strategy is critical for all the rationale stated in this section and for that reason end point devices are recognized as table stakes for the post-pandemic era.


       We have mentioned in this book the importance of consumerization to IT. Consumerization is table stakes, End users expect, want, and in the post-pandemic era will likely demand the consumer-like experience. If the end users do not receive this, it will have implications.      Consumerization represents table stakes for IT and represents a more modern view of the business. We no longer look at the IT infrastructure with pride suggesting that a non-integrated, aged, infrastructure predicated upon previous generations of interfaces (including the look and feel), protects investments.      Closed Loop Lifecycle concludes that - “investment equals commitment”. Extending older infrasturure and deferring consumerization is internalized by end users as a lack of commitment to the end users themselves. Perhaps it is an unintended consequence, but it is a consequence.      As a new hires in a company, imagine the lack of excitement the new hire will have if a 2-year old laptop is offered as the company owned device. Many businesses do cascade (re-deploy) used equipment in the IT infrastructure. Many businesses reuse

and repurpose devices as a normal course of business. Ultimately, the device itself becomes an issue with the end user community.      As a business, we do not want IT to be perceived as the decision-maker on cascaded devices. That decision is made outside of IT by other business leaders. IT is merely executing the approved strategy. This is an example of a business issue “masquerading” as an IT issue. In the past, IT has been too quick to align to take ownership of business decisions that are really not IT decisions at all.      As a table stake, consumerization must be an ongoing project to maintain currency to the emerging trends. In the post-pandemic era, the online, social media, collaboration, application and all of the implications represent the next generation of consumerization in the cloud. Ubiquitous access, any time anywhere, in a best in class manner on any device, is the expectation.      Online retailers have figured this out particularly in the prepandemic era which supported the end users during the pandemic. If not driven relentlessly by IT, the business units will drive the initiative much the same way the lines of business drove the tablet adoption early in the cycles.


       The facilities strategy for IT has fundamentally changed and likely forever altered. This is a bold statement, but represents why facilities is a table stakes element. The footprint required has changed. With hybrid work, the number of end users at the corporate facilities at any point in time will be variable.

     Planning for facilities and the real estate footprint required will be a table state. How much square footage is required, and how will that footprint be managed.      Long term leases may drive certain behaviors for some time, but with the potential for sub-leasing and other negotiations it is clear that the rules are changing. If the facilities are owned, there is a different dynamic, however, the implications are the same.      If end users return to the workplace, whether full time or part time, and the workplace footprint is largely the same, the implications for table stakes are missed completely. Part of the end user experience is now what was the “office of the future” pre-pandemic to the modern post-pandemic office required for today’s workplace.      The physical office must be different than the previous or existing office plan pre-pandemic. If the end users return and the facility is fundamentally the same, the implications of table stakes are significant.      For real estate and facilities experts this is going to be a challenging time in the post-pandemic era. From the next generation of conference rooms, to the hoteling for part time office working, to the full time end users there are expectations that did not exist before the pandemic.      Table stakes suggest that the overall plan be revisited to assure that the post-pandemic office is secure, safe, and efficient.      In the new office structure, many businesses, for example, may not have dedicated employee locations or desks, there is a common sharing. This approach is required since it is not clear how often an employee might actually be in the corporate facility.

Assigning specific workspace might result in not optimizing the existing and available capacity of the workplace.



“The Headwinds”

  M ANY BUSINESSES USE THE TERM “headwinds”. The term is often used to describe a situation, event, or other circumstance that the business is confronted with and needs to be addressed.      The author uses the term “headwinds” in quotes because the definition and usage of the term “headwinds” has a number of assumptions and positioning included in the leveraging.      To some degree, “headwinds” implies that the business has little, if any control, over the “headwinds”. Further, to many businesses the comment is that they were “surprised” by the “headwind” and its impact.      Lastly, there is a point of view that as a business, there is very little that can be done to address the “headwinds” since there is a clear dependency on others to address the elements.      While there is certainly truth in the packaging, it is important in assessing readiness, and separate the “spin” from the reality.      In a sense, “headwinds” would seem to be an unplanned activity or event. However, part of the leadership responsibility is the future planning and thinking.      Back in The Great Recession of 2008-2009 many businesses struggled to continue as a going concern due in some part to the economy of course, but also not adopting an online internet presence. Retail history is replete with retailers who, for a wide variety of reasons, missed the online development.      Many of those businesses that failed during this period of time cited the “headwind” of the internet and not anticipating the

impact. The number of well-known businesses that are still trying to catch up in developing their online brand attests to the issue.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded that - “there are no right or wrong answers, only conscious and unconscious decisions.” Decision to defer investment for an online presence would seem to be a conscious decision. Blaming the “headwind” (the internet) for such a failure to adopt would seem to be relinquishing the control of the issue.      The economy is always cyclical. There will be times of positive economic news, job growth and expansion countered by periods of inflation, job constraints, and even recessions. Part of the responsibility of business leadership is to understand macro and micro economics and plan for the occurrences.      To be clear, there are always many opinions and perspectives about the economy and many counter measures to be considered. However, being surprised, not anticipating issues, or otherwise miscalculating the impact is not a “headwind” - it is the exercise of business judgment which we rely on our business leaders to be accountable.      While the economy is not always predictable and performed in a desired manner, businesses need to anticipate, not blame, a “headwind” which could be planned. Even if the result is not fully anticipated, the plan should be in place to mitigate potential impacts. That is the very definition of business agility.      While the size and scope of the pandemic was historical, businesses have been anticipating health care driven pandemics and impact for years. Bird-Flu was one of the initial concerns regarding pandemics, but Ebola and other health care issues were top of mind, and figured into the disaster planning.

     To be clear on the pandemic as a “headwind” - that is a very appropriate categorization. Businesses and governmental agencies (state, local, county, federal) provided guidance based upon the planning and anticipation. Businesses responded and implemented counter measures that included work from home, learn from home, and protecting essential workers. The point is that if the “headwind” was not anticipated and planned, the outcome could have been even more devastating.      There are other scenarios addressed in this book, that many may consider “headwinds” but they are likely not “headwinds”.      When a change can be anticipated and planned, referring to the circumstance as a “headwind” may be a bit disingenuous since the positioning may have more to do with the business lack of a plan versus actually not recognizing the existence of an event that impacts the business.      There are examples of what could fall into this category such as the changing demographics, the increase in modern management, and even the implications from supply chain issues.      While these issues are real, they could be planned and addressed, with alternatives to be considered. If one assumes that the three elements identified in the preceding paragraph are “headwinds” at what point does the “headwind” simply become an issue to be addressed?      If a business problem persists for years (as an example) is it appropriate to continue to define it as an occurrence that cannot be addressed with proper planning, or at least mitigated.      Organizationally, this is an operational challenge. It is impossible to plan for everything. Cycles occur and history

suggests that disaster planning should anticipate potential “headwinds” in the future.      To be discussed in an upcoming chapter are the man-made “headwinds” such as ransomware, security, and worker shortages. The man-made “headwinds” are a different category since the business responses and anticipation are known at some level.      The tone is not intended to be negative or cynical, but to recognize the reality of the post-pandemic era.      There is an interesting parallel to “headwinds” believe it or not to accounting.      If there is an identified cost counter measure say in year 1, the impact on the financial statement is captured as a cost reduction in the first year. This assumes it is not a one-time-only occurrence. The information on the cost counter measure is documented and reported if it is significant.      Year 2, year 3 and beyond, simply provides a continuation of the impact as a continuing process, not as a one-time-reduction since that baseline was covered in year 1, but rather cost avoidance in the out years.      Whether or not this type of analogy works, the point is that the “headwinds” even though they may be ongoing, require a plan for year 1. It is assumed that once the “headwinds” are addressed, there will be a continuous process improvement to further mitigate the issues created by the “headwind”.      To position the “headwinds” in the out years, may suggest the plan to address the problems have not worked effectively or perhaps the definition of the problem to be solved had changed.



“We have a management problem.”

  C LOSED LOOP LIFECYCLE PLANNING © HAD identified some years ago that there was a growing management problem that was becoming very apparent. Traditionally, front line managers were trained to manage people. As a matter of fact, many businesses refer to managers often as “people managers”.      The focus of human resources in the past was to ensure that personnel policies, process, and procedures were adhered to and followed. The nurturing of talent and growth was often found in other organizations such as “development”.      The development organizations in many businesses are the teams that focus on talent skills and continuous process improvements.      Fast forwarding to more recent times, human resources is taking on more and more of the change agent role in the organization. Recognizing the importance of acquiring new skills to attract, retain, and recruit new and top talent, businesses are recognizing that the re-skilling of its manager talent pool needs to be addressed.      Managers, for the most part, are “line of site managers”.      “I know my staff is working because I can see them working at their desk or workspace.” While that is a traditional view of the workplace, it recognizes the reality of what the managers have been trained to consider.

     When remote work began to take form in earnest, it was well before the pandemic. There were always certain roles and user segments that were working remotely. Example would include sales, consultants, support, and other roles that require out of the office travel or travel between facilities within a campus, or campuses.      From a workforce population the pre-pandemic levels approached anywhere from 20% to 30% of the overall workforce, depending upon the vertical industry (Note: your mileage may vary).      At the time, many of the managers supporting these remote workers (often referred to back in the day as “road warriors”) were challenged, and measured performance quite often by activity, not outcomes. If you were a sales professional, performance against the assigned budget was the sole quantified metric. All else was somewhat subjective and activity based.      Line of site managers were uncomfortable with remote work because there was a lack of experience, training, and guidance on how to approach the remote workforce. It is hard to manage people if they are not working in front of you delivering the desired results.      Thus began the level of discomfort with both employees and managers. Employees felt distant from management, believing that they simply did not and do not understand the challenges of being remote.      Managers, on the other hand, often had core beliefs about the work ethics and time spent actually working versus time on nonbusiness activities.

     For both the employees and the managers, the stress levels created by this tension is not insignificant. For employees the idea of trust comes into play thinking that management does not trust or believe that the employee is working as hard as they should be working. There is a belief that the micro-management of the employee is outweighing the work product or output.      Managers do recognize this, but in many cases, it is their manager above driving the agenda as well. Weekly meetings to review output, or even more frequent check-ins for many businesses have become the norm.      The common denominator is the work product or outcome set of expectations. In many businesses it is not clear if there is such an alignment. The relationship between employee and management during the pandemic, while remaining empathetic to the pandemic itself, became quite transactional.      It is important to remember that work from home is not new, and that many of the end users now working remotely have been doing so for quite some time. This segment of end users should be at the high competency mode in working from home and likely should not be a part of the manager’s concern about output.      In many businesses, however, that is not the case. Working from home and the concerns surrounding that venue appears to revolve around all of the end users in that mode of workplace.      In the post-pandemic era, this problem may abate as everyone gains more maturity in the model, but it is a slow process. The business results and outcomes which are driven by several, nonrelated, factors will drive how much scrutiny the work from home model will receive.      Regardless, of the perception, it is the opinion of Closed Loop Lifecycle that work from home and remote work is here to stay as

a part of the IT framework.

  So, what does this management problem have to do with IT?        For IT there is an inflection point. For the line manager responsible for the employee, that relationship often determines the level of satisfaction of the relationship. For IT, the inflection point is that employees are now to IT - end users or customers. There is a difference.      The IT relationship is based upon a service level relationship. The line management is a reporting and performance relationship. The two agendas are not co-mingled.      If there is a disconnect between the end user, IT, and the front line manager, the level of frustration will logically increase. Emotions tend to run high when expectations are net met or exceeded. IT tends to be in the middle of such controversies, and often front line management defers to IT, or suggests that “all is well.”      Denying that an issue exists, or deferring addressing an issue ascribing responsibility to another cross functional organization, might have been considered in the past. However, in today’s Ready the Millennials and GenZ, as well as others in the workforce, will typically not be so dismissive.      The next generation’s entering the workforce have a specific expectation of what to demand from their managers, and from the IT team that supports them. It goes to reason, that if there is an issue with the front line manager, there is a corresponding issue with IT.

     Remote work whether on the “road” itself or working at home, requires an IT portfolio that meets and exceeds the requirements of the end users. When the requirements are met, then the end users become more productive and satisfied with IT, and therefore the business they work for.      When the expectations of the workforce are not met, then the seeds of mistrust increases, and may even become contentious. When this occurs, the front line manager becomes the key focal point since they do represent their employees.      In many cases, the front line manager lacks empathy. In other words, the manager does not view any of the remote IT issues from the end users perspective, but rather through the manager’s or business lens.      If the end user believes that the tools are not adequate, and the manager does not share that point of view, the trust issue is magnified, often to the point of no return.      If a manager believes that there is a work/performance issue, then the tool or lack therefore, is simply an excuse to be less effective, and in some cases not to deliver results.      In a previous chapter we discussed the changing demographics in the workforce. New generations in the workforce are driving change to the service delivery portfolio of IT. The changes include remote work and managing outcomes.      Interestingly, this also relates to the changing demographics with many of the current front line managers being Generation X, Baby Boomers, or Traditionalists. This set of managers have deep experience in past business practices and may not be as sensitive, aware, or receptive to change as their current contemporaries.


Is there a solution for the management challenges?

       Of course there are solutions for addressing the management challenges associated with the next generation of end users and the workplace. However, as concluded by Closed Loop Lifecycle      “Change by its very nature is      In order to change, the environment and leadership need to be receptive to changing. In other words, acknowledge a problem, if there is one to be addressed.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has further concluded that:      “Nothing is worse, than being a change agent, in a business that is resistant to      It is quite often that those managers and leaders who state that there are receptive to change are the very ones who resist it. There is a comfort level associated with the past. Quite often, words do not match the actions.      As an example, think about all of the past years, and even decades, where messaging focused around the end user. It was not until the pandemic drove an acceleration that the end user experience became the most important key performance indicator. Symptoms such as The Great Resignation, worker shortages, retirements, and disengagement from the workforce have a correlation to the management issues that exist.      Denial that there is a management credibility, trust, and yes, even skill gaps, simply feeds the narrative. The next generations in the workforce will drive change. The amount of annual churn, turnover, and job changes reflect a level of dissatisfaction that exists.

     If one has ever worked for a business or management where the gap exists (and at some point in our careers we all have) the level of frustration is not insignificant.      In addressing and hopefully solving the management issue there are a number of considerations to be proposed. To be sure, there are more options and combinations available, but this book will simply provide the potential framework.      The solutions can be provided into several steps to be considered:

  - Acknowledge the problem - End user experience - actually measure it - Leverage third parties - Leverage technology

       One of the questions that has been asked by employees who work from home, is whether managers also work from home. This is an interesting question.      Perhaps if a manager or managers did work from home, there would be more of an understanding and empathy of the state of work. Actually, in many businesses managers do work from home, and in that case, the trust factor one would think would be less of an issue.      If managers are based in the corporate facility and not working remotely, perhaps as a part of their development, there should be a period of time where that could occur.      Fundamentally, it really does come down to trust. Trust includes having metrics that are measurable to assure that the quality

remains top of mind. This is where IT should play a role.      Whether it is reporting out, data analytics, contacts, or whatever the key performance indicators are, for home based work there should be a definitive set of KPI’s in place. If there is none in place, then it is likely that the metrics are quite informal.      In the case of informal metrics, not KPI driven behavior, then it is easy to see where the trust factor comes into play - it is quite subjective.      The call center model has this approach figured out in terms of KPI’s and standards that are monitored and managed. Not all roles in an organization will lend itself to such metrics, but there are KPI’s that could be developed that are quite definitive driven by data that could address creating the comfort level and outcome based reporting.

  Acknowledge the problem

       The first step in addressing any problem is to acknowledge that there is an issue in the first place. While this might seem pretty basic, it is not. Denying the existence of an issue to many organizations (as well as some managers and leaders) is often seen as an admission that “perfection” is not achieved.      It is not unusual that blame is ascribed to the end users, not the organizations providing the support. Denying is a part of human nature, but in a business, it is significantly inhibiting and often halts continuous process improvement.      Businesses often over estimate their ability to deliver services and support, and have challenges internalizing any feedback.

     The acknowledgement is actually a part of the business and IT practice maturity. The less maturity, the more denial and emotional responses go into the mix. If you are an end user caught up in this, it is also not unusual for escalation to occur.      If a manager is less supportive of an overall strategy such as remote work or hybrid work to begin with, then observing a gap in skill might be a root cause.

  End user experience - actually measure it

       For years (literally) businesses have always said “we are focused on our end users” or other comments such as “our most valuable assets are our employees”. Actions speak louder than words as the old adage states, and this is true with the Essential IT strategy.      The Great Resignation, the worker shortages, and the next generations movement from job to job (also company to company) would suggest that there is an underlying issue to be addressed.      Measuring the end user experience and reporting on it has long been a challenge. The “bad news” is that as businesses, we have learned to manage the messaging and “spin” the results.      First, the employee survey. Surveys measure a response to a set of questions over time, usually an annual sampling. The challenge is, how does the business solve an issue over a year old? Okay, understanding the importance of trends is critical, but the annual survey should not tell management anything that they already did not know, it should merely validate.

     Second, survey results from the service desk (formerly known as the help desk) are frequently used in support of a positive end user experience. However, this is transactional, not strategic.      The actual use is operational, about a service desk transaction between an agent and an end user on a specific issue. This is not an assessment of the overall end user experience. It has been and continues to be a bit of a “stretch” but many businesses use this context in a manner which is not intended.      Employees work best when the expectations are very clear. In the post-pandemic era, particularly when working from home, or remote for a number of days, KPI’s developed for the roles are critical. With KPI’s there is an objective, rational set of metrics that everyone can acknowledge.

  Leverage Third Parties

       It is often a challenge to ask teammates and colleagues who are part of the so called “problem” to participate and drive the solution. We are often too close to the problem to really be objective. This is not a one for one experience, it can be at the departmental, division, or business unit level issue that needs to be considered.      Asking members of the team who represent a constituency that might be a part of the problem, to fix it, might result in words, words, and more words (not actual action). As stated earlier, denial and defensiveness go hand in hand.      This is not to suggest that people cannot be objective, however, it is to state that everyone has an opinion and

perspective. If those opinions mask the issues to be addressed, the time to solution is impacted, and the end users suffer the implications.      Third party consultants and subject matter experts have a place in this scenario where they can represent independent arbiters to arrive at a solid end user experience plan. This approach does not exclude leveraging internal business resources, but it does suggest that leveraging the experience of a subject matter expert can avoid any learning curve associated with addressing managerial skillsets and the end user experience.

  Leverage Technology

       If a business is serious about the end user experience in this era of change, then the business needs to invest in the end user experience, not only talk about it. One of the investments is to leverage end user analytics.      As we all know from our personal retail and online experiences, data analytics are very mature and provide insights that might otherwise be overlooked. From a practical perspective, one of the challenges in a business considering data analytics for the end user experience is actually - the sales process.      Organizations that sell the solutions are often focused on their product set and not the outcomes. It is the outcome, which is important, the data analytics is only the path to get the business there. There are scores and scores of data elements that can be captured, the business needs to identify those that are relevant to their organization and detail how best to capture, report, and act.

     Understanding proactive actions that avoid end user disruption is a key factor in the end user experience, and unless documented (and in some cases communicated to the end users or their department) there would be no knowledge of the incident.      Further, the insight gained from the data would enable IT and the business to create a planning model to create a continuous process improvement plan for the end user community. Without such a tool, the relationship becomes anecdotal and based on a one-off situation.      The set of KPI’s discussed in this chapter would be an ideal IT driven, data analytic type of project that would take some level of the emotional stress out of the process.




  C LOSED LOOP LIFECYCLE PLANNING © HAS concluded - “that change by its very nature is unsettling.” If the pandemic taught us anything from an IT perspective it is to anticipate change, and embrace it.      To place the pandemic era in context, five generations of end users transitioned from an office based work place model, with some level of users with remote support, to a multiple year all hands on deck working remote model. This would also include all of the points in between that required focus on the end users’ work assignments.      New service levels were defined with the end users playing more of an active role in their own IT support. Home offices were redefined with guidance from the business regarding optimizing the home office experience.      During this aggressive transition, there was little concern about the costs to deliver remotely, it was simply now a requirement. Any entrance and exit costs which are the definition of the cost of change, were not perceived to be an issue with the priority getting the end users productive and working.      Many people think that they are open and flexible to change (just ask them). However, resistance to change takes on many forms including avoidance and dismissing out of hand. Given all of the elements needed to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis, if change can be avoided, it often is deferred.      In the post-pandemic era, change is the new standard. We have seen the future and understand that from an IT perspective, we

now must pay very close attention to the end user preferences and choices.      Change is an interesting dynamic. Most of us (including the author) resists change. It is often out of our comfort zone. Change is often deferred until the latest possible moment if it can be done. Frequently, change is deferred until the timeline to adopt is well within sight and “forces” adoption in an uncomfortable period of time.      In other words, it is often our own procrastination that creates the stress, or at least increases the stress levels for change.      Many will defer change with the ‘hope” that change will not be required. Humorously, it is often noted that “hope” is not a strategy.      Change can often be positive, and needs to be positioned accordingly. One of the reasons change has its reputation is that the rationale of change is not explained in enough detail that end users can see and understand the value. If the WIFM (What’s in it for me) is not explained, then why, as an end user, would I care?      IT over the years and to some degree earned the reputation we are now is trying to dispel. IT have introduced change on a weekly basis with updates, patches and other disruptions, often with no explanation other than “this needs to be done”.      As a result, the end user community has created a response to the changes required and likely provides feedback in several ways.      If you are in IT, you are a change agent. Everything you do impacts an end user or a community of end users. In the postpandemic era, with all of the goodwill earned by the IT agility and

empathy, fully communicating with end users will assist in dispelling perspectives and reducing preconceptions about the relationship between IT and the end users.      Change is dynamic and will accelerate in the post-pandemic era as a result of the number of IT strategic issues that need to be addressed.      For every change that occurs, there will be a response or reaction. By communicating what will be changing, the responses will become more predictable and, therefore, more addressable.      Town hall meetings, all employees sessions, and local face-toface sessions are all a part of the communications process, it is likely that the local interaction will further re-establish the comfort level with change.      No surprises has been one of the themes of this book in discussing expectations of managers and employees. Change should never be a surprise. Change is a planned function of IT, and the business, and is often known for some time before being implemented.      In the post-pandemic era for IT, change is going to be at an accelerated rate. The number of projects in the IT pipeline are likely to be numerous. IT might consider assuring that the end users have some level of appropriate knowledge about the IT project pipeline.      Many organizations now have a position for an end user experience leader. The leader should be focused on assuring that the changes being contemplated and in motion are effectively communicated. There may be developing roles for IT liaisons in organizations where the number of IT projects is such that stakeholder engagement with communications is warranted.

     Certain industries have developed very mature communications and liaison functions organizationally. It may be beneficial for IT to engage with those vertical businesses to see if there is a best practice that could be adopted and included in the local business IT planning.



Self-Made “Headwinds”

  T RENDS ARE OFTEN CREATED BY our own actions and preferences. In some cases, the demand for change is perceived to be a “headwind” even if the root cause is based upon an individual or end user choice. It is important to make sure that the root cause of trends that may result in changes is understood not only by IT, but the overall organization.      This chapter will discuss the self-made or end user(s)/employee driven initiatives that could drive changes in IT or the business. Referring to these as “headwinds” suggests that the root cause is externally driven not internal to an organization, which may, or may not, be the case.      For these types of elements, the business must be introspective and understand the role that decisions play in how these end user/employee driven initiatives are created and continue. In some cases, the self-made “headwinds” are the result of the trends that are occurring in the marketplace.

  Pre-Pandemic Thinking versus Post-Pandemic Thinking

       During the pandemic there were a number of key IT initiatives that will and have begun to translate into the post-pandemic strategies. As discussed in previous chapters, many of the prepandemic strategies and trends were well underway before the pandemic itself.      So, what might the IT legacy be in this post-pandemic era?

     Closed Loop Lifecycle has identified ten pillars that perhaps provide the fulcrum for the post- pandemic IT. All of these pillars are integrated, and none of them stand-alone. These pillars are part of larger IT strategies, but are individually identifiable.      Among those pillars are:

  Pillar #1 End User Centric IT

       The pandemic led IT to the conclusion that in order to set up remote work, it was necessary to truly understand what work is to be performed. Even in determining who were in the essential workers category, it was imperative for IT to focus on the end users.      This has led to a conclusion by many in IT that there needs to be an increase in really focusing on the end user requirements and their role. Building an architecture based on the elements of choice is most desirable for the end users.      Part of the criteria that many candidates consider when seeking employment is the level of IT investment and support that they will be receiving.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded that for many end users (and customers) - “investment equals commitment.” This premise is a lynchpin in Appropriate Incumbent      Appropriate Incumbent explores the set of expectations that end users have for their incumbent supplier (in this case IT). When those expectations align with the behavior, end user experience and satisfaction is positive. When the expectations do not align, there is a mismatch.

     As end users, the impact could be not only end user satisfaction, but perhaps even a decision to change to another employer whose core value of investment in the end user more closely aligns to their expectations.      In the post-pandemic era, the end user centric models will carry the day. The bar for support and innovation has been established, and today the end users have an expectation that choice, agility, and flexibility are now part of the IT DNA.

  Pillar #2 Speed to Solution

       One of the key lessons learned from the pandemic, is that speed matters in terms of execution by IT. The deployment of end users to work from home, and in the education segment, to learn from home, did not provide a significant amount of lead time to plan and design as typically would occur.      While not fully reactive, IT responded in a very coordinated and integrated manner, building a consensus up front on what was to be approached, and then how the services would be delivered.      In this respect, during the pandemic, IT became a service provider. Everything that was a part of the pandemic response from IT was simply another service level to the end users. This service delivery strategy is the same that outsourcers and outtasking have leveraged for years, and now it became an internal mechanism.      Whether this approach was a conscious or unconscious decision, the result and outcome is fundamentally the same.

     In many businesses, the approach was sort of reversed engineered. Taking the outcome (working from home) and determining the steps to implement that solution became a foundational building block. Inhibitors were identified and overcome during the execution process. This should not be taken as an assumption that there were few problems, of course there were, however, these problems were overcome by the sense of urgency to get the end users productively working.      In this process, IT organizations learned firsthand the value that speed to solution represents. Being able to respond in such a timely manner and achieving the results, validated that the processes developed were effective. Collapsing the steps in the processes, without ignoring the discipline required, became an “art” form for IT.      Rapid response in many organizations is becoming part of the new IT DNA. As senior leaders view IT and the initiatives proposed, they will be aware of the value that the speed to solution can deliver.      The game changing behavior here is that post-pandemic, the extended timeframes over which many IT projects carry over from year-to-year, or for extended periods of time, could very well be challenged. The lag time from decisions being made, to the approval of the budgets, to execution could be significantly shortened if leadership understands what IT is truly capable of delivering.      On the other hand, IT should recognize that the expectations have changed. Agility now includes timeliness of solution. Projects that cover phases year-to-year only to arrive at a solution at some distant point in time (if at all given intervening distractions) is

now likely to be recast. IT will not have the luxury of extending the timeframes.      Part of the narrative has been the constraints that IT has been working under which is funding and resources. The time to solution should now be a significant part of the framework business case in this post-pandemic era.

  Pillar #3 Data Driven Decisions

       Retailers, sales, services, and support across all industries have learned and understand the value and of data. Customer relationship management, predictive analytics, proactive analytics, and artificial intelligence have now come of age. Many businesses have been leveraging these disciplines for many years, which has enabled them to become market leaders.      Other businesses have deferred for a wide variety of reasons in adopting a data driven model. Among the reasons to not fully engage include cost, resources, skill sets, priorities, time; the list could go on and on.      Closed Loop Lifecycle concludes that data driven decisions are now table stakes given the pandemic. In truth, the table stakes were created before the pandemic, however, with the acceleration of hybrid and modernization, many of the inhibitors have become more of “excuses”. Data driven decisions could challenge traditional approaches and how decisions themselves are made.      Data driven decisions have been critical for IT to understand the work from home model. Many businesses have recognized this

gap in information and are taking, or have taken, steps to fill the information void.      In the post-pandemic era, data driven decisions will be the norm, and businesses who have not embraced this fundamental framework will be at a serious disadvantage.

  Pillar #4 Next Gen Collaboration

       Pre-pandemic the changing demographics, the geographic distribution of the workforce, and the trend for globalization had influenced the changes in how end users and businesses collaborate. The changes included have alternatives by multiple suppliers with robust and, in many cases, complimentary solutions. The changing collaboration landscape and the business requirements that drove adoption, was literally a game changing strategy in the midst of the pandemic.      It is inconceivable to picture how managers, employees, and colleagues could communicate effectively without collaboration tools and solutions. As critical, are the relationships between buyers and sellers, logistics (supply chains) and suppliers, and customers and partners. The point is that all business touchpoints really require collaboration.      Once the work from home model was reality during the pandemic, collaboration was not only mainstream but a foundational requirement to be a going concern. The investments in collaboration pre-pandemic and during the pandemic were nothing short of brilliant.

     As we look at the post-pandemic era, collaboration remains critical to the business. While the work from home may transition to more of the hybrid model, the requirement for on demand collaboration and solutions will only increase.      The pandemic had the unintended IT consequence of reinforcing and training the end users in the value of collaboration.      In the mind of the end users, collaboration remotely is often a preferred approach since the logistics have become very easy to implement. There are now fewer barriers to entry in this discipline and few excuses not to embrace the value delivered.      One of the lessons learned during the pandemic, is that with many customers, remotely connecting to their account teams, support teams, services teams, and marketing teams actions could be accomplished with ease. Whether the teams are internal or external, the remote collaboration opinion is now the first consideration with face-to-face or otherwise being a more distant second.      Many global businesses have been quick to point out that for years the collaboration has been remote, and will remain so in the future.      One of the advantages of remote collaboration is that it is now easy to schedule and with the ability to view schedules, it is more responsive to the availability of the resources.

  Pillar #5 Hybrid Workplace


     In the opinion of Closed Loop Lifecycle one of the key enduring strategies that will continue for the foreseeable future is the hybrid work model. While not new to the marketplace, the scale that the pandemic required has created a strategy that will endure throughout future generations.      To a degree, the pandemic re-defined “work”. Work is now another outcome. As an outcome, why is it important to the business where and how this outcome is achieved, as long as the quality and timeframe are acceptable. (Please note that the chapter discussing the manager training gaps plays a significant role in this emerging discipline).      To be clear, in many if not most cases where work from home was required during the pandemic, there was no choice - end users could not work in an office. Some of this was driven by regulation, but much was also driven by end user choice.      As the post-pandemic era approaches, or is here at the time of this writing, the hybrid model has become an accepted part of the business processes. Whether or not a business embraces the hybrid model is a hotly debated topic. This book will not get into the politics nor the social implications, but rather focus on the end users themselves.      The emerging hybrid model can be summarized as follows based upon the business preference:

  - Certain businesses want employees to be in the company facility full time - Certain businesses will have categories (user segments) of end users who will work from home and remotely full time

- Certain businesses will require certain end users to work in the company facility a set number of days (2 to 3 days) - Certain businesses will require certain end users to work in the home office of remotely a set number of days (2 to 3 days)

       In this emerging hybrid model, the front line managers have a significant amount of latitude for establishing their departmental directions.      Senior leaders typically make their point of view known and in some cases those opinions may, or may not, align to the end users/employees point of view. When this occurs, there is a disruption in the process and consequences on both sides of the equation.      The post-pandemic era will drive the hybrid model and build upon the framework and architecture required for a new workplace and workforce model.

  Pillar #6 Consumerization

       In the pre-pandemic world, there was always the promise that internal IT would commence to look and feel more like end users’ personal online experience. IT in many organizations were making strides in this area, however, results have been quite mixed.      In the pre-pandemic era, the consumerization requested by end users represented an “ask”. There was little sense of urgency or priority (so much for focusing on the end user experience). The pandemic itself, changed the priority.

     End users were both employees and consumers of online IT services both internally and externally. Externally, with online buying and acquiring of personal goods and services, end users could now firsthand see the delta between the in business and outside of business experience. The noise and asks had become much louder to IT.      Post-pandemic IT is focused on consumerization understanding that to the next generations of end users, plus the existing headcount base of employees, consumerization is no longer aspirational, there must be a plan and commitment.      Consumerization is a growing part of the end user experience.      The answer to much of the challenge is adoption of modern management. As a byproduct of modern management comes the more automated, end user enabled portfolios with improved performance and responsiveness.      The pandemic has reset expectations for the “how” the IT portfolio can be provided. The question is whether businesses will pay attention.

  Pillar #7 New IT Services

       In the pre-pandemic timeframes, the businesses and IT were developing plans for the next five years with fundamental changes occurring in the marketplace such as modernization and an emerging cost imperative.      When the pandemic hit, the best catch phrases to consider are - “stop the presses” and “all hands on deck”. The IT responses were impressive.

     As end users were deployed to their home offices, new service levels were required to be considered, and in many cases adopted. The pandemic itself ushered in an era of self-enablement by the end users and a new role for IT as a service provider.      For years, self-enablement has been desired by the business and IT as a lower cost, lower touch service delivery model. With so many end users now working from home, many IT organizations remotely imaged devices, shipped the devices to the end user’s home, then remotely set up the device. The end users were responsible for the timely return of the previously installed device.      Ongoing maintenance (break/fix) was remotely handle with mail in replace or a drop off strategy. For the most part, desk side visits to end users homes was not viable nor cost effective.      With this as a very brief set up, let’s fast forward to the postpandemic era.      Self-enablement has always been about changing end user behavior and the sense of entitlement of IT services and support. In the past, end users were adamant about “not doing IT’s job” as the point of view to avoid self-enablement.      The pandemic changed the behavior out of necessity. With the post-pandemic hybrid model, many of the premises of the selfenablement are extended and will likely be expanded. The new service levels that IT is delivering or will be delivering in the future, will most certainly include the end user participation.      It is interesting that GenZ and Millennials are very receptive to self-enablement while other end users who have time and tenure in a workplace over the years have been resistant to this change. The best example of this is password resets.

     Ever since the dawn of time (okay, I am exaggerating here), password resets have been the #1 call into the service desk/help desk. There are and have been very good tools available for automated password reset, but in many businesses this practice has not been adopted fully.      Part of the issue is that IT remains in the password reset business. It is hard to drive change if there remains a high touch end user alternative at the same availability and costs. This perhaps is another lesson learned during this period.      As more end users work remotely, the ability to track and monitor how end users leverage the IT infrastructure becomes a very relevant topic. The data analytics can further provide insight into the new services that are required by IT to drive end user adoption of consumerization.      Think about online ordering as an example. During the pandemic as online adoption increased, if a customer needed to change a password, they typically leveraged an online tool not the personal interaction with a help desk agent. The question now is “why is internal IT any different that this experience?”      The pandemic had an IT consequence of mainstreaming access and training informally end users for potential internal adoption of the same IT strategies.

  Pillar #8 Automation

       Automation is at the crux of modern management and consumerization. During the pandemic, the challenge was to quickly and timely deploy equipment and get end users to a level

of productivity. To accomplish this task, there was a reliance on existing strategies and techniques to manage and deploy client devices, printers, and applications.      Most of the processes leveraged remained quite manual and high touch. There simply was not time to explore, test, and automate processes.      In the pre-pandemic era, IT was well aware of innovative automation tools and services that could provide more rapid time to solution and reduce costs. The timing of the pandemic disrupted any businesses plans for adoption and focused more on the “here and now” versus the future state.      Closed Loop Lifecycle identified The Ready as the response to the current state of IT response. The Ready requires a more immediate response to the stimuli that the business was facing.      The Ready recognized and acknowledged the potential leveraging of automation to accomplish traditional lifecycle management operations. The time for testing and planning was such that for many businesses the objective was reactionary, which it needed to be at the time.      As we enter a post-pandemic era, the strategy of leveraging automation should be renewed. Deferring the planning due to the pandemic was required. Post-pandemic, the planning and implementation is a requirement.      The post-pandemic era will drive automation. The high touch models are now simply too costly to continue and are not as effective for the end user experience. During the pandemic many of the management tools to be leveraged for automation have become much more mature reducing the level of time, resources, and effort required.

  Pillar #9 The Business Case

       In a sense, the pandemic bypassed governance relating to developing an approved business case which includes investments, return on investment, and benefit quantification.      Much of what IT and the business delivered were actions that simply “had to be done.”      The post-pandemic era will resume the requirement for a more definitive business case. We now know and understand challenges that businesses are facing in recruiting, attracting and retaining top talent. IT has a lot to do with that.      Improving the end user experience will require a level of investments. These investments, however, will be mitigated by quantifying the benefits of the value received.      IT and the business must resist the temptation to extend adoption of the modernization, consumerization, and automation over time. The business case should stress the timeliness and importance of adoption.      One of the lessons of recent history, not only the pandemic, is that there will always be events and circumstances that will disrupt business plans. Disruption can and should be a part of the planning process.      In the past, pre-pandemic, when we discussed disaster planning, it was relegated to a few natural events plus certain unplanned events. Extending the definition to the critical implementation to modernize the IT infrastructure over an extended period of time, the risk increases exponentially, and

would suggest a tighter rein on the timing for execution. Otherwise, events and circumstances will always intervene creating a disruption in the execution.      If you believe, as Close Loop Lifecycle that the modernization can mitigate many of the circumstances ultimately set to challenge the business, we would be in a better state of readiness. The Ready is dynamic, and is based upon current circumstances which will always be changing.

  Pillar #10 Governance

       Admittedly, no one likes to discuss governance. Governance is getting together a group of cross functional, disparate experts and leaders in sessions to determine policy, process, procedures, and “rules” to base a go forward plan.      Most organizations would privately suggest that in many cases, the governance discussions are avoided or deferred because the sessions are often contentious. Everyone has an opinion, and needs to be heard, but there still needs to be decisions made in order to proceed both tactically and strategically.      Pre-pandemic the need to revisit governance was a topic of discussion as new solutions were presenting themselves in the marketplace and new service delivery strategies were contemplated. Once in the pandemic, however the timing was not appropriate for these types of detailed conversations and planning and the theme was to react and get the end users and the business back on track.

     In the throes of the pandemic, the day-to-day took a much greater priority for IT to retain the level of confidence and support for the end user communities.      In the post-pandemic era, the need for updating previous governance and creating new governance cannot be overstated. A few specific examples might provide the insight relating to why this statement is so bold.      Governance has always lagged behind current practices. In The Ready the governance gap is very significant.      Think about the increased number of end users working from their home. In many cases, depending upon the industry, the number of end users working from home may have become 2X to 3X from the previous pre-pandemic figures.      In the post-pandemic era, assume that the figure is 1.5X to 2X. With the hybrid model it is quite possible that there will be high water marks on various days and times.      Existing governance does not account for such volumes. Standards for support, self-enablement, entitlements, technology refresh, return of equipment, plus other lifecycle and business elements - all need to be reassessed for this new volume and service delivery strategies.      Having an increased number of remote workers has a direct correlation to security. The bad actors have not lost sight of the fact that the end user’s home office represents a potential target that might be an easier vector to attack.      It has not been unusual for security to have a “one of everything model” to assure that current cyberattacks are addressed by security solutions. The overall governance should

include seeking to remove duplication of solutions and new techniques to address the cyberattack challenges.



Facility Strategy

  I N THE TIME BEFORE THE pandemic, businesses were already dealing with and addressing the emerging facility and corporate office strategies. The impact of the economy, the online experience, and the changing preferences by the workforce are among the factors that were driving the examination of the real estate strategy.      Pre-pandemic businesses were focusing on modernization of their existing office space providing more attractive and productive work spaces for the changing workforce. More open areas, hoteling, and modern updating to the actual physical appearance were part of the process. Organizations examined work groups and communities as new internally focused strategies were considered.      In the midst of the pandemic, everything changed. For essential workers, the office remained the focus. Industries such as certain retail, health care, and travel (as examples only) continued to have work performance as previously defined.      Most businesses were driven to remote working models. This had an immediate impact on the facility usage during this period of time of course. Those managers and leaders who continued to work out of the corporate facility viewed what the usage and availability might be in the future.      At that time, there was little that could be done about the footprint since every business was impacted, and the timing was not optimal for any considerations for change. There was an assumption by many that there would be a return to the office

once the pandemic would be over and that the end users would be “delighted” to return enthusiastically.      The post-pandemic era has yet to be fully determined in regard to the corporate real estate strategy, but the implications are quite visible. Closed Loop Lifecycle has a conclusion that seems to be an appropriate fit to the post-pandemic situation:      “End users want to return to the office, until they don’t.”      Businesses for years have talked about the work/life balance. Businesses coached their staffs to be mindful of the balance and focus on what is important and place context for priorities.      The duration of the pandemic provided a master class in the balance of work/life. Employees working from home now could directly see the benefits of the work/life balance from a unique perspective. Many preferred the work from home model, others did not and missed the day-to-day, face-to-face interactions.      End users in the post-pandemic era are facing the return to the commuting, travel, costs, and queue time required for working in a corporate facility. At the end of the pandemic, it seems that end users seek not directives from others including managers and leaders.      Some businesses have taken an aggressive stance, while others have taken a more measured, choice drive response. Time will tell which alternatives will be the optimal result.      What we do know to date, is that there was/is The Great Resignation where employees simply determined it is time for a change. Others have simply removed themselves from the existing workforce. There has been much written about these trends, and the potential responses including a resumption of legacy approaches.

     It is important to remember that pre-pandemic, there was a trend in the next generations in the workforce to change jobs frequently, having changing employers in the first few years in the workforce. This was occurring well before the pandemic and will likely continue post-pandemic. The importance to attract, recruit, and retain top talent remains a priority for businesses.      The real estate strategy and the workplace strategy plays a significant role in the stability of the workforce.      The post-pandemic era fosters the hybrid workplace model, this is not an absolute, but appears to be the trend. Given this, the real estate and corporate facility strategy needs to accommodate and address this change.      The corporate facilities, especially including a headquarters role whether corporate, regional, or otherwise represents the brand of the organization. Having an active, busy workplace is the brand for employees and any visitors to the corporate facility.      Leaders and managers should be, and for the most part, aware of the risks for the brand and morale that having too much available, non-productive space will have. The comparison used by Closed Loop Lifecycle is that businesses do not want their corporate facility to be compared to the malls with open stores and space, and not terribly busy.      Real estate relationships are often driven by leases and owned properties. Leases and ownership both represent unique models and considerations.      Leases are legal documents and are heavily negotiated. Many of us in our personal lives have rented apartments or other shorter term rentals. We understand from that experience that leases are a challenge to “break”.

     Leases are typically negotiated over a period of time, often measured in multiple years. The terms and conditions often include early cancellation provisions, adjustments, and other negotiated considerations. The objective of a lease is to protect both the lessor and the lessee from changes that would disrupt the relationship.      The cancellation provisions are often quite significant since there are a number of costs associated with the leasing structure. The ability to simply “walk away” is not reasonable to assume in any sense. For this reason, and others, leases are challenging to address from a long term strategy when an industry changes. Changes in a business strategy do not typically become categorized as a “force majeure” type of business case.      If the property is owned, there is yet another set of issues that real estate needs to consider and address. In many instances, property, plant, and equipment is often thought of as a “sunk” cost. The real estate can be part of an overall allocation or expense to the business operations. There are also tax considerations to assess by the business.      In many instances, the business may have received or have qualified for tax relief by various regulatory entities. If there is a change in the facility strategy that impacts the existing relationship, this represents yet another consideration to be addressed.      In take away from this chapter is that the return to office and the related disciplines have become cross functional in nature. Facilities must align with the human resources team, the IT team, the lines of business, and leadership to develop and implement the ongoing office strategy.

     When considering the post-pandemic facilities strategies, it is paramount to anticipate what types of changes to architect into both a lease agreement, and an ownership plan. The long term implications are now critical and represent significant costs and potential brand impact.      Perhaps the leasing industry will embrace a services concept in considering a lease more like a service level agreement, over time. Businesses are now seeking an ability to dial up and dial down the usage model of square footage.      The supply and demand for real estate will obviously play a major role in the strategies. What seems to be an obvious observation is that real estate and facility strategies from the prepandemic era are likely not optimal for the post-pandemic era.



The Conference Room

  C ONFERENCE ROOM AND THE ACCOMPANYING strategies to optimize the experience and usage is not a new topic nor discipline. These observations precedes the pre-pandemic era and have often been a point of contention for employees.      The demand for a conference rooms has been, and will continue to be, a challenge. Demand for conference room is hard to plan and anticipate. This was true pre-pandemic and is even more challenging post-pandemic since the hybrid model continues to develop and mature.      Just as user segmentation has become table stakes for the post-pandemic era, for conference rooms it is conference room segmentation.      Businesses need to examine the strategies for the types of conference rooms required by the end user communities. The types are not only a function of the number of end users, but also what the end users will be sharing. Is the conference room only for video and audio, or will there be file sharing and content creation, as examples.      The conference room strategy must be aligned with IT so that the end point device strategy is aligned to the room set up. In every conference room there will be likely a standard set up across the enterprise resulting in a wash-rinse-repeat process.      The conference room must be able to change its profile for requirements as we know those requirements will change. This is the crux of agility for this discipline. That’s right - the conference room is now a discipline.

     Previously in the pre-pandemic era, conference rooms and collaboration were addressed by different organizations within the business. Conference rooms were often driven by facilities and planned with real estate floor planning. Collaboration was a part of the IT end point and networking teams.      The post-pandemic era will very likely see the organizational model be collapsed due to the significant dependency on conference rooms and collaboration. The room sizes, the number of end users participating, the technical requirements, are examples of the issues that need to be addressed.      Integration into the hybrid workplace model is an important element. Think of the following type of scenario. When an end user works from home collaborating with teams both nationally, and perhaps globally, the IT team provides front line support and configuration as a part of the relationship.      Now, when the end user goes to the office, there is often a facility focus and a different team to deal with regarding the set up and technology, not to mention the scheduling and technical set up of the room itself.      End users seek simplicity and ease of use. Having two different teams addressing collaboration may be part of legacy and could be reviewed.

  Nomenclature Matters


     Perhaps the term “conference room” is now outdated. Conference room is a term that has been around “forever”. Mention it to various constituencies, and the term has a lot of implications and reactions.

     Closed Loop Lifecycle has long concluded that - “a negative experience outlives the positive experience.”      End users recall very vividly when a resulting experience did not meet the expectations. The words “conference rooms” brings to mind legacy; there has always been conference rooms in the facility.      Perhaps a more descriptive term would be “collaboration room”, or some sort of variation. If IT and the business is going to innovate and reinvest the experience, referring to it in the same manner might impact perceptions.

  End User Perspective


     From an end user perspective, there are several areas where end users continue to be quite vocal about. Among these concerns are:

  - Conference Room Availability - Modernization of the Conference Room - Choice of Conference Room Types - Re-Defining Conferencing - Scheduling of Conference Rooms - Governance - Whose Room Is It Anyway?

       Since the pandemic (2019) businesses have had time to think about the post-pandemic era. There had to be consideration given to what the return to the workplace would be. The hybrid

workplace model was in significant discussion throughout the pandemic. Just assuming that end users would return to the same facility, conference rooms, and entitlement arrangements would seem to be quite a leap of faith.      Businesses that do not have a revised plan, or assume that the previous strategy will work, may miss the opportunity to optimize costs, experience, and all of the related benefits of improved communications and productivity.      This chapter briefly addresses some of the end users concerns and expectations.

  Conference Room Availability


     End users have a very simple expectation regarding conference rooms - “when I need it, it must be available.” This succinctly sets the expectation of the end user.      If a conference room is needed, and for whatever reason is not available, then the end user’s productivity is impacted. It is important to reflect that the availability is not about the sole end user. There are many other end users, and perhaps organizations that are impacted.      The lack of availability impacts the timing and the timeliness of information sharing. If there is a live project involved, the lack of conferencing may impact the project timeline.      If there are capacity constraints, there must be communications to the end user community to set expectations, otherwise, the end users should be comfortable in assuming availability.      A comparison illustrates this point. As consumers we all know and appreciate trying to find a parking space at our favorite mall

during the holidays. Sometimes we are lucky and find a parking place quickly, but most of the time that is not the case. We find our parking space though the “theory of concentric circles.”      Conference rooms are not unlike that experience. If the processes to schedule, use, participate, and leverage conference rooms is anything like our parking experience, we will simply avoid it. Candidly, many end users acknowledge that and will defer to remote access for collaboration.

  Modernization of the Conference Room


     As end users return to the corporate facility whether is full time or hybrid, they will specifically become aware quickly if there have been any improvement in the technologies available. Modernization of the conference rooms is all about the technology.      End users have expectations about video and audio quality. Laptops now have high definition and best in class audio delivered by well-known suppliers many of whom deliver in both the consumer and commercial segments of the marketplace.      It is also assumed by the end users that there will be minimal, if any, latency or performance issues. The configurations that are leveraged in the conference rooms reflect enough capacity to not only provide audio and video in a best in class manner, but the ability to share files and related content as well as stream videos and other media.      The conference room experience must become more like the consumer experience where streaming video, high resolution graphics, and state of the art audio is expected.

     If after several years, the return to the office has the same technology and conference room footprint, the end user experience and innovation curve might have been missed. At a minimum it will be the same end user experience as the pre-pandemic experience. In other words, no continuous process improvement.

  Choice of Conference Room Types


     Just like many other service levels, conference rooms have a “one size fits all” type of mantra. While there may have been some differences, primarily in the number of end users that could comfortably participate in a conference room, the technology and accommodations was similar, if not the same, from conference room to conference room.      Businesses tended to err on the size of moderate to larger conference rooms. Pre-pandemic there was a movement to reduce the sizes and offer more touch down areas, or smaller venues, but this was commenced as a part of the “office of the future” conversations at that time, before hybrid workplace evolved.      In the post-pandemic era, the conference room strategies will take on a strategy that resembles user segmentation and personas - think about it as conference room segmentation.      Based upon business requirements, organizations will identify the number and types of conference rooms that are appropriate to the return to office strategies and hybrid work. This marks the likely end of the conference room “one size fits all” approach.      Just how many unique conference room profiles are required will vary by business and organization. Some will certainly be trial and error as the hybrid model has a direct impact on in-person

attendance. The conference room requires a commute to the office, so if the hybrid model requires a set number of days in an office and that day is set for all end users, the conference room will have a spike on certain days.      On other days there will be fewer end users in an office. The risk is that the conference room may become a de facto office space instead of a reserved collaboration space. While this may seem like “we are at least getting use from the space when there is not a formal conference occurring”, this model is over subscribing for an end users’ office and should be re-considered.

  Re-Defining Conferencing

       With the re- definition of conferencing, to more of a collaboration model, the portfolio that IT defines for the new service levels will directly impact all of the end users in the organization regardless of where they perform their job assignments.      The operational definition of collaboration and how it is architected will directly define the requirements for facilities. Workspace will be dependent upon the type of collaboration as well as the number of end users collaborating. Businesses actually have been leveraging this approach for years, but without redefinition of the workspace.      As businesses strategize on optimizing the footprint and reducing costs, depending upon the due diligence, businesses will define a much more persona driven model.

     For user segmentation, the conference room and collaboration model will likely be in a range of 5 to 7 conference room spaces. With modular design and architecture, the number of defined rooms may not require a new facility, but perhaps more of adjusting specific existing space.      One of the fundamental concerns raised by end users is the rooms sound proofing (for lack of a better name). End users do not want to hear background noise, other conversations, or distractions from adjacent or nearby rooms.      In architecting the new collaboration spaces, consideration must be given to this very consistent feedback from the end users.

  Scheduling of Conference Rooms

       It is fair to say that over the years, the scheduling of conference rooms has been a significant issue for many, if not most, businesses.      Previous generations of scheduling software, lacked the robust abilities for sign up and reporting out for end users for planning purposes. In addition, the associated governance for scheduling has always had significant gaps.      In many businesses, end users might arrive early in the day and “stake out” conference rooms even though they were the sole person, or a minimal number of persons, taking a very significant footprint. Many of these issues were unscheduled resulting in a term - “squatting”.      “Squatting” is quite common and occurs when space appears to be available since others might not look (or care) to check out

the committed scheduling. “Squatters” tends to spread out in a conference room providing the appearance of requiring a large room. In most cases there is no consequence for “squatting” other than a “rolling of the eyes” and perhaps an uncomfortable moment.      Scheduling software must be managed and have not only consequence but accountability. There must be a level of centralized administration.      The final point to be made about the conference room is that conferencing is only a part of the post-pandemic facility and office strategy. The parallel is defining overall workspace that can accommodate the volume, type, and requirements of the end users in the facilities.      End users have offered an interesting parallel. Seeking a conference room, or a quiet place to work in the office, should not be like trying to find a parking spot during the holidays at the mall. There is a sense of frustration when this occurs.      Fortunately, there is no “road rage” but if an end user who is not in the office permanently and works remotely on some days, discovers that the conference rooms are not available this will add to their conviction to be working at home.


       Closed Loop Lifecycle has a strong predilection for governance. In most circumstances governance has lagged well behind technology and trends in the marketplace. This is likely the case with conference rooms in the post-pandemic era.

     Further, governance is meaningless if there is a lack of management reporting and a consequence if the governance is not followed. Otherwise, why have governance in the first place?      As the business re-thinks the post-pandemic conference room strategies, the governance for the various aspects identified in this chapter, plus many others, need to be documented and re-cast to be modern and optimize the facility and real estate footprint.      Examples of newly developed governance models could be:

  - Requiring scheduling for all conference rooms of a certain size and scope

- Defining requirements for the smaller size more focused on collaboration groups - Providing consequences for not leveraging the process such as “squatting” - Defining restrictions for certain lines of business or end user usage

       To be clear the above topics are simply some examples, but overall the message is that for the next generation of conference rooms and collaboration, the governance does need to be reassessed.      To be effective, governance must have consequences. One of the challenges with conference rooms and scheduling is what is the recourse if it is not available or already in use by an employee without scheduling?      The answer in most cases is that there is no consequence when the scheduling processes are not followed. “I’m telling” may

be the response, but aside from the time when we were all children, it has little if any impact. Besides, who do you tell anyway?

  Whose Room Is It Anyway?


     Early in the process in redefining the conference room strategy is a question of the organization. The new conference and collaboration strategy is a combination of multiple disciplines. In the post-pandemic era, this organizational model and accountability needs to be formally defined, and included in the governance as well as roles and responsibilities.      If the recasting of the organization responsible for the conference rooms, if it is not addressed, there will be political implications, finger pointing, and end user dis-satisfaction. End users want a single point of contact, not a matrix based upon stovepipes that previously existed in the pre-pandemic era.      There needs to be a single point of contact and accountability organizationally. This statement should not be interpreted as eliminating other input, insight, skills, or responsibilities - the success of the next generation conferencing is dependent upon multiple organizations working together. However, there must be a lead organization with the charter and responsibility for ownership of the solution, including all of the aspects.      The challenge is that several organizations can lay claim to be the owner of the conferencing strategy, and each plays enough of the role to be credible in that claim. This is an area where leadership comes into play where management need to identify and support the organizational model. If not, the finger pointing

will commence literally immediately when an end user(s) provides a critique.      There is a business case to be made for each organization to have a role in the conference room strategy, and at the end of the day, the leader will have the responsibility to develop the coalition to drive best in class.      Among the organizations which would be engaged include (and by no means is this a complete list):

  - IT - Facilities - Real Estate - Finance - Purchasing - Lines of Business - Senior Leadership

- Legal - Human Resources

       It should be noted that every business is unique so the coalition may vary from business to business and industry to industry.      The list of stakeholders in the new conferencing strategy is not insignificant. That is the reason that governance needs to be rewritten and that a single point of contact identified, and agreed upon.




  T HE POST-PANDEMIC ENVIRONMENT WILL BE more driven by security as a top priority. In the pre-pandemic era, security was already top of mind and a concern. The pandemic itself did little to abate any concerns about security.      The home office is largely considered by IT staffs as a “black hole” with less ability to fully manage as if the home office were a corporate facility. Understanding that this is likely an overstatement, there is a basis of truth in the ability to fully manage and govern the home offices without investment and a new architecture in place.      At the onset of the pandemic there was little time to scale security and management counter measures to anticipate what the bad actors might be considering. What we do know is that attacks focused on the home office increased significantly. In response to that stimulus, many businesses imply acquired “one of everything” that seems to address security issues of the day.      To that point, security counter measures that were already in place, were continued, with very few eliminated from the counter measure mix. Additional modules from existing portfolios were added.      As the post-pandemic era is entered, there must be a more focused measured strategy regarding security. The “one of everything” might bring a certain comfort level, but it might not reduce risk.      One of the unintended consequences of the “one of everything” strategy is the impact on the system performance and the end

user experience.      Having “one of everything” suggests that there are multiple agents residing on the end point devices. Moreover, these agents will be from multiple software and hardware providers. At the time of booting up, shutting down and coming in and out of hibernation, these agents, and the related software will impact performance.      It was not unusual during the pandemic to hear complaints from end users about system performance in these areas. As a result, there was an impact to the end user experience.      From an overall security perspective, in the post-pandemic era, the timing is appropriate for a thorough review of all security counter measures. The review should not only include the hardware and software engaged, but a review of the governance and the related policy, process, and procedures.      The overall review should be based upon the anticipated changes that include the new cyberattack vectors, the hybrid workplace, modern management, and entitlements. This is all a part of the larger initiative of rationalization of the management tool footprint.


       When all three phases are considered - pre-pandemic, the pandemic, and the post-pandemic - it is fair to assume that the same governance that drove one phase (and the period before in the case of pre- pandemic) are the same requirements, scope, and scale required in the various phases. The bad actors change with

the times and evolve, and their attacks become more sophisticated and scaled.      It is quite likely that many of the businesses have not had a full governance review of all security risks and counter measures over this period of time. So much has changed that it is appropriate to have as a part of the post-pandemic planning and design, a deep dive into the security tools currently in place.      The post-pandemic era will see an increase in the types of cyberattacks and more scaled cyberattacks. At the same time, phishing attacks continue at near record paces as more end users work remotely.      Every vertical industry has the need to examine the current state of its governance to determine if the same governance still applies to the developing era of modern management.      Security in the post-pandemic era will be one of the top issues to be addressed. Unfortunately the challenge will not be going away any time soon. The latest iteration is the rise in ransomware in the industry, and specifically to disrupt more critical operations in industries.      The country is considering the migration to a Zero Trust movement. In this movement and framework, all access is checked before engagement. Most of the security management tools in place today address cyberattacks after the fact. Zero Trust approaches the challenge before engagement.      There are elements of the solution already available, but these tools sets are not yet integrated to form a holistic interoperability security suite. Today, the security response is a series of often non-integrated toolsets each performing and delivering a specific counter measure to address a specific vector of a cyberattack.

     Zero Trust may well represent the next generation of cybersecurity by integrating elements into a pre-attack counter measure by simply assuming that all sources should not be trusted.      At the time of this writing, the Zero Trust approach is a framework, but based upon very solid logic and architecture. Other solutions in the industries have leveraged a cross platform architecture to develop new applications and focus on standardization across the security tools in place today.

  Hybrid Model

       The post-pandemic era will see the migration complete from limited or specific use cases or personas working at home in the pre-pandemic era to the new hybrid model.      The new hybrid model, while not universally adopted, does represent an interim step in the developing process. Many organizations have a hybrid model that can be summarized with the following types of options, including:

  - Full time in the corporate office - Full time at home office - Number of days at the corporate office - Number of days working from home

       These represent the various alternatives for employees based upon roles, personas, and management discretion. Security may

have different counter measures depending upon the mix and the employee strategy on the workplace.      Phishing remains the biggest challenge in the hybrid model with the home office being the target for many cyberattacks. The bad actors have gotten very good at appearing to be legitimate sites or companies. Despite all of the investment in training end users, phishing remains a very effective cyberattack.      The home office based cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and the signs more subtle to identify non-cyberattack emails and attachments. Even though end users are trained not to access unknown sources, it is not infrequent when this occurs.      As a result, phishing is one of the more common ways ransomware enters the infrastructures across all industries.

  New and Existing Cyberattack Vectors

       The pandemic era brought to fruition existing vectors for cyberattacks and new vectors to be addressed. In some respects even the suspected sources of the cyberattacks have become quite variable during the overall pandemic era.      During the pandemic the phishing based on the home offices became more pervasive. Often considered spam, many end users did click on the emails and then were compromised. Despite the training and dialogs, the volume of attacks and the subtlety of the emails, provides entry into the more exposed hybrid venue.      Ransomware attacks became much more visible and reported on during the pandemic, and in the post-pandemic era. Health

care in particular has a significant ongoing concern regarding ransomware.      The media, which has often been more silent on the ransomware attacks and the accompanying details, based to some degree by regulatory issues, have become much more aware in their reporting.      Based upon much of the recent reporting at the time of writing this book, state sponsored cyberattacks have been more in the news. The scope and venues have become more visible in their profile.      Even cyberattacks have news associated with the times we live in. With the collapse of one of the crypto currencies, the nature of ransomware could potentially change in terms of making crypto currency less viable.      The use of crypto currency for ransomware is popular for bad actors due to the fact that it is virtually impossible to track. As a payment scheme, being untraceable obviously is highly desirable. With the latest current events, imagine the potential impact if US currency become the payment for ransomware.      At this time, there remain many crypto currencies for bad actors to leverage so the trend will likely continue. However, if there become technical solutions to track crypto currency, the landscape could change rather quickly.

  New Thinking

       As a consequence of the trend in cyberattacks, a new concept that has been discussed is now going beyond the conceptual

phases.      It is clear, as an example, when thinking about phishing, that employee stewardship, employee training, and education is simply not enough to thwart bad actors. In a sense, many end users or individuals almost assume that they will have an identify breach at some point. If these do seem inevitable, then the “guard” may be let down a bit in the process.      The bad actors have developed strategies and formats that really do have the look and feel of real websites. Many end users and businesses are late in identifying websites that contain malware, adware, and other viruses. Many of the anti-cyberattack solutions are after the fact. In other words, post infection. In these cases, it is about the lag time from infection, to notification, to the fix.      The next generation of cyberattack protection will likely be a Zero Trust, AI driven set of architectures and solutions.      In a Zero Trust architecture the concept is that there simply is no assumption that the websites, emails, and other potential attack vectors are safe. If it is assumed that all incoming approaches are a risk, then proactive counter measures are deployment, before infection.      It is clear to many that in the post-pandemic era, the Zero Trust approach may be the “ultimate” protection. However, such counter measures are early in the actual development, although the frameworks are documented and being driven by the Federal government and adopted by businesses as a de facto standard.      In the next 12 to 24 months, the Zero Trust initiatives will very likely represent the next generation of post-pandemic security.



Employee Turnover and the Pandemic

  B EFORE THE PANDEMIC, THERE WERE trends already in motion that impacted employee behavior. The pandemic for a wide range of reasons accelerated and expanded many, if not all of these trends and factors.      The pandemic represents an inflection point. Decisions needed to be made, family by family, person by person, and relationship by relationship. One of the relationships is the employee/employer relationship.      While there are a number of driving factors which has impacted turnover, it is the culmination and aggregation of circumstances that brings us to where we are today. Among these circumstances are:

  - The Pandemic - Great Recession - Retirements - Work/Life Balance - Demographics - Downsizing - Unions - Supply Chain - Contingent Labor


     It is widely thought that when an event or incident is over, it is, well, over. Unfortunately that is a naïve and fundamentally untrue perception.      In many cases, the effects of certain circumstances can last over an extended period of time. No matter what the spin, in most if not all of the strategic circumstances we have found ourselves in, there is rarely a short term fix that makes all of the implications go away or become mitigated.      In most cases, it is improvement over a period of time, and sometimes over a long(er) period of time that defines the next era.

  The Pandemic

       When the pandemic hit, the events preceding up to the pandemic were already impacting the stability of the employee base with turnover and satisfaction issues. This chapter addresses the cumulative effect, which as a result of the pandemic really highlighted, and drove further implications for the workforce, the economy, and the businesses.      The era of the pandemic inherited a number of very high profile, highly visible, and very public issues in the workforce. In the midst of the pandemic however, there was not a lot employers could do to address the larger issues. To some degree, there was a wait and see perspective, since no one knew what the results to the businesses would be.      At the same time, there was innovation occurring in technology that would enable and engage a more remote and robust

workforce.      In the post-pandemic era, how all of these factors aggregate at the business level will largely determine the next few budget cycles and how the employee population’s satisfaction will be impacted.      In the opinion of Closed Loop Lifecycle there was a fundamental dynamic changing - work began to morph from being a career to being a job. This is not true for everyone of course, but there was a growing belief that the trade-off between a job and a career was changing.      With all of the other dynamics occurring at the same time, or in the recent past building up to the timing of the pandemic, the employee relationship with the business had already commenced to change.

  The Great Recession

       In 2009-2010 there was The Great Recession. The Great Recession was a tumultuous time driven by uncertainly and a very destabilized economy.      As small and large businesses tried to adapt, many did not. As a result, businesses struggled. Investments in the IT infrastructure that were normally made, were deferred. Elements such as maintenance, support, new hires, updates, technology refresh were simply deferred.      Once deferred, and once the recovery commenced, there was little appetite or budget to modernize and update on a priority basis, it was necessary to re-align revenues and expenses.

     When you look at the timing, it often does take decade(s) for a business to fully recover. In many cases, businesses downsized to survive or changed their business model.      As the 2019-2020 pandemic era commenced, the implications from The Great Recession still remained making the pandemic recovery, and the related IT investments even more of a challenge.


       During the pre-pandemic era, businesses did perceive the changing demographics and the need to have a more balanced portfolio in the employee demographics. The cost of a Baby Boomer workforce compared to transitioning to a more Millennial/GenX portfolio looked quite attractive as an alternative.      To facilitate and accelerate this migration, across all business segments, retirement packages became available under certain criteria.      Certain conditions needed to be met, by industry, by businesses, but overall the idea was to comfortably and predictably embrace the changing demographics that was clearly the trend moving forward.      One of the interesting changes in the fundamentals of work itself, is the job changing focus that is associated with the next generations in the workforce. As a result in many businesses, there has been a churn in their workforce with job changes in a range of 12-24 months. Again, this is quite variable by industry and segment.

     It seems that the next generation in the workforce has a set of criteria that the employer must satisfy in order for the next generation to remain with the firm. It is not clear at the time of this writing if this trend is repeatable and will continue, but it is identifiable and real.      The levels of the Baby Boomers electing to retire is also quite variable. Many of the retirement packages had somewhat mixed results. Part of the rationale could be that the time from The Great Recession still resonated in the minds of the Baby Boomers which continued to generate concerns.

  Work/Life Balance

       The pandemic enabled employees to experience firsthand what the remote work model is like. While not voluntary due to quarantines and lockdowns in many cases, the experience provided the knowledge base and a thorough understanding of remote working.      As a result of the pandemic, and its interaction with other trends and circumstances, the work/life balance that employees heard so much about pre-pandemic was now a part of the actual work experience. Some employees prefer remote, others do not. Th evolving hybrid model may be the result going forward and over time.      Working from home and avoiding the daily commute to work out of a company facility is often cited as another rationale to remain working from home. Depending upon where you reside, and the distance from the workplace, this could mean anywhere

from 1 to 2 hours per day (or more) in the process of a commute.      What will drive (no pun intended) the remote work in the postpandemic workplace is the employees’ perspective on the work/life balance. It is no longer a hypothetical issue; it is a very real factor in employee engagement and retention.


       The changing demographics has been in motion for some time. Currently with five generations in the workforce, with the other dynamics of Baby Boomer retirement, and other factors, Millennials and GenZ are positioned to be well over half of the workforce.      Another way to look at the implications for IT in the postpandemic workforce is that the workforce will likely become quickly a Millennial based with a definitive expertise in technology having grown up with mobility.      The post-pandemic IT strategies must acknowledge the changing demographics and determine what the new, modern optimization will look like.      The changing demographics is one of the key drivers in the post-pandemic era of the IT strategies.


       For a wide variety of reasons, at the time of the writing of this book, there is a lack of alignment in businesses revenues and the

businesses operating expenses. Consumers buying habits have changed, values are changing, as well as the trends discussed earlier. Add to this, the supply chain and the economy vulnerabilities, many businesses are downsizing their workforce. This is out of necessity, and is a part of aligning the supply and demand cycles.      Downsizing is actually the correct verbiage since right sizing suggests that the workforce was not correct at some point in the past. However, the workforce at the time, was appropriately sized. Certain industries such as hospitality, airlines, retail, and others were directly impacted by the pandemic and are now entering recovery periods, which takes time.      The impact on IT is significant. The IT infrastructure must now be able to dial up and dial down with more speed than before. This dynamic makes the cloud approach to IT infrastructure more attractive.


       It is not unanticipated that given all of the external factors culminating in the timeframe of the pandemic, as we enter into the endemic period, labor unions have become more of interest and are now a more frequent topic of conversation and consideration.      From an IT perspective, the potential of unions impacts IT service levels and entitlements, not to mention the employers.      Unions play an absolutely critical role in the supply chain of moving products from global, national, and local locations to

distribution centers. The process works well when there are no challenges in the supply chain, issues were often seen as more of an inconvenience than a game changing affair.      With constrained demand, global supply chain fulfillment, trade ties between countries, and global conflict (and this is just to name a few of the supply chain factors that occurred in the timeframe of the pandemic), any union related issues and concerns were heightened.      The union trend is early in the post-pandemic era, but is worthwhile mentioning since the acceptance might be aligned to other factors that we have discussed in this book.

  Supply Chain

       The supply chain has proven to be very fragile. Driven by product shortages, worker shortages, military conflict, politics, and other global factors, the supply chain has had an impact on the post-pandemic economy.      For IT there is a direct impact on technology availability, which impacts further the ability to innovate. It is not IT solely that has the supply chain issues for technology. Manufacturing for automobiles, as an example, leverages technology in many aspects. Production lines and fulfillment are impacted. Oil and gas, retail, and other industries are all impacted by supply chain issues.      IT supply chain management is developing as an area of specialty within the IT community. Development of integrated toolsets and IT dashboards will be a key to effectively getting ahead of supply chain issues on a proactive manner.

     For IT, understanding the supply chain implications is critical to architecting the future directions for the end users.

  Contingent Labor

       Pre-pandemic there was what was referred to as the “Gig” economy. There was/is a generation of entrepreneurs who created new service models by providing new services and service delivery.      Certain individuals not desiring to work for an employer (per se) could elect to be an independent contractor. This model competes across all industries providing cost effective solutions which for the most part is driving and powered by technology specifically mobile applications      The Gig economy is only a part of the storyboard though on contingent labor. As downsizing occurs, and worker shortages continue, an alternative is increasing the level of non-FTE’s. The contractor labor force is a meaningful percentage in most businesses and is one of the more rapidly growing personas.      This contingent workforce is more easily dialed up and down based upon the current set of business practices.      One of the challenges with the contingent labor is determining the type of access end point devices are optimal. Businesses do not want to over subscribe technology, but do not want to create a downside by not providing enough access for the contractors to perform their work assignments.      This is not a new problem to be addressed, but one that has created issues internally as the business tries to embrace a

contingent workforce by leveraging similar entitlements compared to other FTE’s working in the department in similar jobs.      Organizationally, IT is only a part of the decision-making process. The hiring manager, or the line of business, may have the ultimate determination. IT over the years has been somewhat passive in the response to contingent workers. Part of the reasoning is that IT was not empowered, only an advisor.      In this post-pandemic era with the constant threat from cyberattacks, IT has begun to be more aggressive in positioning risk and exposure for the contingent labor technology footprint. Containerization seems to be a key part of the architecture providing access to only that content needed. The challenge is that most positions do not have such a roadmap that would be fully useful for that level of identification.      From a post-pandemic IT perspective, the growth of this installed base of non-FTE’s represents a challenge in architecting the next generation of IT infrastructure.

  Impact on IT

       The changes in the employee base is causing quite a churn. Some of these changes as noted are driven by the employees themselves, others are driven by market conditions and circumstances.      The factors covered in this chapter would seem to suggest that the pre-pandemic IT architecture and infrastructure may not be agile enough to be responsive to all of the changes which are occurring at such a rapid pace.

     The trend for optimization and modernization of the IT infrastructure should be considered as a part of the current budgeting cycle. If one looks at the current state, and what is being observed as the post-pandemic state, it is quite possible that the current IT infrastructure cannot effectively manage and deliver the next generation of IT services.      With that as a backdrop, IT must estimate the resources required to maintaining pace with the environment. Please note that this commentary is not about IT leadership, it is about staying current with the end users and where the technology is driving the organization.      As the percentage of contingent labor increases, IT must determine the more viable, secure, technologies to make the contingent labor most productive. At the end of the day, contingent labor is hired because of a business need. Like any other role in the business, IT needs to determine the optimal approach.      Historically, the challenge remains the hiring manager. Many hiring managers recruit and on-board the contingent labor without setting forth the IT strategy. Managers need to consider the implications which have morphed into security, manageability, and support issues - in other words, an IT issue to be addressed.



The Recovery

  T HERE IS ALWAYS A POINT during any significant event whether a natural disaster, a pandemic, an outbreak, or other disruptive event where teams begin to look forward about actions required at the end of that event. In a sense our point of view is to seek the end of that scenario and establish a new norm based upon a current status.      This does not suggest that the past is in a rear view mirror, rather it does suggest that human nature is to look forward at the future when the challenges and issues are less daunting.      In that sense, a recovery when looking at the pandemic, requires a lot of very forward thinking. The post-pandemic era will focus on IT initiatives that commenced before the pandemic occurred. The recovery from the pandemic, however, will be impacted by the overall state of the economy as well as the other trends that are occurring in the marketplace.      Perhaps the term “recovery” should be more specific. There are so many variables to consider, that for many the term recovery is a one-for-one relationship to a specific issue. For example, if we are indeed in a post-pandemic era, as we all hope and anticipate, then the recovery is very specific to health and wellbeing.      If the term recovery includes the economy, the workforce, the IT budget, the global economy, cyberattacks, and other issues that are required to be addressed, then recovery does not begin to define what businesses and IT need to address.      The recovery as it is defined will have more distractions and issues than we have previously viewed in other events.

     In Closed Loop Lifecycle almost every conversation begins with an operational definition. This is not a mistake. Operational definitions assure that those who are receiving information have the same starting points. Definition of problems is always the initial step.      If there is not an operational definition of the recovery, just how do we know what it is we are recovering from. Scope matters in this conversation. Scope creep can occur in solving problems so the definition is critical.      The pandemic and all of its implications and phases is a catalyst for many of the related issues and in most cases the source of acceleration. Addressing the pandemic goes a long way to addressing many other issues which may not seem related at the onset, but are inexorably linked.      Co-mingling agendas and issues may cloud the problems that we are trying to solve and simply add confusion. One of the key lessons learned during the course of the pandemic by IT specifically, is that it has impacted all of the IT infrastructure and all of the end users/employees.      At the time of the writing of this book, the post-pandemic holiday season (2023) is clearly in motion. The pandemic fatigue which has many persons limiting outside activities and travel is clearly waning. Travel and hospitality industries are rapidly recovering volumes of travelers and visitors. Certain consumer spending has reached pre-pandemic levels (and beyond).      At the same time, the levels of service are impacted by the pricing (inflation and other economic pressures), by the ability to deliver service levels (resources for all of the work to support the

industry), and by the expectations of end users (pre-pandemic experiences). This gap is important since this experience might impact future investments.      From an IT perspective, understanding the demand will align the workforce. If demand is less predictable, the gaps in delivery will be very visible to the consumers. As a result, the IT teams will feel the pressure building from the end user communities.      One of the themes in the post-pandemic era will likely be quite a range of volatility in the economy. The global marketplace is becoming the key influencers in many of the domestic results. The weekly fluctuations are discussed, reviewed, and talked about more on all media outlets with everyone having a point of view.      As a result of this level of highly technical communications, there will be continuing variables in the marketplace.      It should be noted that the post-pandemic era is unique. Technology has enabled quite a lot of dialog, which is a good thing, not a bad thing. The results though is often a case by case internalization by the market.      Just as The Great Recession, implications from a major game changing event may not be seen, recognized, or understood for many years after the event itself. The post-pandemic era is likely to fall into that category.



The Importance of Communications

  I NTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS IS A LOST art. Many businesses excel at external, customer facing communications, but lack the same discipline in the internal communications.      When businesses view changes, transitions, downsizing, retirement, reorganizations and other market adjustments, there is a “need to know basis.” Businesses have become experts in keeping information very compartmentalized. This level of oversight, however, can result in the potential loss of credibility in not being timelier on the sharing of information.      Businesses should have, and frankly many do, have a defined cadence on communications. These communications should be scheduled in advance and planned. A part of the overall messaging should be the IT strategy and investments that will be delivered.      End users continue to ask WIFM (“What’s In It for Me?”). Businesses need to anticipate this and plan the communications.      In the era of instant gratification, text messaging, rumor control (yes, it exists), and informal communications, having an internal cadence is critical. Given the market as it exists today, a quarterly cadence seems to be a “bit” light. In The Ready there is no such thing as over communication. End users particularly the newer generations in the workforce do consider themselves ITDM’s (IT Decision Makers).

     There is a general perception that the end users directly influence IT decisions and direction. To a high degree, communications with the ITDM’s will aid the business in implementing strategies and tactics.      One of the facts that the readers of this book and the author understands is that management and leadership dislike “surprises”. Surprises do not have to have a negative connotation; the surprise can actually be a positive. The operative thinking is to be predictable and meet established expectations. A surprise, regardless of intent, does not meet this threshold.      Trends in the industry should not be a surprise to management or leadership. Therefore, asking for budgets to innovate in certain elements that specifically impact the business are critical, not surprises. The trend to continue working from home, the need for more detailed remote collaboration, the need for proactive security, are examples of non-surprises that require some budget consideration.      Sometimes during budgeting cycle, when the business case for a project is not complete, there may not be a budget established. Even though the project proposal was not accepted, it should not be a surprise if after a short period of time there is a budget request.      Recognizing this as a trend, many businesses are now considering IT projects outside of the budget review cycles and require a separate process for inclusion. This is important since adoption of a trend is not specific to any calendar it is based upon need and a problem to be solved.      End users and lines of business are stakeholders. These constituencies are directly impacted by IT decisions and directions.

Sharing knowledge after the time that information becomes openly communicated will not build trust.      It is understood that for a wide variety of management decisions there are regulatory, legal, and common sense rationales on communications. However, if it is a “tie”, the decision to internally communicate should be a consideration, not an afterthought.      Often communications reflects values, and often core values. “Need to know” or “We did not think you would care” can send a chilling message to end users.      Communications do work both ways. There is a need for IT to communicate to the end user community, and likewise for that community to respond. One of the conclusions of Appropriate Incumbent is that - “often end users are as current as the last conversation they care to remember.”      In some sense this is the “selective” remembering that many teams have regarding certain business topics. As important as the outward communications are to the organization providing IT priorities, it is also incumbent on the end user community to provide their input and reactions. One cannot be an ITDM if that communication is a one way street.      It is important for IT that a forum be created not as a onetime only occurrence but an ongoing process for feedback. Previous iterations of this approach included focus groups and other end user groups. Some end users prefer not to be a member but rather provide input. Therefore, the feedback process needs to be assessed to determine the optimal techniques that can be used to obtain ITDM and other’s insights.

     One of the learnings over the years, both pre-pandemic and post-pandemic will be that the organization itself is perhaps not the best communicator in the business. Nothing is worse than having sales believe that they can market better than the marketing team; or marketing believing that they can sell better than sales professionals; or IT believing that they can communicate more effectively than a professional communications team.      It is likely that in the post-pandemic era we are entering a new role for the business, and perhaps IT itself, is a professional marcom (marketing and communications) role. This role will be the primary source of formal communications to the internal end users, exclusively focused on the end user experience and IT directions. In most organizations this will not be the same team that provides external communications, it is a different focus and skill.      In many organizations, in this post-pandemic IT era, a new role may report into the executive or director responsible for the end user experience.      In some cases, this role is merely an addition to an existing role in the organization. In that scenario the organization may miss the point. Why was that not part of that role responsibility before?      If the end user experience is a new discipline (which the author believes is the case) then a new role and responsibility should be created. This is the actual significance to the end user community that they have long sought - an advocate for their requirements and preferences. This new role, as defined, represents the communication, innovation, and the end user centricity that the communities have been waiting for in the past.

Its importance is highlighted if the position to represent the end users is new to the IT and internal organization.      This new role will be a key in end user self-enablement providing direction and the WIFM (What’s in it for me”) information. Another benefit is that the number of communicators to the end users are funneled so that only accurate, relevant, and timely information is provided. While there is never too much that can be communicated, it should be metered to be actionable and truly of interest.      The end user experience leader is the focal point for much, if not all, of the end user communications. To be clear, the end user experience leader is not a marketing position, end users do not need to be sold or marketed, they are looking for an IT practitioner to communicate and deliver the end user based priorities.      Everyone likes to think and believe that we are great communicators. We continue to tell ourselves that and some of us actually believe it. Communication, however, is highly personal. As an individual “I” do not get to make the determination that “I” am a good communicator, others get to make that call.      Effective communications is a discipline like many other interests. Talking is not communications. Communication means that there is a message to convey and it needs to be effectively delivered. Most do not think through all of the implications and how others might internalize the communication.      Communications for IT is a critical discipline. It is part technical, part business, and part financial. In other words, IT communications crosses many formal disciplines. Representing IT

as the communicator is a key function in the post-pandemic era and will be aligned to the end user experience focal point.      With all of the elements involved, the post-pandemic era will have a KPI based upon how well this function succeeds in the mission of establishing an end user baseline for support.



Certain Industries Will Lag

  T HE PANDEMIC DID NOT IMPACT all businesses the same. While all businesses were impacted, each business was impacted in unique ways. Size of the business, scope of the business, and the industry that the business participates in all play a significant role.      Because of this unique aspect, each industry must be viewed in the post-pandemic era through a different lens. Some will adapt quickly, which others will have fundamental adjustments to make realigning revenues and expenses. IT will be front and center in the post-pandemic conversations since doing more with less will require investment to arrive at an automated modern solution.      The context, however, is all of the trends and events that are simultaneously occurring. Briefly, and at a high level, this chapter will explore certain industries as examples representing potential post-pandemic IT strategies and the context that the IT organization will face in engaging in the process.      The following are industries that will be discussed as examples including:

  - Airlines - Hospitality - Health Care - Manufacturing - Retail - Financial Services - Insurance


       The airline industry has always had its own set of factors which impacts the profitability. The overall state of the economy, the cost of oil and gas, and consumer confidence, are among the key factors facing the airlines industry in the pre-pandemic era, and are amplified in the post-pandemic era. These factors were not significantly different for previous economic times for this industry which is always sensitive to outside factors.      The airline industry was an immediate impact of the pandemic.      From a business travel perspective, when the pandemic scaled, businesses did not travel, and this revenue stream literally ceased. At the same time, personal travel trickled to a halt. Airlines (and airports) were subject to mask mandates, vaccination requirements, and other regulatory issues. Globally, the restrictions were even more stringent.      Airlines were faced with reducing flights and consolidating schedule. Employee furloughs and layoffs became the commonplace.      The Federal government stepped in and provided relief in the form of loans and incentives to the airlines not to reduce staffs and to subsidize as required. These investments had rules associated with them about employees, layoffs, and other considerations about paying back loans. After those dates, many layoffs and furloughs continued.      In the post-pandemic era, the implications from those actions are visible to the communities. There is a pilot shortage, flight

attendant shortage among other key customer facing teams. Flight cancellations became more commonplace than before.      The airline industry is poised for a comeback with projections suggesting that in 2023 they may be profitable once again.      For IT what does all of this mean for the airline industry? In the post-pandemic era, let’s break this down into two areas - the back office and the airports.      The airlines back office is fundamentally not different than most other businesses. The leveraging of user segmentation/personas, automation, cloud based computing will continue to accelerate in the post-pandemic world. The airline industry in particular has concerns about cloud based technology in applications and infrastructure.      In the upcoming budgets, this specific issue of the cloud should be examined, studied, and planned to be a part of the next 5-year plan. If the determination is made not to embrace, that is a conscious not an unconscious decision.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has concluded - “there are no right or wrong answers only conscious and unconscious decisions”.      The decision to develop a comprehensive long term plan should be a conscious decision, not a decision deferred without review.      The airport represent a different perspective. The gate agents role at the airport has changed very little over time. With an increasing number of mobile applications and airport kiosks many of the typical questions and actions such as check in, boarding passes, and flight updates are automated.

     With more frequent cancellations and later fights, automation could be leveraged to improve the end user (customer) experience. The digital signage at the airport is often (and some would say far too often) out of sync with the mobile applications. This is a part of the in-airport experience which could be improved.      The “gate of the future” has long been a part of the conversation with airlines. It may be time to consider what this actually means and how it can be implemented. The postpandemic era with a return of personal and business travels may be an opportune time to plan for changes to improve this level of service.


       The hospitality industry was one of the first business segments impacted by the pandemic. For hotels, there was constant new branding, acquisitions, and consolidations. The pre-pandemic era saw a “mega-hotel” chain approach with branding driving strategies. Many hotels in this period, were being upgraded and modernized in appearance and amenities, while various brands were introduced.      The restaurant side of hospitality saw an influx of fewer chains and more locally owned and smaller entrepreneurs for establishments. The changing demographics reflected a change in menus, diets, and preferences for dining out.      During the pandemic, restaurants in particular were directly impacted. Many did not survive the challenges faced with quarantines, masking, mandates, and vaccinations, not to mention the customers concerns over transmission.

     While there were loans and financial support made available, the scope and timing did not work for all businesses. The number of chain locations which were declining in the pre-pandemic era, accelerated during the pandemic itself.      As we enter the endemic phase, and the post-pandemic era, the seeds that were planted in the course of the pandemic continue. Complicated by the lack of available workers, supply chain, and other factors, the hospitality sector may lag in the recovery, although the fundamentals seem to be returning despite the worker shortages.      As it turns out, in the hospitality restaurant and hotels industry, layoffs and furloughs were quite commonplace, and were implemented with little notice to the employees. Employees remember that and have been hesitant to re-sign with their previous employers, and perhaps even the industry.      Signing bonuses and incentives help to be sure, but there remains a hesitation. Combined with the turnover which is commonplace in these industries and in the changing demographics, the churn will likely continue.      In the post-pandemic era, hospitality has embraced more automation. Electronic keys, self-check in, mobile applications, have become a norm. Improved rewards and incentive programs are driving a loyalty strategy across all brands.      The role of the check-in agents relies more on applications and automation than ever before so the training and readiness is required more than ever, and turn over in that role is a situation that should be addressed.      IT is required to make sure that all applications are robust, modern, and secure. Training plans are required so that all

members of the hotel staff are ready.      For the restaurant segment, IT need to engage to reduce the manual processes such as order taking, communication with the kitchen staff, and servers. This is nothing more than an automated workflow.      For the dining experience, customers now have an expectation that manual processes produce more errors than the automated counter parts, and there is a desire to have a more automated experience, so little time is “wasted” on anything other than dining. (This includes the payment for the meal and beverages). “Paying for the bill does not enhance the dining experience.”      As the restaurant experience is clearly impacted by staff shortages, the local management needs to have a steady process for candidates and an IT plan to onboard new staff members quickly. Automation can reduce the impact of churn, to some degree.      The hospitality sector will always be sensitive to the economy, consumer confidence, and other outside factors. One of the key lessons learned from the pandemic is to mitigate what is already understood so that when and if uncertainty hits (and it will) technology can assist in mitigation of the impact.      In the pandemic much of this was simply not possible. In the post-pandemic era, it may be a necessity to plan.

  Health Care

  Health care was obviously impacted by the pandemic. We continue to thank and respect all of the health care front line workers. The

toll that the pandemic has taken will never be taken for granted, nor will the effort, commitment, and talent of the health care professional’s dedication to our

       One of the impacts during the pandemic itself was that many of the elective procedures were deferred and in many cases cancelled. For hospitals, clinics and practices this was a significant source of ongoing, and predictable, revenues and reimbursements.      Without this stream of income, health care is challenged in the post-pandemic era. In many cases, the results were mergers and acquisitions, and in the more dramatic instances going out of business or bankruptcies.      Exacerbated by the doctor and nurse shortages, job burnout, and other trends discussed in this book, healthcare will potentially lag in IT investments as other priorities are more critical to address in a timelier manner.      IT budgets are not reflecting significant investments for the most part and reflect a focus on the return to a more normal day-to-day environment.      It is important that IT prepare the plan for adoption of optimizing the IT infrastructure. For most, that suggests more automation of today’s more manual processes and leveraging the cloud.      Most of the health care EHR solutions are cloud enabled. Therefore, the first, initial, step for modernization has occurred for many health care organizations already.      The plan is the key. While health care may lag in adoption because of funding, the plan should be developed and approved with the budget requirements identified. In a volatile economy and

in the post-pandemic era, it would seem that the estimated investment requirements should be identified and formally submitted. This is for the full scope of optimization and modernization. If this is not done, then how does health care prepare for the next continuous process improvement?      In health care, any expenses saved in IT can be invested in the delivery of positive outcomes. The business plan complete with dollars and investments will include cost reductions, cost avoidance, and year-to-year Return on Investments. This is critical for the 2023/2024 budgets and beyond.      Without this focus, the potential implications is that the lag time will continue.      The lag time is not about funding only, it is about skills sets as well. Once the plan is created and approved (approved does not mean immediate implementation) then there is a case to identify the resources required. The resources are both the number and type of resources, but also the skill sets. Does the health care organization have the IT skill sets required for automation already on staff?      Health care needs to be highly engaged in a planning process to determine the efforts required in addressing the future IT architecture and environment.      One of the subtle areas that health care has impacted is interoperability. Past legislation encouraged and established laws and governance to assure that there is interoperability in all applications surrounding patient health care. This IT principle has proven itself in the medical outcomes of many patients.      Taking that same logic, Zero Trust build upon the architectural context of interoperability. All of the disparate third party

applications that have a niche in the overall health care of a patient can be integrated at some level. Blocking is not allowed.      The same logic, when applied to security, can provide a similar architectural approach. Zero Trust is in the empirical form at the time of this writing. The history in health care provides some level of optimism that the ultimate goals are attainable.


       Manufacturing is a foundational building block for the economy. In the pre-pandemic era, manufacturing was determining how to address the globalization that was the trend occurring over the past decade. Plans were being developed on techniques and strategies to mitigate global reliance.      In the midst of the pandemic, manufacturing, like all industries, focused on there here and now. Supply chain issues, product shortages, global supply for raw materials, are among the host of issues that manufacturing sector had to deal with on a day to day basis.      The pre-pandemic era for manufacturing was focused on the supply chain improvements and locations of manufacturing facilities. Legislation was proposed to incentivize US based manufacturing, particularly technology.      For most manufacturers, the pre-pandemic highlighted application readiness. If there would be a migration to the cloud, or with the requirement of application support such as new operating systems, or a retirement of key application development features, manufacturing faced a Tech Debt challenge.

     Legacy applications may no longer be as secure or functional in the new environment. For manufacturing in particular, the shop floor data collection, capacity planning software, MRP, and other specific manufacturing solutions were at risk of potential obsolescence. This could include CNC and other embedded machinery.      These are not inexpensive solutions. On the contrary, these represent core functionality and key processing solutions. Replacement is quite costly to say the least, and in many cases, there may, or may not be updated commercial applications available.      Further, legacy applications such as those being described are often heavily patched, updated, and changed with documentation that may not be as current as anticipated. In many cases, these solutions are walled off on their own network to avoid any comingling with other end users, organizations, or applications. From a security perspective, these older, legacy applications represent potential exposure.      In the post-pandemic era, the Tech Debt issues must be addressed. It may be perceived as too controversial to suggest that manufacturing is one breach away for an all hands on deck to address this Tech Debt. However, it should not take a security crisis to develop and define the strategy and plan.      Supply chain is a critical factor all manufacturers. If there is an issue in the manufacturing applications, the impact could be adding to the supply chain issues.      The budget will not be insignificant but at some point, the budget and Tech Debt for manufacturing must be addressed. It is

in the post-pandemic timeframe that this problem will need to be addressed.


       Retail in the pre-pandemic era was already significantly changing. The changes were rooted all the way back from The Great Recession from which many retailers never fully recovered. The trend away from brick and mortar, large malls, and large department stores was changing well before the pandemic. The rise of the strip malls has been in motion for quite some time.      Add to this, the demographic preferences for retail including mobility applications, online preferences, and aversion to large chains (to some degree at that time) all began to play in the prepandemic era. From as early as The Great Recession, many retailers continue to struggle with a meaningful on line presence.      IT budgets looked very much like previous retail budgets for many organizations as the investment dollars simply did not support entry into new business ventures such as online and the cloud.      Then, the pandemic. The pandemic accelerated most if not all of the previously existing motion. The lack of an online presence during the pandemic represented a “show stopper”, a “career limiting move”. During the pandemic a trip to a store, other purchasing other than for essentials was often a second thought.      In the post-pandemic era, retail will continue to change. There is already a somewhat nostalgic view of retail that is driving some back to more traditional venues, however, it is not clear whether

that trend will sustain over time. The trend for online based experiences clearly continues. The question is what will the expansion look like and how deep the relationship will go in the future.      It seems apparent that retail must embrace an online experience to be relevant in today’s marketplace.      For IT that suggests that investments, if not already in the budgeting process, will be required. Timing is critical. If retail waits, defers, or is otherwise distracted, the implications of being late to the marketplace is clear. Consumers will not wait; they are an impatient lot.      Historically, when retail has dollars to spend, it was spent on the stores, not the back office. As a result, retail internal infrastructure is often lagging in modern solutions and committed to legacy. The time to retire the retail Tech Debt is now because the implications can be a loss of the competitive edge, increase in security risk, and a decline in the end user experience. The customer experience is significantly intertwined with the internal end user experience, a fact which retail has now come to realize.      The overall economy relies on a robust, competitive retail environment. Retail must now focus on both the customer facing strategies and the internal end user strategy to be competitive in the post-pandemic era. It may not be enough to succeed in one and not the other.

  Financial Services


     The financial services sector covers a myriad of businesses within this sector. This particular section of this book focusses on the banking side of the equation. Financial services, like other businesses discussed in this chapter, has logically separated business units that are somewhat unqiue, but at the 80% level are often consistent.      The easiest separation to understand is the branch banking and the corporate functions, or operations. The back office operations for a bank, while there certainly are unique aspects, is not unlike other businesses’ back offices. The typical organizations and roles apply.      Similar to retail as an example, the bank’s back office will have many of the similar roles and functions in place. These roles are aligned favorably to user segmentation and personas. As a part of the budgeting process and investment, more modern solutions including automation, refresh cycles, reduction of manual processes, security, are examples of potential alignment to the cloud based operating model.      Given that banking is adapted to mobility where most of the applications are cloud based, it is not a “stretch” to envision the internally focused applications being cloud based in the next cycle, if not earlier. In the post-pandemic era, this is table stakes to optimize and address the cost model and end user experience.      Branch banking would benefit from the cloud in the ability to open and close facilities, on-board new employees, and respond to security issues quickly. From a backup and recovery perspective, the cloud clearly enables banking to take advantage of this technology from an operational basis.

     Branch banking in the pre-pandemic era consumerized the local branches focusing on the end user utility and convenience., In many cases, the branch resembled a café that “happens” to be a banking center. Large retailers also had some branch banking with the brick and motor for convenience.      ATM’s are ubiquitous in the field across all brands of banking. So, automation is well in place and were leveraged during the pandemic. Mobile applications pre-pandemic were widely adopted and were then available and used during the pandemic.      In this post-pandemic era, much of the previous investments by banking will be leveraged. The back offices likely represents the lagging portion to be modernized, and the path to be followed seems to align with the branch strategies.      Financial services, like many other industries this book discusses, has a number of line of business applications. Many of these applications are custom, heavily modified, and a challenge for updating. Tech Debt in financial services is a key initiative to assume that there is a solid baseline for security which legacy applications are often lacking.      Given the regulatory, legal, and personal privacy aspect to this sector, the Tech Debt should be viewed in the perspective of security and manageability. In the post-pandemic era, this represents a potential unreasonable risk to take.


       In the period of pre-pandemic, the insurance industry was well on the road for the online presence. The investment in promotion

and advertising led the industry to name recognition and considerable competition across the insurance sector. During the pandemic, the focus remained, and the competition continued.      In the post-pandemic era, the insurance industry will obviously continue the investment, promotion, and packaging of the online presence. There is also a subtle re-entry into a brick and mortar, albeit on a varied scale.      The back office, like so many other industries, is to be modernized, but for this particular segment of the marketplace, there has been an ongoing campaign even through the pandemic to retain a relatively current PC fleet, making the entry into modernization much easier.      Many of the selling processes are accomplished in a call center type of operation. Regardless of the service delivery model (insourced, outsourced, or out tasked), the call center leveraging of current technology is a key as well as a modern CRM system.      The hybrid model for the workplace remains a consideration and the modernization of the processes is a critical success factor governing turn over and new hires in the industry.      Where insurance may lag is in the back office arena when there are so many competing initiatives that will require capital investments and resources.

  Mergers and Acquisitions

       As the post-pandemic era commences, businesses will review and determine what is core to their business. This occurs constantly and is an ongoing process. At some point, each line of

business has a business case that they must deliver. IT plays a significant role in providing not only empirical data for the review, but for the support of the business units itself.      If there is a divestiture, as an example, the IT organization is impacted. Not only perhaps is IT impacted in headcount, but in the overall scope depending upon the business teams remaining and the business teams acquired.      The impact and levels of mergers and acquisition, by industry, is an important metric that IT should pay close attention to in the post-pandemic era. Some of the questions still to be answered include:

  - Is the level of mergers and acquisitions in the post-pandemic era significantly different than the pre-pandemic era? - Is the level of bankruptcies in the post-pandemic era significantly different than the Pre-pandemic era? - How do the fundamental merger and acquisitions during the post-pandemic era compare to other crisis and recoveries? - How does the post-pandemic levels compare to the ongoing business as usual models?

       These are the types of research and detail, by industry, that IT needs to truly understand to develop its plans in the future to advise the organization on focused improvements. While there will be an enormous amount of information available on the internet and third parties, IT should provide its own research as well to understand the particulars of its industry segment.

     Closed Loop Lifecycle has often stated - “whatever your opinion or point of view is, you will be able to find like perspectives on the internet.” For this reason, IT could consider a level of research driven by its mission and core values.



Company Culture

  C OMPANY CULTURE IS A PECULIAR thing. Closed Loop lifecycle Planning © has an interesting perspective - who gets to define company culture? As importantly, how is the company culture perceived?      The company culture is a significant part of the post-pandemic business environment, and specifically for the IT organizations. It is important to re-emphasize the focus on the end user experience if that is indeed the focus. Actions that drive to this outcome are important to communicate and would become a part of the company culture.      IT plays a very significant part of the company culture since it is one of the few aspects that is quite visible and most easily observed and understood. End users do recognize what impacts them directly.      Closed Loop lifecycle predicts (one of the few predictions) that there will be books and consulting gigs that are built around how to deliver an end user centric IT strategy. Much like the user segmentation and persona discussions, this will be the larger and more detailed architectural and cultural conversations. Communications, discussed in an earlier chapter, is an integral part of the company culture.      The reader will note that the term “company” culture not “corporate” culture is used in this writing. This is deliberate.      Regardless of size, scope, product or services, culture is an equalizer, a common denominator. Employees, customers, and end users recognize the company culture. Culture is not reserved only

for big corporations. Small and medium enterprises all have a company culture.      It is important to recognize this and not assume that employees and end users understand what the company culture is. If the culture, decision making, and communications are tightly held, it is not fair to assume that end users will understand any informal messaging.      For many organizations, the post-pandemic era is an opportunity to reset company culture. The pandemic changed everything. Company culture needs to adapt and change just as all of the other business practices.      Many businesses simply are assuming that the company culture is constant, that once set, changes only in a minor fashion. While that may be true, that does not suggest that that is the right direction or perspective.      The constituencies that define company culture are different than those who abide by that company culture. As The Great Resignation, worker shortages, perspectives on unionization, and employee turnover - all suggest a disconnect to company culture.      One of the premises of the Closed Loop Lifecycle research called Appropriate Incumbent is - “never overestimate the value of value.”      Company leaders typically define the values, and assume that most, if not everyone, will or should buy into the values and accept them. The alternative is to depart the employment and seek a company whose values might more optimally align. Well, that is in fact occurring. This is hard to measure and report on, except anecdotally of course, but it is happening.

     Many leaders simply assume that the value statement or company culture is accepted. Without getting into the personalities, or other more qualitative aspects, it is important for companies to examine pre-pandemic and post-pandemic employee experiences to determine if there is a potential dis-connect.      Company culture is very much like governance. Governance must be updated and relevant to the infrastructure and environment. The same may be true for company culture.



Meetings and Other Disruptions

  I N THE NEW HYBRID WORKFORCE, the management skill gap often results in many disruptions. In addition, end users have a new skill they need to develop in working from a home based environment. Let’s examine this in a pre-pandemic and postpandemic perspective.


       In the pre-pandemic era, there were already trends in motion that would impact the end users in terms of working remotely and in terms of flexibility in the work based models.      Certain roles such as sales, consulting, and other internal or externally customer facing roles within an organization were already in the pre-pandemic world generating output remotely. Home office is nothing new, and has been around for decades, with various use cases driving adoption.      Let’s explore the pre-pandemic view for both the managers, and the end users.


       Pre-pandemic management was seeking to refine the office of the future strategy with a focus on the new online aspect of consumerization combined with the changing end user preferences.

Many managers reflected on the line of site employees with a preference for in-facility colleagues. This was/is the comfort level.      Certain segments or personas were entitled to remote work, but certainly not all personas or end users.      Tools that have been used for quite a while were reviewed in this timeframe for adoption for cloud or virtualization but at this time it was not clear what the overall strategic direction would become. The IT budgets for 2019 and 2020 clearly resembled the previous year’s budgets by line items. The potential for modernization remained an unbudgeted item and under review for the future.      The existing management team remained skill set at the current levels with no game changing service delivery strategies yet defined and in place.      The legacy for IT was clearly established and at this period of time pre-pandemic, there was considerations for new cloud based solutions but the maturity and costs seemed prohibitive, and the skill sets for migration not currently on staff.      Then with the pandemic itself, it was all hands on deck, and future strategies were on hold as the IT and the businesses were challenged to continue the current support and changing support for the end users. The focus was to get the end users online and productive.      The pandemic was all consuming of the time, resources, skills available to the business and IT, with the priority being very focused.      It should be added that this was and is the right priority at that time in our history.


End User

       In the pre-pandemic world, the end user focus of the changing demographics and the desire for greater automation was beginning to resonate. End users become more vocal about the consumerization of IT with a constant comparison to the online experience and the gap between customer and end user.      User segmentation and personas in the pre-pandemic period was gaining traction and become mainstream as businesses and IT came to the realization that an end user centric IT infrastructure was the next “wave” to consider.      As businesses contemplated a more robust end user centric model, the pandemic took full force, and plans were deferred in most cases in order to address the reality of quarantines and the pandemic.


       The post-pandemic IT will continue to have disruptions and meetings. There is a difference in scheduled events that are in the normal course of business. Other events such as unscheduled meetings and other disruptions are out of cycle in many cases.      In the post-pandemic era, with hybrid work and remote work it is likely that many of the meetings and disruptions that occurred during the pandemic will continue. As managers are skilled to manage outcomes and work products, the situation may improve.      One of the consequences of returning to the office in a postpandemic era is the disruption, at least initially. The author

acknowledges having worked from home as a part of a large corporation for over 25 years, that when finding myself in an office environment, the social aspect kicked in and there was quite a lot of chatting and socializing. Many of the end users miss that level of interaction in an office.      This interaction is one of the premises that business leadership cites as a rationale to get employees to return to the workplace. Among the logic is that such interaction leads to more innovation, collaboration, and other positive outcomes including teamwork. Clearly there are definitive benefits.      One of the conclusions of the Closed Loop Lifecycle research on Appropriate Incumbent is - “do not confuse social behavior with business behavior.”


       There will likely be some improvement in disruptions as managers become more comfortable with remote work and work from home. That being said, an improvement is not solving the problem. In the post-pandemic managers will likely continue to “micro-manage” end users until such time as there are tools and metrics established that would improvement both the reporting and intrusion.      There is no substitute for training and skill development. In the post-pandemic era with all of the issues relating to attracting, recruiting and retaining workers, the management skills gap has become a critical success factor for businesses.

     One of the keys to effective training is that the persons being trained are in fact receptive to the topic. It is a challenge to train when the person being trained simply does not fully buy into the strategy. This may be the case with the manager training gaps as discussed in this book.      Remote work has been around for quite a while, it is not new. Developing managerial skills at this late date if the manager has had that responsibility already, may not be the most effective approach. If one has not learned that skill while being responsible for a remote team, what has changed to make the training more effective?      As important, how is the new effectiveness going to be measured? The post-pandemic workforce represents a challenge for management at many levels. Leadership needs to make sure that the best and brightest are on board. Leveraging new IT strategies in this area for managing remote work is fundamental to the assignment.

  End User

       In the post-pandemic era, end users can play a key role in addressing the number of meetings and the level of disruptions. Let’s focus on the business side of that equation first.      Managers will want a repeatable set of reporting for output. Rather than await the inevitable call from the manager, the end user should anticipate this and prepare the documentation. In many cases, the documentation is not excessive, but could be a

forecast, weekly activity report, or other actions taken by the home based end user.      Getting the reporting out ready in advance could shorten any calls and meetings by providing the manager the required output. In addition, this may have an impact on improving the manager’s comfort level with the overall relationship.      It is important to remember that when submitting information, to the best degree possible, it should be self-explanatory. If data provided requires an explanation, then the duration of the interaction will be longer. Closed Loop Lifecycle refers this phenomenon as – “yes, but...”      In other words, here is the information requested, and here is a verbal explanation. If a verbal explanation is required, it reinforces the need for micro-management. Over communication is to be considered.      From a personal perspective in working from home, or remotely, the post-pandemic era will require the end users to exhibit a higher standard of business practices. Establishing the home office, as a “quiet” location with minimal disruptions versus a more informal office area will be a key factor in getting the business more at ease with the hybrid model.      There will always be disruptions of a sort, that is the nature of home offices for everyone. But it is important to remember in the post-pandemic era, we had since 2019 and 2020 to get the home office situation optimal as it could be.



Buzzwords of the Future

  T O BE CLEAR, “BUZZWORD” IS not a complementary term. While perhaps a bit “snarky”, a “buzzword” is often used to represent a very complex issue or circumstance, with an “academic” sounding verbiage. By the way, “buzzwords” work. We know buzzwords work this by how many persons use the words and with frequency.      The idea is not to use the “buzzword”, but rather explain what one means by the “buzzword”. The “buzzword” by itself is not an operational definition. In this book we have used many of the “buzzwords” identified below. We have strived to provide an operational definition so we avoid the issues of assuming that there is more than a pontification.      The potential list of “buzzwords” include:

  - Transformation - Transition - Optimization - Cloud Based - Zero Trust - Consumerization - Modern Management

       Each of these “buzzwords” will be discussed in this chapter in the anticipation of de-mystifying the topic and related IT postpandemic challenges. It should be understood that “buzzwords”

come and go. In the future, there will most certainly be more “buzzwords”.      One of the keys in discussing “buzzwords” is understanding the problem that is being addressed or solved. One of the references is often that “X, the “buzzword”, is a solution looking for a problem to solve.” In the operational definition or commentary regarding a “buzzword”, the messaging needs to include precisely what problem is the “buzzword” addressing?      It is easy to overlook the obvious in thinking that the receiver of the information can relate it to a specific problem. The value of the “buzzword” is that in some ways it is so broad that it might not suggest a detailed explanation that might otherwise be required.      One of the terms that is often used in the new post-pandemic lexicon is - The author decided not to include the term as a “buzzword” since it is not associated with an action but rather defines a process.      Saying that IT is a journey or any of the “buzzwords” represent a journey while potentially descriptive is really leveraging an overused marketing term. IT is an outcome based discipline.      Like all vertical industries outcome based solutions require discipline, and that includes a timeline and deliverables. A journey implies a “never ending process” or implies a “long period of time to arrive at an outcome.”      IT has three elements that drive its practices according to Closed Loop Lifecycle - operational, tactical, and strategic. None of these represent a journey. I know we are spending time discussing the term “journey” but that is precisely the point to be made. IT

needs to market less, and deliver more. Catchy marketing packaging is perceived by the end users as just that - marketing.      With all of this positioning on the front end, let’s get into the conversation about the “buzzwords” in this post-pandemic IT era.


       Transformation suggests a large, complicated process. Further the “buzzword” suggests a significant impact and implication for an enterprise. Sometimes, transformation is preceded by an IT transition. In this case, this is where the problem being addressed needs to be a part of the operational definition.      Simply stated - transformation is strategic, not tactical.      Transformation without focus can be a continuous process improvement plan, suggesting important but scaled actions.      IT transformation represents leveraging a cloud first approach with ubiquitous access, high security, and remotely automated. Lifecycle practices are to be automated and governance rewritten and reviewed.      IT transformation addresses the problem of lifecycle practices that are several decades aged in delivery with moderate changes over the years. Workflows need to be re-architected and redesigned. IT transformation also addresses automating previously high touch processes and accelerates self-enablement by the end users based upon hybrid models and the emerging demographic changes.      IT transformation is the result of aggregation of many trends in the end user installed base and the cost imperatives to drive

investment dollars into a stream that can be more of an operating expense that capital intensive.      The scope of an IT transformation plan will always have a project/program manager and a program management office. IT transformation will always have executive sponsorship including IT, of course, but other executive stakeholders.      IT transformations are quite complex and occur over time, likely cross multiple calendar years and perhaps fiscal years. Because of the timeline, interim “wins” are less important than the ultimate completion of the project.      In a transformation, end users will likely want to understand the ultimate outcome and why it is being undertaken.


       Transition represents a change from a current state to some interim or future state. Most often, transition is a very focused to a specific lifecycle practice or IT operation. While transformation is strategic, transition is tactical.      Transition would focus, as an example, changing from a manual imaging process to an automated deployment model. The scope is more easily defined and the problem to be solved is specific to a certain process or workflow.      Transitions, because they are tactical and often focused on operations, may have a tight schedule or timeline associated with it. While the transition could last over time, ideally the tighter the timeline the shorter the transition, so the outcome is more rapidly delivered.

     The scope of a transition plan will always have a project manager associated with the delivery, but may not have a fully staffed program management office (PMO).      For efficiency purposes, like transformations, the transitions could have discrete sub-projects to deliver tangible results on an expedited manner. Projects are often more successful when there is a series of smaller, announced “wins” along the way. This is in lieu of waiting until the overall project is completed.      Transitions will have the IT executive, CIO, as its sponsored with the IT Director aligned for accountability.


       Optimization is operational, neither tactical nor strategic. Optimization is a continuous process improvement plan which would aggregate several elements into an overall plan for investment including resources.      The problems typically being addressed by optimization are cost reductions and an improvement in end user experience.      Optimization plans have a shorter duration than their tactical and strategic counterparts. Optimization may have a number of smaller projects that have their own definition and statement of work which overall aggregate into the overall optimization plan.      Optimization is the “buzzword” for continuous process improvement. Optimization suggests that cost can be reduced and the end user experience improved. Optimization is focused on the IT budget.

     Optimization plans will often have multiple project managers handling separate initiatives within the optimization plan. These projects overall likely report into the IT Director.

  Cloud Based

       The majority of new applications that are being designed are being a cloud first model. Cloud first is a “buzzword” that requires a set operational definition.      Cloud-first means that the application and access is exclusively delivered via the cloud. Whether public, private, or otherwise, the common denominator is the cloud. Cloud is the architecture for the applications.      Cloud-first should identify whether other alternatives are included in the operational definition. Are applications portable and downloaded to the drives on local devices, or are the applications access only. Cloud-first definition includes updates, both security and feature updates, and are driven by the cloud architecture.      In considering the cloud-first alternative, the service delivery strategy of how that solution is provided is a core fundamental decision. Insourcing, outsourcing, and out tasking (shared or hybrid) are all viable and mature. The operational definition for the cloud should include the service delivery alternative so there is no confusion about the solution.

  Zero Trust


     Security remains one of the top, and perhaps the top, priority in the post-pandemic era. The bad actors continue to morph and develop new vectors for cyberattacks.      Many of the existing counter measures reflect an after the fact response to a cyberattack. In many cases there is a lag time from recognition to resolution (and all points in between).      The operational definition of Zero Trust is an architecture that presumes that all sites and entry points for potential cyberattacks are not to be considered safe. In other words, not trusted. Leveraging an architectural approach and AI algorithms, Zero Trust provides more proactive and definitive security.      The initial architecture and framework has been established and documented, but remain precisely that - a framework. Zero Trust may well become a marketing term used to describe a proactive non-engagement strategy with sites and content before the end users engage.      The problem that Zero Trust addresses is the overall timing of counter measures and blocking bad actors from gaining access to devices and information that may be exposed though fewer comprehensive solutions that seek specific data and information profiles. Zero Trust simply assumes that all data is risky and provides forward looking counter measures in advance.


       End users consuming internal IT services have always wanted and have asked for internal IT to be similar, if not identical, to their experience as a customer of the online retailers and other

businesses. For a wide variety of reasons including the budget available to deliver this end user experience, the consumerization of IT as defined as the online experience internally delivered has been aspirational.      In the post-pandemic era with the various projects operational, tactical, and strategic - the realization of the more external consumer-like experience and interfaces are achievable, as a byproduct of adoption new strategies for IT.      As consumers, the experience is intuitive with easy to understand directions. Drop down menus and alternatives are clearly defined. End user interaction is identified in detail. Recognizing the need for “instant gratification” answers and response times are very timely and online.      Consumerization addresses the problem of manual input into the systems to arrive at the solution. Consumerization leverages data bases content (CRM) so that time is not wasted asking for data that is already collected and should be known.      As importantly, the application interfaces for consumerization are straightforward and clear in terms of forms driven content.      Consumerization represents to the end users internally a simplified interaction between the end user and IT, and the content that IT leverages. With the next generations of application stores, remote access, and support, leveraging a more consumerlike interface will provide the internal end users a comparable experience to the best in class online sites and experience.

  Modern Management


     The operational definition of modern management is an interesting one. Closed Loop Lifecycle defines modern management as the cloud-first, end user focused, automated solutions providing the end user access to applications, lifecycle management, and content in a consumer friendly manner.      The problem being addressed is the ease of use, a friendly intuitive interface, and instant access to information and answers.      Modern management is a culmination of several technologies that when aggregated and integrated delivers a best in class experience for the end user.      At the heart of modern management is a full set of data analytics, security, and manageability that provides a high level of support delivered in a very intuitive manner.



The Future as We “Know” It

  A NYONE WHO TELLS YOU THAT they know with a level of certainty what IT should be planning on in the post-pandemic era, it is likely time to find someone else to chat with. The postpandemic era will be fraught with uncertainly. IT needs to understand and anticipate the present state and The Ready State © as discussed in this book.      The next 5 years will be very dynamic both in positive and negative considerations.

  Potential Negative

       From the negative point of view (I know a half empty type of preamble), the following is a short list of considerations that could or will impact the future. One of the ways to view the negative factors is that these represent inhibitors to change.      Human nature being what it is suggests that poor experiences are remembered quite a while. I can still personally recall the last bad experience I had whether it was a meal while dining out, a poor retail experience, or other less than stellar experience. The point is a, poor experience often lasts a lot longer than a positive one in many cases.      Among these considerations are:

  - Cyberattacks - Economics

- IT Budget - Overall Uncertainty - Timing


       From the negative perspective; the cyberattacks and the attack vectors will only increase and become more diverse in their impact and implications. As new target vectors become clear, IT will be faced with the challenge of continuing to protect the information, privacy and security of the end users and the business.      Ransomware will continue to expand in its challenges. Certain industries are more vulnerable and have serious implications such as health care. The infrastructure exposure is another targeted sector that is vulnerable.      Developing counter measures and implementing them is a key strategy for the future. The risks will continue to be ongoing and will likely become even more commonplace.


       Economic uncertainty is almost a “given” in the post-pandemic world. The global economy as well as the US economy are now more interconnected than ever. Supply chains, shortages, geopolitical events, and trade agreements are examples of just how connected the economies have become.

     Economic corrections cannot be a standalone issue and are shared globally. Because of this the economics will somewhat always be a bit fragile and volatile.      The economy, however, should not be a gate for IT. Security is not dependent upon the economy, modernization is not dependent on the economy - the point is the economy is a consideration but not a driver of investing in IT. In many respects, the best time to invest in IT is in the time of economic uncertainty.      The economy will not impact, as another example, the impetus of the bad actors to cyberattack. Delaying IT investments due to the economy would actually “play” into an inappropriate narrative.

  IT Budget

       There will be a point of inflection regarding the IT budget in the post-pandemic era. Every successive budget period, IT is asked to do more with less (typically defined as staffing).      In order to meet the challenges in reducing costs, improving the end user experience, and maintaining security, the IT budget will need investment. This investment not only suggests funding but it needs to include the skill re-set for the new generation of all of the “buzzwords” discussed in this book.      The IT budget needs to get ahead, not lag behind, where the industry is heading. An analogy here may provide an appropriate context.      For years, and actually many years, just in time inventory (JIT) was a driving program and strategy to reduce costs (lowering inventory), improve inventory turns, and optimize logistics. JIT

represented the next big thing at the time for sourcing to improve the overall supply chain.      No one anticipated the issues in product shortages, global supply chain, or candidly, the impact of a global economic framework. While referred to as a “headwind” in many circles, the JIT strategy reached critical stage when all of the current events occurred.      No one in IT anticipated so many changes at once, but once identified and understood, at least to some degree, the requests for funding and support should follow. There was a very visible hesitation.      It is never a popular decision to ask for resources both funding and headcount when the business is challenged. However, that is what many leaders do - think ahead and anticipate what the business needs or will need.      IT budgets in the post-pandemic era need to be re-considered given all of the events and conditions we find ourselves. There remains the operational budget, the tactical budget, and the strategic budget. Together these three budget considerations aggregate to the overall IT budget.      Many businesses do not differentiate these types of budgets and simply have an IT budget then a supplementary or project based budget. In the post-pandemic era, the point be made is that the three budgets represent the next set of investments required and need to be recognized separately for future direction.

  Overall Uncertainty


     Not only do many businesses and end users dislike change, there is an equivalent dislike for surprises. Surprises suggest that whatever the issue is, we simply were not aware. In many, and perhaps most situations, that is the case. However, once an issue or challenge appears, if that is dismissed or ignored, then it is not uncertainty but rather an unwillingness to act.      IT is likely facing many issues in the post-pandemic era that will require forward thinking and in some cases anticipation. While there is no “crystal ball” or a “Magic Eight Ball” (yes, a Baby Boomer reference by the author), it is clear that this postpandemic era will continue to have problems in terms of scale, scope, and type of issues that have not yet been part of the business experience.      With so many of these challenges occurring simultaneously, it is almost another challenge to decide which ones to tackle first, or in what order. In some cases, all need to be addressed in a co-terminus manner.      The uncertainty itself is at least clear - we should be prepared. IT might consider counter measures, and standing governance meetings to plan and anticipate. Remember the idea of brainstorming is that no idea is out of line. This may be the type of out of band thinking that is required.


       Timing is yet another factor considered a negative in that it is always working against us. When an issue is identified, the time

to fix or the time to solve always has an investment and duration of time. Bad actors in cyberattacks count on that.      Other issues as they arise often have a somewhat immediate impact. As a result, time has already passed by the time IT can respond. This is the reactive role that IT must play.      The real question to be asked is - how can IT get ahead of issues instead of responding to the stimulus?      To this question there is not an easy answer. If the IT staff and budget were unlimited, this could be addressed, but that is not the reality.      Quite often the plan is the key. Many businesses rely on a plan, that once created becomes the focus of attention. In the post-pandemic era, the plan is very fluid and will require a constant re-validation and direction.

  Potential Positive

       It is often easier to focus on a negative than a positive. The future as we anticipate it in IT does have positive messaging moving forward as a part of the post-pandemic era.      Another way to view the positive factors in the post-pandemic era for IT is that these positive factors are enablers of change.      Among these positive factors include:

  - Technology - Data Analytics - Issues Identified - Recognition of Change

- No Surprises, No Excuses - Service Delivery Strategies - Shifting Demographics


       While technology itself is not always the answer or the sole answer to challenges, it is almost always a significant part of the solution. Technology often enables the innovation for IT and lifecycle management.      From a positive perspective, technology in the post-pandemic era reflects innovations the enable more secure remote access and security. This is critical for the developing hybrid model for the workplace. The technology will enable self-service models which will assist businesses in reducing support costs and align with expectations that comes with the new workforce demographics.      Collaboration technology have greatly matured during the pandemic. In the post-pandemic era, many of the investments made by the industry and adopted by IT and the businesses will provide the quantifiable benefits that were identified in the process.

  Data Analytics

       One of the positive developments that will provide value in the post-pandemic era is data driven decisions. Software technology is mature to provide deep insight into the end user experience and how the end user and their community leverages technology. From

access to system performance, data analytics now can detail elements that are crucial for improving metrics associated with IT experience.      Data analytics may change the manner in which end user satisfaction is measured and reported. Having real time information that is occurring is much better than assessing incidents, events, and issues that are possibly months or even approaching a year ago in occurrence.      With data analytics becoming mainstream, regardless of the size and scope of a business, the technology is affordable.      Data driven decisions takes away the qualitative approaches for decision making and arrives at a quantitative approach. IT in the post-pandemic era is likely to become driven by more detailed financial and business justifications in the request for funding and resources.      Having the availability of data analytics to make and support the business cases are table stakes in this new era.      In the post-pandemic era, the system analyst is one of the key resources in the IT organization given the role of planning and designing solutions.

  Issues Identified

       One of the learning that comes from being a part of a challenging time, is that there are lessons learned and issues that can be identified that previously might have a) not previously existed or b) existed but were “hidden” by other factors.

     Addressing legacy issues is always a challenge in every organization. In the pre-pandemic and during the pandemic itself, the issues that needed to be addressed to execute the requirements driven by these events became well known and understood.      Whether it was remote support models, new security vectors, or the ability to provide technology on demand, IT is uniquely in a position in the post-pandemic era to have deeper knowledge and understanding of value and benefits of strategies which before these events were theoretical or based upon a set of assumptions.      Being able to identify obstacles before they actually inhibit motion is a huge benefit in avoiding cost and risk.

  Recognition of Change

       The post-pandemic era will be an era of change. We often refer to an organization as agile, flexible, or other adjectives that describes an action oriented perspective.      While Closed Loop Lifecycle concluded that - “change by its very nature is unsettling”, it does suggest that the recognition that change is occurring or will occur is something that has become in the post pandemic era - predictable.      Recognition that there is change being contemplated or that change is occurring, is a “big deal”.      Change will always be somewhat disruption since it challenges a norm, but change can also be a positive in enabling new ideas and new relationships organizationally.

     “A business cannot depart from legacy without change” another Closed Loop Lifecycle conclusion.

  No Surprises, No Excuses

       Management always dislikes surprises as do end users. In previous chapters we discussed that all constituencies whether buyer, seller, consumer, end user, leader, manager, contractors - all say the same thing - no surprises.      In the pre-pandemic and during the pandemic itself, there were constant surprises. It is no wonder that information fatigue set in. All constituencies in the post-pandemic era seek stability and consistency. The challenge now is to innovate and change without surprising everyone.      The key if of course communications, which during the pandemic had both its good and bad examples. In the postpandemic era, IT has the opportunity to recast the operating principles of building the IT infrastructure around the end user experience. Key message - you cannot build around the end user unless they are aware of it and provide input and acknowledgement.      As an adjunct to the no surprises messaging, there is a no excuse messaging as well. We can no longer say “oops, we did not know ….” The key question today in the post-pandemic era is - “you should have known” or “you should have learned”.      End users, the industry, and even the public at large are less “forgiving” for mistakes, assumptions, and decisions that are not

based upon facts or data which supports a specific direction. A few examples might more fully illustrate that point of view      After 3+ years of enduring the pandemic, with the pre-pandemic experience of remote and home based work, how can anyone in the business not know, understand, or have information answering the question of whether or not the work from home model was successful?      If not driven by data, everything is anecdotal and depending upon your position in an organization, you will have a point of view. If the point of view suggests a return to the office, or continuation of remote work, and all combinations thereof, there must be an underlying set of facts and figures to support the perspectives.      The days of “because I said so” is so 1970’s. Think of the challenges in recruiting, attracting, and retaining top talent, think of The Great Resignation, think employee turnover - these examples provide a backdrop which suggests that opinion and excuses for not having data to drive behavior is an excuse.      When the supply chain issues first occurred and become a year to year occurrence, it was no longer a surprise. So, not having a plan to deal with it may be considered an excuse. Excuses are in response to a surprise, and not a business justification.      Markets reward predictability and markets respond to excuses. Employees in the post-pandemic era will reflect the mood of the market.      This is actually a positive implication since the behavior that is driven is a data driven, metric driven, decision making process. This should not mean to imply that this process is the approach for all decisions and leaders. However, what this does suggest is

that after years of the pandemic, there are now more “eyes” on the decisions made by businesses.

  Service Delivery Strategies

       The post-pandemic has provided a glimpse into the new service delivery strategies that while they have been around for quite a while, may now become a mainstream first level consideration. This is a positive development since in the post-pandemic era, the IT budget, skill sets, and availability will be a factor in delivering important projects.      The contractor persona (or contingent labor) continues to increase based upon engagements delivered. The “gig economy” seems to be moving forward in the post-pandemic era. From an IT perspective, how non-FTE’s will be addressed for access, security and support will continue to develop as time moves forward.      The as a service model will likely be led by applications as a service and cloud as a service. When one thinks about it, that is actually the foundation for the overall as a service model. The services led model has been discussed and has been delivered for years, but the cloud has enabled and accelerated the initiative.      The question of insourcing, outsourcing, and out tasking (including hybrid or shared approaches)are not new, but will very likely gain traction since the decision to become cloud base overcomes a number of objections frequently positioned to remain in the current state.


Shifting Demographics

       In the post-pandemic era, the shifting demographics (the workforce is getting younger) will of course continue. The shift will be accelerating as retirements, layoffs, downsizing, and early retirement strategies are considered by both businesses and the end users.      As the demographics shifts, the changes driven by adopting technology which is more familiar and comfortable to the incoming workforce will likely be facilitated. Along with the facilitation will be investments to improve the IT infrastructure from a device centric focus to an end user, cloud-first basis.      The changing demographics will further highlight the training gaps discussed in this book and will require serious attention.      IT will find that the communication process will need to be more frequent and content oriented. End users will resist IT marketing, but will embrace IT if there is an understanding of WIFM (recall - What’s In IT for Me”).      The communication vehicles must be the traditional but new ideas of communications should be explored, with a request of the end users inquiring what are their preferred options. If we learned from the past, it is that retention and attention is captured in short bursts for communications. Otherwise, end users will ignore the content and messaging since it may be lost in “spin”.



New Concepts

  A S THE NEXT ERA OF IT occurs, there are a number of new developing concepts that will be introduced.

  - Priority Based Budgeting - New Roles - Table Stake Ownership - New Approaches for Customer Satisfaction

       These new concepts are based upon experience in the field engagements and research identifying trends that are in development and consideration by businesses. These are not the only concepts in motion but may be representative of what the next era in IT will be considering.

  Priority Based Budgeting

       IT budgeting has always been a challenge. Every year it seems that IT is asked to deliver more with less. It is not unusual to view the annual IT budget as a year to year 5% to 10% reduction. IT is asked to automate processes and optimize (there’s that word again) the IT infrastructure to reduce the cost to deliver.      Priority Based Budget focuses on the concept that there are three tiers associated with budgeting which is not unlike the manner that IT itself is focused. There is an operational budget, a

tactical budget, and a strategic budget. The overall framework is the Priority Based Budget, that is the overall umbrella.      It is important to provide operational definitions for each of the elements. Priority Base Budgeting may well become a separate discipline within the overall budgeting process.      Each of the three tiers - operational, tactical, and strategic must be developed separately then integrated under a single architecture, framework, and budget. The skill sets and expertise to develop the approach requires a very holistic approach to IT.

  Operational Budget

       The Operational Budget is the funding for BAU (business as usual). This portion of the IT budget is the “care and feeding” to support current and existing functions. It is assumed in this budget segment that this is an all in approach to include the existing deliverables and service levels.      The operational budget requires a resource who fully understands the financial underpinning on how work is performed, and the cost of the resources (direct and indirect) to support the end users.

  Tactical Budget

       The Tactical Budget is the portion of the IT budget which represents any continuous process improvement that can provide in the day-to-day support of the end users and IT infrastructure.

The Tactical Budget represents the incremental investment and funding required to deliver the continuous process improvement.      One of the key elements of the Tactical Budget is that benefits accrue in the same year as the funding.      The funding includes of course any dollar investment, but also any resources required to create, architect, and deliver the solutions defined in the Tactical Budget.      As the Tactical Budget is identified, consideration should be given to a focus on having the deliverables executed and implemented within the budget year itself. Not to cross over budget years, and budgeting cycles for the Tactical Budget is part of the governance that aligns the potential improvements to the year implemented.      This supports the accounting practice of alignment of revenues and expenses in the same timeframe. From a practical perspective, the Tactical Budget provides a very visible and easy to consider cost/benefit review with the return on investment delivered in the same period as the funding.      The tactical budget may leverage the project based approach discussed in previous chapters where the optimization occurs. The trends in the marketplace such as automating previously heavily manual processes are examples of the tactical budget.      The key resource for this development of the budget must be current on the IT trends and available alternatives. Understanding existing entitlements is a must in order to reduce spending.      Subject matter expertise on multiple disciplines such as security, manageability, cloud based, applications, end point devices are examples of how well informed the tactical budget leader needs to be for development of the continuous process improvement plan.

     The tactical focal point works very closely with the current delivery team in assuring that the baseline of what is being delivered and how it is being delivered is well defined. Not having this alignment could create that feared “apples to oranges” comparison.      It could be argued that the same resources should be leveraged for both the operational and tactical budgeting reviews. From a cynical point of view, that is not desirable if it in fact can be avoided. The logic is that if there is not a well-documented, financially driven and existing continuous process improvement plan at the time, what would one think of asking the organization responsible for improvement to develop one now?      The answer lies in the fact that the expertise is on the current state, not the future state. The subject matter expertise is required to ensure delivery of current state deliverables - end users and IT count on the resources to do that in a best in class manner. The continuous process improvement may not be an existing requisite skill set or the assignment may simply not allows time to address any other issues or planning.

  Strategic Budget

       When the budget crosses fiscal or calendar years, it is regarded as a Strategic Budget. The Strategic Budget reflects that the implementation and the benefits occur over a period of time. The Strategic Budget is a part of course, of the overall budget, but is separated so that there can be a cost/benefit statement in the correct time period.

     In some cases, the expenses will be incurred in the current budgeting cycle (Tactical Budget) and the benefits in the follows year(s). In this scenario, the cash flow and return on investments are an integral part of the budget packaging.      The Priority Based Budgeting will have these three elements identified and separated for reviews and approvals. Once approved, these elements are aggregated into the overall annual budgeting process.      It is incumbent upon IT to no longer request funding and resources, but to provide a very detailed financial and economic perspective relating to the impact. Both hard and soft dollars are a part of the dialog, however, in a volatile economy, hard dollar impact (direct reduction of expense and capital) are preferred and often a pre-requisite to the soft (indirect) benefits.      In Priority Based Budgeting there is a very positive message to be identified. The improvements that can be generated as a result of all of the potential areas and elements, in the upcoming budget cycles will position IT not as a cost center only, but as a contributor to the margin improvement of the business if the categories are financially based and operationally driven.      The migration to the cloud in whatever form it will take is clearly one of the key initiatives to be undertaken in the strategic budget. there is a level of course of technical expertise, but also a key understanding of what the industry, particularly the industry that the business is in, is moving towards directionally.      Understanding the full application stack is another critical skill set to be understood in the strategic creation of the budget for the future state. All of the current state and the continuous

process improvement plans need to be a part of the packaging of the strategic budgeting process.      The impact on policy, process, procedure and governance is also a critical part of the strategic budgeting process. The implications for the end user communities are included in the scope of this assignment.      The business plan for the strategic budget will be quite complex. Risks and inhibitors must be identified. The key in the post-pandemic era is for budgeting to anticipate the changes in the marketplace and the trends which must be addressed to remain competitive and cost effective.

  New Roles

       In the post-pandemic era, there will be new roles in the organization that are occurring even as this book is being written. In the pre-pandemic era we have seen several new roles develop in enterprises that are critical to the overall success and messaging of the organization.      Many in the industry are reminded that the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) role was created as a mid-1990 creation. The role was an acknowledgement of the risks and exposure that exists from bad actors in the industry. In the interceding years, the CISO is a standard role in most organizations. From a business perspective, the role is relatively new and the responsibilities have greatly expanded.      Pre-pandemic there was also a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) created at many organizations. A product of the 2020’s the Chief

Sustainability Officer is now becoming mainstream. Part of the rationale is not only being environmentally aware and compliant, but also from a global citizenship governance. Creating and implementing the sustainability strategy, issuing the reporting on the status and progress, and innovating in that process is part of that emerging role.      The workforce changing demographics is also a driving force in sustainability. Millennials and GenZ in many quarters have clearly articulated that sustainability is a core value and it is anticipated that their employer will be a leader in the discipline.      During the pandemic itself a new role - End User Experience Executive was created. This new senior leadership role is positioned so that the end user experience, long discussed, now has a single point of contact and accountability. The mantra is that a business cannot build and architect an end user centric model without a sponsoring executive to lead the discipline.      All three of these new positions - CISO, CSO, and End User Experience Executive - go by several different titles in the organization. All of these positions are influential in the overall wellness of the business and are important in the overall budgeting process for the organizations.      The key takeaways in this chapter’s discussion about the new roles is that we are entering a unique era where there will be new roles specifically created for specific problems, issues, and challenges. This specialization will lead not only to new roles for leaders, but also for a staff and team to deliver outcomes not contemplated by previous organization models.      Issues such as supply chain may be an example of the next net new organizational discipline to be created in this era.

     For some time, businesses have been very siloed in many of the lifecycle and business practices. Many of the silos have very specific subject matter expertise.      The post-pandemic era now co-mingles many of the previously separated disciplines and there is a level of integration that may be lacking in having the various business teams align optimally.      In the post-pandemic era real estate, human resources, facilities, IT, accounting, security represent examples where the disciplines seriously cross over into the other disciplines. While the team work is always required in all businesses, there is an inflection point where the cross over represents a new paradigm, and perhaps a review of the organizational model.      For years, the industry has “joked” that “kumbaya” is not an IT strategy. IT resides in a rigid world driven by governance, regulations, rules, and structure. There must always be leadership in the IT model for planning and delivery.      In the post-pandemic era the level of integration, sharing of goals, collaboration, and resources may ultimately result in new positions or more likely a consolidation of existing positions. Specialization remains important, but at some point there needs to be a common baseline for the team. In short, it may be considered that fewer silos in the post-pandemic era is preferable.

  Table Stake Ownership

       Previous governance regarding application ownership called for business units to be responsible for the ongoing care for the applications required by their department or organization. The

logic in this ownership model was that the business requirements were best understood by the departments themselves. The departments represent the subject matter experts in their particular industry.      What the industries have seen is that the original application owner(s) is no longer in that role, and perhaps no longer with the business itself. Application ownership was only about the application decision, and likely not about the ongoing updates, budget, features, and so forth.      As a result the documentation for applications became very fragmented and highly patched based upon addressing specific issues as they might occur. Application ownership applies both to third party applications and to local, homegrown applications.      With the market changing and subject matter experts originally involved were removed from the process due to reassignment, retirement, or other scenarios, there has been a greater reliance on IT.      As a result, there is new thinking about application ownership. Like security, management tools, asset management, and other disciplines the industry is seeing more and more increasing centralization of business practices. The logic is to optimize (there is that word again) the IT portfolio across the installed base.      Table Stake Ownership reflects the change in governance - the business remains the stakeholder, but the budget and resources to provide ongoing support, maintenance, security, and address Tech Debt is the responsibility of IT. This represents the trend in further centralizing IT and applications.      With the cloud-first and increased automation, the business units need to focus on the content and applications required to

deliver outcomes. IT’s role is to enable execution on a timely manner.      The business units works with IT to create the budget so that there are no gaps. There would be full responsibility accounting (charge backs) for the specific deliverables and support requirements.      The business units will perceive a “loss of control” and perhaps autonomy. The positioning and communication is key this is merely the next level of inter-company collaboration. Otherwise, there is no cost counter measures to be had, and the end user experience will remain stagnant.

  New Approaches for Customer Satisfaction

       How customer (end users) satisfaction is measured and reported will be changing in the post-pandemic era.      Traditional methods of assessing end user satisfaction will likely remain such as the annual surveys, help desk feedback, and other legacy approaches. The challenge is what do those legacy approaches really tell the business.      The challenge with several legacy approaches are identified in this section.      The first area to be considered is the annual satisfaction survey. Businesses (and IT) have traditionally been asking end users their opinions for quite a while, literally decades. In many instances, the same questions are used. The end user responses, always anonymously submitted, are reviewed, compiled, and action plans created for feedback and improvement.

     There are several issues associated with the traditional time synched surveys. These issues include:

  - Time Lag - Snap Shot - Specificity - Response Rates - Reporting Out

  Time Lag

       If an annual survey is used or even if there is a periodic survey review, there is a time lag between an event or incident that required support, and the end user experiences. Surveys tend to be either very generic or very tactical.      If generic, it is a challenge to draw any particular action since the time that something occurred is in the past. If there was a perception that support could be better, and the survey is well over 6 months old to a year in its aging, then the opportunity may be passed.

  Snap Shot

       It is important to understand that a survey is a snapshot in time. That time may or may not be relevant at the time of the survey itself, or the business response. As a snap shot, it is important not to over scope what the questions actually address or measure.

     Snap shots are both good and bad in terms of interpretation. A snap shot provides a meaningful picture of a specific incident at a particular moment in time. The observations and conclusions from that snap shot can be extrapolated, but the risk is that over thinking the observations could lead to an erroneous conclusion.


       If the scope of the questions are too vague, then the survey is of little value; similarly, if the survey is scoped too tight, it cannot be extrapolated for more meaningful interpretation.      This is one of the basic challenges with the survey process, that is not specific to a particular problem to be addressed. Generic issues are always a challenge to address. If there is not a degree of specifics, then what problem is there to be addressed.

  Response Rates

       Response rates are just another one of the limiting factors in a survey process. Survey response rates are quite variable and is quite dependent upon a number of factors. Interestingly, while most, if not all, surveys are blind (anonymous) there are techniques and very subtle ways of influence.      Encouragement to respond by immediate managers, supervisors, leaders or other influencers suggests that they are at least aware of response rates at various times in the process. This does suggest insight into the process. Further, if the response rates are

within a certain span of control, meaning the segments of the organization, that too could be an influencing behavior.

  Reporting Out

       The reporting out of surveys is initially changed by the lag time discussed earlier. If the all of the factors discussed are aggregated into an overall set of observations that are then presented and discussed with employees and staff, the survey becomes a report card of sorts.      Since it is based on a historical frame of reference - the past the conclusions could be quite mixed. During the pandemic and now in a post-pandemic era, this was/is a unique time in our history. Management responses were driven by different metrics, motivations and direction. If the same approach to surveys were used, and it is likely that they were, the overall point is likely to be mixed.      The real question during this period is how the overall organization response to the crisis, and what would employees prefer to see in the future.

  A New Approach to End User Satisfaction

       Data driven decisions are often used by IT as a key for improvement of multiple challenges. The objectives are focused internally and mostly on IT itself. This is sort of a report card on self-grading.

     As it turns out, predictive and proactive insights when executed and openly communicated perhaps are the best indicator of end user satisfaction. However, these statistics and information are rarely, if at all, communicated to the end users or the end user community.      It turns out that these sets of information are somewhat like “a need to know” and evidently end users do not need to know this. This is a significant gap in improving the end user experience.      Avoiding a help desk call, avoiding downtime, implementing updates remotely, and patching during off hours are clear examples of what the IT organization is delivering to improve the end user experience. However, if the end user is not aware of this, then it has no value to them.      WIFM (remember, What’s In It for Me) is important. If IT is delivering support that is invisible to the end user then it cannot add value. The analogy is – “if a tree falls in the forest” (okay, you get it).      It is likely concerned that the end users may have a “big brother is watching” concern. However, if there is a clear benefit statement, it is not clear that there would be concerns at all.      If system performance is improved and technology refresh is driving by data, then the end user community will certainly have a rise in satisfaction.      IT may consider a dashboard at the appropriate levels in the organization that clearly identifies the actions and information leveraged by IT to improve the end user experience. This dashboard would very much be at the same levels where the traditional customer satisfaction surveys would be pursued.

     Another benefit is that this further demonstrates that IT represents a pocket of best practice where IT anticipates requirements without burdening the end users with actions.

  A New Perspective on Help Desk/Service Desk

       The help desk/service desk statistics has always been a key indicator of end user satisfaction. You want to see if the end user is pleased, determine how often they call for assistance and how successful the organization was in addressing that.      Help desk statics are often provided on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly periods of time and compare for years and trends.      This is another vector that can provide end users information that IT is providing and how that information is leveraged to be captured as a part of continuous process improvement. Again, a relevant summary dashboard is required but has a communication vehicle, it reflects the real time reality of the end user and areas that will drive satisfaction.

  Consumer Confidence Index

       The consumer confidence index is an approach leveraged by many countries, including the US, to provide insight into the sentiments of customers, and potential customers, in the economy. The intent is very simply, the more confidence people have in the economy, the more they will buy goods and services.      In many, perhaps most, of the internal end user satisfaction surveys provided by the business to secure input on IT, the

questions and conclusions surround the services provided. Again, this is somewhat of a postdated survey on what was provided, not what could be provided.      Lacking in the process is the asking of a specific question to the end users of IT services and the potential users of IT services - “do you have confidence in IT’s ability to provide support?”      The above question is really important; as budgets are approved and innovations occur, is the end user community on board with the IT team’s ability to arrive some new destination?      Consumer confidence is a fundamental building block to assure that the consumers (customers) are on board. Many countries have “votes of confidence or no confidence” as well. These are part of the different form of government. The rationale in mentioning this approach here is that if one is going to measure end user satisfaction confidence is at the core.      End users are a “fickle lot”. In this book we discuss WIFM (What’s in it for me?”) and its “cousin” - “What have you done for me lately?” The point is that end users, like consumers, do not want to relitigate the past (okay, we do to a high degree), but we also want to consider the future. While the past is always indicative of the future, if you ask how IT is doing, what doesn’t the question of confidence ever show up?      The reasons are likely several fold, and perhaps more complex than this brief chapter can detail. Remembering an old adage “do not ask the question, if you do not want the answer”.      Leveraging this very direct type of inquiry does not need to be as draconian as it might appear. The key is asking the question and understanding the perspective of the end users.

     Unlike the political implications for governments, the IT operation is not subject to a recall or termination; the intent is to garner feedback so the team can improve its strategies, deliverables, and end user experience.      Subject matter experts will determine how best to ask, research, and respond to this more definitive type of approach. To be clear, end users do need to have confidence in the IT leadership. This is particularly true in the post-pandemic era where the practice levels of IT may mean the difference of retaining or losing top talent.      End user confidence could be the next generation of IT types of surveys in the post-pandemic era where strategic directions must be assessed and resources identified.      Beyond IT effectiveness, the survey could provide leadership an indication of the expectations of end users. Such results, assuming that the findings are quite positive, could be leveraged as a recruitment vehicle.

  Observations and Conclusions

       In the post-pandemic era as data analytics become even more affordable and mainstream, the information could become a key to the improvement of end user satisfaction. Creation of the end user dashboards and how this information is communicated to the end user is the key.      Millennials and GenZ consider themselves ITDM’s (IT Decision Makers and Influencers). In that context, providing more

information so that the investment that the organization is making on their behalf would be well received.      This is aligned well with the role that Appropriate Incumbent plays in business. “Investments are perceived as commitments” according to Closed Loop Lifecycle Data analytics represent an interesting crossover relationship in the post pandemic era ahead.      Leveraging the same metrics and approaches to address the end user satisfaction and the effectiveness of IT seems to be part of the legacy of IT. Much of what IT is delivering in the postpandemic era did not exist a mere 5 years ago. If the technology did exist, it was not scaled to the degree that is during the post pandemic era.      New ways to capture and report on the end user experience will be key to the process. The next generation of end users will desire to see very specific responses, and not generalities, in the surveys and checklists that are a part of the evaluation.      Human Resource (HR) has figured this out long ago when beyond the employees local and direct managers were solely responsibility for the performance evaluations. By asking for input and rating from non-direct reports, managers are able more effectively view an employee more holistically and better understand how others perceive their performance.      Surveys should accomplish the same result. Many do not because the scope and the questions simply do not invite the confidence questions as a part of the survey itself.      The pre-pandemic era had many ways for the customers of business to provide feedback on a wide range of topic. Using “likes”, emojis, and other easy to reply and submit mechanisms,

businesses secured meaningful feedback. Perhaps it is time for IT to consider the similar processes.



Skill Sets of the Future

  A S THE POST-PANDEMIC ERA COMMENCES and businesses consider the next steps in their IT maturity, it is clear that there will be new skill sets required. The existing workforce is very likely at the advanced practice level. For IT this suggests that for client lifecycle management, as the example, the IT organization has expertly delivered the bill of material required to support the end users.      It is important to remember that one of the reasons that the maturity level is advanced is that businesses have been delivering client lifecycle management and data centers much in the same way for the last few decades.      From an IT perspective, we have likely eliminated much of the costs from this model since we have had so many years to optimize the processes and workflows.      Now, the industry is facing change. The post-pandemic era driven by the cloud and automation will require re-skilling of much of the IT subject matter experts. At the same time, it is critical to retain those experts as the change occurs towards new service delivery strategies. This will require a lot of finesse by the business, IT, and the IT workforce.

  The Business


     In the planning process, businesses need to make decisions whether or not there will be an embrace of the new trends and service delivery alternatives. To be clear, these are not simple decisions, but these are decisions that need to be made, and will require budgets, resources, and a firm commitment. If the process is to move forward, the decision must be accompanied by a plan which includes a timeline.      As important, as the plan is to be considered, it is equally important to understand and frame the changes which will be required that are the consequences of implementing the plan. Again, the timing is critical considerations.      There will be both inhibitors such as regulatory, budgets, and resources. However, adoption should be based upon business critical such as:

  - Is adoption a part of remaining competitive? - What is the motion in our market sectors? - What are our competitors doing? - What are the implications if we do not adopt? - What are the implications if we defer? - Can we afford the adoption? - Can the organization culture and process absorb the change required?

       These are among the business questions to be considered and actually require a full determination not a practical decision.      One of the conclusions of Closed Loop Lifecycle is that “there are no right or wrong answers, only conscious and unconscious decisions.”

     The decisions must be conscious so that the implications and impact can be anticipated and measured for the business.      Deferring without understanding the implications is not a decision, it is a reaction.


       IT has a different, albeit complimentary, set of decisions that need to be made and understood. The business will likely require IT to weigh in on all of the potential factors of adopting the post-pandemic strategies. This will include timing and phases.      IT must examine its workforce and skill set to ascertain the talent pool and if the requisite skill sets reside in the workforce today. Once that assessment is completed, IT and the business needs to determine the priority of the need for newer skill sets.      Once the priority and timing is determined, then the next step is to determine if the existing staff can be retrained and over what period of time. Retraining is preference since in many scenarios, one of the keys to effectiveness is the familiarity with the existing IT infrastructure and the organization.      The cost to retrain is often considered less than hiring a net new hires (and reassigning existing staff). A new employee will likely take some time, perhaps up to 6 months or greater, to become fully immersed and productive in a new IT operation in an organization.      As an employee in IT, being an expert in older technologies and solutions might not be the most marketable of skills, so being trained by your existing employer represents an investment

in you. This investment is a solid strategy to build loyalty in an era of high turnover and churn in the business.      Nothing can be worse, than being very competent on old (or older) technology that has become a commodity level. The retraining reflects a desire by incumbent employees to improve their skills and marketability internally.      It is important to remember that re-skilling employees also makes them more marketable outside of the organization, so the commitment for training should become a two-way relationship.      If a new hire is required, then the focus is likely on new, developing skills that are critical for IT to engage. Aside from the obvious costs to onboard new personnel, there are a number of not so hidden costs to be addressed.      For IT, the more important aspect is getting the new hire to become a part of the team understanding the assignment, company culture, and establish relationships. This aspect of hiring takes time. It is expected that the new hire is technically competent for the assignment that was required, so the reminder is preparing for the actual work to commence.

  The IT Workforce

       There is yet a third alternative for IT staffing - contingent labor. Contingent labor goes by several names including contractors, gig workers, staff augmentation, among others. Within IT there are several and perhaps all types of contingent labor with each having a unqiue requirement relating to why they are needed by the business.

     For this chapter, we will continue the focus on the contingent labor or contingent workers who bring certain skill sets to the IT organization. There are all sorts of key skills that are necessary for IT to perform and deliver services and support.      Among those services include:

  - Traditional, legacy services - Automating of lifecycle management - Emerging portfolios

       Now, let’s explore each of these in a bit more detail.

  Traditional, Legacy Services

       Businesses have been delivering IT services since the beginning of IT, so it is a fair assumption that resources are needed to deliver the existing or legacy solutions. It is important not to minimize the importance of executing of the legacy since the end user experience, productivity, security and other key factors are driven by this execution.      As mentioned earlier, many and perhaps most businesses are in the high competency mode in legacy delivery. It would be an error to minimize the importance of flawless execution of the existing portfolio.      What many businesses have discovered, the IT FTE staff is also in a high competency mode. Everyone wants to be promoted and promotable, however, becoming an expert is legacy may not be the most attractive skill in the industry. Several businesses

leverage contingent labor for delivery of legacy, while re-skilling the existing workforce for the next generation of technologies.      Legacy is often well documented with policy, process, and procedures, and there is likely governance documented as well. For the most part, legacy lends itself to a service level agreement (SLA) which is the deliverable for contingent labor. Instead of performing the actual delivery themselves, IT now manages the SLA execution in this model.      In the post-pandemic era, it is likely that this model will gain more traction as the labor pool becomes more challenging to manage.      Typically this model is focused on delivering to the SLA and not focused on continuous process improvement, or changes in how these services could be delivered. The responsibility for that type of change would remain in IT.

  Automating of Lifecycle Management

       In the post-pandemic era, we will see more and more automation as The Ready becomes more entrenched in the service delivery strategies.      As a result, there will be a change in the “high touch” often very manual, with some base level of automation, to a purer automated approach for lifecycle management.      The bill-of-material created by Closed Loop Lifecycle provides insight into the elements that can be more easily automated than others. As the cloud first enablement is adopted, automation will

follow since most of the modern tools will have an alternative (preference) to be cloud based.      The lifecycle bill-of-material is summarized below. The lifecycle elements are identified in suites - the commodity suite, the value suite, and the economic suite. Contingent labor can and does play a role in each of the suites.      In some cases the contingent labor is driven by availability of resources, availability of skill sets, or by service delivery alternatives themselves. The Closed Loop Lifecycle suites are as follows. This is not an all-inclusive portfolio; this is a summary to provide context for the contingent labor narrative.      Commodity Suite

  - Acquisition of hardware - Acquisition of software - Staging and integration (imaging) - Deployment

- Warranty and Maintenance

       Value Suite

  - Help desk or service desk - Management tools - Security - Networking - Asset management for hardware and software - Sustainability - Project management

       Economic Suite

  - Disposition - Technology refresh - Total cost of ownership, cost reduction, cost avoidance - Return on investment

       As the reader can see, there is a case to be made in each of the suites where contingent labor can play a key role.      As these various lifecycle elements become more automated, jobs will change meaning that skill sets required will change.      Part of retaining talent will be the level of investment that businesses are willing to spend on the employee training, certifications, and re-skilling. The levels of net new automation will drive a significant part of the investment.

  Emerging Portfolios

       The emerging portfolios, meaning new technologies for both hardware and software, will dominate the post-pandemic era over time. What that timeframe is will be dependent on many of the factors discussed in this book, but it will be a variety of factors, not only a single driver.      When the job market for IT is viewed, there are roles that are becoming more visible, and actually align with many curricula that colleges, universities, technical schools, and other academic institutions are delivering or preparing to deliver. Third parties

have developed certification programs for disciplines that enhance the skill sets and marketability of IT professions.      Such disciplines might seem traditional, but the focus is on new and developing software, cloud and virtual delivery, web enabled experience, AI and blended realities, and other leading edge disciplines. Among the new roles being re-defined for automation and re-skilling include:

  - Software developers - Cloud content creators - Solution architects - Systems analysts - Systems designers - Security leads - Project and program managers - Actuarial, demographic experts - CRM expertise, data analytics - System planning, requirements analysts

       This is but a brief list that suggests that the re-skilling will be an ongoing process for IT and the business. Hiring a contingent labor resource can be a permanent, or a stop gap measure, to fill the skills gap of the required automation requirements.


       You cannot have a discussion about new skill sets without reflecting on the management. In the chapter about the

management training gap, we addressed several of the gaps that impacts effective management.      It does take time and experience to become a manager in most organizations, including IT. Managing people and outcomes is not something that academia can teach with immediate impact without experience.      Experience does not equal age. This is important to understand as the changing workplace demographics continue to accelerate in the post-pandemic era. As the demographics change, the management demographic will of course follow.      It is quite possible that the next generation of managers, closer to the Millennials, will leverage their perspective on IT, and influence more of the end user centric model which has eluded IT for so long. Having managers who experienced the end user centric model as a customer of online businesses, social media, and in their academic careers throughout K-12, high school and potentially college, there will be a unique perspective in experience.      This will be a process greatly influenced by passing time, but will undoubtedly be a factor by the timeframe where businesses seek the next generation of managers.



Service Delivery Strategies

  H OW IT SERVICES ARE DELIVERED in the post-pandemic era will be a key consideration for many businesses. Once decisions are contemplated and determined about how to fill the gaps based upon skill sets and availability, then the service delivery strategy comes into play. It is not an error that the service delivery chapter immediately follows the contingent labor discussions.      In a sense, all of the factors converge into the business decision regarding how IT services will be delivered in the postpandemic era. After the surveying of the IT marketplace and the direction of the future IT deliverables, businesses can then make a determination of how these services can be delivered.

  Creating a Base Line

       The first step in the post-pandemic era in terms of IT is to fully understand the cost of the current IT deliverables. This is not as simple as it may sound. Many businesses do not have a fully loaded cost (even at a per seat or end user level) for the client computing IT costs.      For some that do have such a figure, it is often not clear precisely what is included, and not included in the cost structure.      The lack of a current baseline creates challenges when exploring alternative service delivery strategies. Particularly in the pandemic era, if the costs are not known, then to what baseline are any

costs to deliver to be compared? This creates the issue of not having a valid comparison. If a solution “claims” to be less costly than another, the question is - less than what cost? IT must create a valid fully loaded cost baseline.      Creating a baseline is not easy. If it were, then every business would already know its cost to deliver. There are some costs that the business and IT do know, and most of those are direct costs like labor, warehousing, tools, and such. However, many businesses aggregate costs to the point where over the years there is simply an IT allocation.      Over the years, IT as an allocation has resulted in the perception that IT unlike other business functions and operations is a cost center only requiring every line of business to “pick up” it cost as a part of overhead.      It is IT as overhead which has led many businesses down the path to minimize the impact that IT has to the organization and impeded innovations.      In the post-pandemic era there is a clear opportunity to address this perception and change the way IT is budgeted and if allocated, done by a consumption or usage basis. Chargebacks for IT has had mixed reviews over the years, but in the postpandemic era with all of the investments in collaboration, hybrid model, automation among other considerations, IT needs to be reconsidered in how the costs are to be addressed.      In the post-pandemic with new hybrid models, security tools, and focus on the end user experience would suggest that there is a need to reset what the cost baseline has become. Leveraging a previous allocation or assumptions might not relate to the new reality of IT.

  Delivery Strategies

       In the post-pandemic era, it is most likely in the opinion of Closed Loop Lifecycle that IT strategies will become more hybrid, meaning both in house and out tasked. Applications residing in the cloud are fundamentally outsourced in the sense that they are hosted remotely and by a third party. This assumes a more public cloud. Since most of the new software is cloud first, this is an important consideration.      Many of the management tools and security tools will also be cloud-first focused. Because of this aspect, this represents a further level of outsourcing to a third party as well. Included in this type of conversation, therefore, is disaster recovery. The cloud data will be an instrumental part of any future disaster recovery strategy.      With those assumptions set as a foundation, the next topic is the labor pool and the skill sets. It is assumed for all of the reasons discussed in this and other chapters that in the postpandemic era, the labor pool will also be somewhat of a hybrid scenario. The make-up of a business’s workforce will be dependent on many factors including the corporate culture.      The other considerations presented in this chapter include:

  - The availability of resources across all skill sets - The availability of certain skills in the workforce and the availability of those resources - The IT budget and the planning process

- IT adoption of new strategies such as the cloud, virtualization, modern management - The IT budget to support a certain level of headcount - The project budgets aligned to change

       All of these factors taken together will impact a business’s strategic and tactical directions for the long term. The perspective is that while much of the decision making will be a very conscious decision, the implications may well be an unconscious decision that may be difficult to change once the direction is established.      One observation seems to be noticeably clear - the hybrid model will be a key driver in the post-pandemic era and that decisions will be made in the context of the planning process.

  Services Led Strategies

       The “as a service” model discussed in this book, is a well proven existing service delivery strategy. In the post-pandemic era, it is likely that this particular service delivery strategy will scale considerably from the pre-pandemic (and earlier period) of time.      The logic behind this assumption is that with cloud adoption the first step is already taken which suggests that the subsequent steps will be a much easier decision and conversation to have with the business.      We may enter a period of time where the skill set sought in IT is the skill to manage service levels rather than the skill to actually deliver the service itself by internal IT staff. This is a

fundamental change when scoped. When thinking about the post pandemic era, there is a parallel in purchasing and sourcing.      Because of circumstances in the supply chains, purchasing needed to become expert at managing supply chain impacts that had implications for the cost of goods sold.      While there are certain fundamentals that can indeed be taught, it is the real world experience that creates true subject matter experts.      Taking this same logic to service led engagements, the parallel is that unless one is experienced in managing an indirect workforce to deliver IT services on a large scale under unique circumstances, it should not be assumed that the business as usual model will be successful.      In this context, how IT engages a third party driven (services led) continuous process improvement plan built around the end user centric model is a critical success factor.      IT is not static, it never was. However, the pace of change and the scope of change has forever altered both internal and external approaches. In this respect the services led engagements may have the added benefit of previous experience delivering changes across a wide range of businesses and industries.



Buying Habits Have Changed - IT Impact

  O NE OF THE INESCAPABLE OBSERVATIONS from the pandemic era is that consumers buying habits may have changed. The word may is not used in error, it is used since it is not clear where the baseline will be reset as consumers respond to the post pandemic fatigue. Some of the questions include:

  - Will consumers return to pre-pandemic strategies and levels to acquire goods and services? - Will consumers return to previous spending levels given the economic impact and implications? - Will consumers continue the pre-pandemic preferences exhibited? - Do the changing demographics impact the post-pandemic buying habits?

       Questions such as these are key to creating and developing the IT infrastructure plan and implementing the programs necessary.      One of the foundational questions is – “did the pandemic alter any of the timing for the IT infrastructure?”      Some of the timing and impetus for change is based upon how consumers acquire products, goods, and services. The IT infrastructure must be optimized to support how the customers want to acquire. The internal end users of those businesses need to support, train, and be prepared to electronically support the customers.

     With the changing landscape in literally all market sectors, the IT team is clearly impacted by the dynamic of how to meet and exceed customer expectations. It can reasonably be assumed at this point that the customer preference at a minimum will be an omnichannel approach which suggests for IT there needs to be an internal strategy for each alternative.      The security and manageability solutions in place must now address an online, in sourced, and out tasked environment. The IT staff needs to be organized in manner that aligns with how transactions are conducted.      As important, the internal IT teams must have a similar real world experience that permits a reasonable expectation of what their customers experience is like so that there can be real empathy in designing and delivering support.      In the post-pandemic era, the gap between how customers consume information and IT from a business should be aligned internally with how that business provides the same experience to their end users.      Perhaps one of the significant challenges facing IT today is how to best organize to address this omnichannel approach. In essence, customers have decided that regardless of the circumstances, online (aka the cloud) will be and continue to be a primary access for acquisition. This will likely drive the IT infrasturure to the cloud as well so that two different infrastructures does not need to be created separately.      One of the questions to be asked is if there an economy of scale if the cloud is used for both external and internal support? Businesses need to consider this approach and proposition as one of the key decisions in the post-pandemic era. Should IT reflect

the same trends as can be seen in its customer base, and in so doing align the internal end user experience?      This is a perfect example of the consumerization of IT with the end users (customers) driving the end users (internally). This has been talked about for some time with no real driving influence identified that could be measured and assessed. Now, in the postpandemic era, there is enough empirical data to arrive at some conclusions.      Over time, internal IT has lost the perspective that the IT end users are consumers also and understand the gap that existed. Regardless of the market segment, the gap is clear to the internal IT end users. With the churn in the workforce, employees have choices regarding who they will work for and for how long. The IT infrastructure can and does play a significant role in that decision.      There will be a not too distant point in time where internal and external IT may become synonymous and less distinguishable. The same interfaces in terms of look and feel, similar counter measures, similar leveraging of analytics, and perhaps even a sharing of skill sets and staffing may well be the organizational model of the future.      One of the learnings from the pandemic era is that the hybrid, home based end users, require a definitive set of service levels and have expectations that must be met. This is not unlike the customers. The closer aligned the approaches can become, the less separation may exist between internally and externally facing IT strategies.

     One of the inhibitors has always been to invest heavily to attract, retain, and expand the customer base while investing less in the end users simply due to budget implications. There has always been a separation of this kind since after all we do know that the cost to gain new customers far exceeds the costs of retaining and upselling new customers.      Now the similar logic can be leveraged to attract, retain, and recruit new IT talent. With the parallel in logic, the investment models will likely become synergistic. Today, the two models are completely separated. It is quite possible that internally there might not even be a sharing of the research that has been leveraged to create the foundation for customer retention with the internal team attempting to do the same with IT.      It may be useful in the post-pandemic era to think about internal IT with the benefits often offered such as stock options, employee stock purchase programs, retirement savings, and others as loyalty programs and benefits. Insurance and heath care are benefits which in many scenarios are entitlements.      Outside of entitlements are programs that businesses create internally to establish company loyalty, just like the customer loyalty programs. Perhaps this packaging and content in the postpandemic era has a niche in the internal IT strategies.



Behavior Driven IT

  T HIS BOOK INTRODUCES THE CONCEPT of Behavior Driven IT. The post-pandemic IT organization will be important to maintain innovation at an appropriate, affordable, and a non-disruptive pace.      One of the lessons learned in the pre-pandemic era was that the investments made at that time such as collaboration and mobility served the business and IT very well during the pandemic. Part of the reason for that success was that the trends were highly publicized, acknowledged, and available.      In the post-pandemic era there needs to be an ongoing and more formal initiative to commit to constantly analyzing the trends of the industry, end users, and specific disciplines such as security. The Behavior Driven IT strategy needs to be holistic.      Holistic in this case means that without borders. Businesses have towers often referred to as silos that compartmentalize several business practices and technologies. Behavior Driven IT represents the aggregation and single point of contact for adoption.      The operational definition of Behavior Driven IT as defined by Closed Loop Lifecycle is:

  “the identification of meaningful trends in IT and the overall industry, then applying technologies to meet the end user expectations to build the IT infrastructure surrounding the end user.”


     The Behavior Driven IT will require integration by IT into the research side of the business beyond IT to understand what is leveraged for CRM and data sets, as an example. Further, there is a dependency on understanding at a detail level what emerging trends are. From a technology perspective, no one wants to be on the “bleeding edge” but adopt when value is added to the organization.      As a discipline there needs to be a framework to drive the Behavior Driven IT methodology. For the methodology, the following in bulleted format is the bill-of-material to consider. Each of these elements will be discussed in this chapter. These elements include:

  - Current State Status - Current Projects in Motion - Current Research Identifying Trends in the Marketplace - The Ready Commitments - The Vision Over Planning Horizon - How to Deliver - Creating Measurable Metrics

       The key is to balance the expectations to the emerging trends with the technology. Many organizations talk about the future and the future state. Basing the future plans for IT depends on recognizing the optimal end user experience so that all that IT and the business builds is leveraged with little if any wasted effort.      It should be noted here that at any point in time there will always be new trends that are identified and new alternatives that

present themselves. These are the fundamentals of innovation. The IT infrastructure needs to be built in a manner that enables, not inhibits future innovations.      Behavior Driven IT is a program by the earlier operational definition in this book. As a discipline many businesses are often doing elements of this approach defined in the methodology, but in a non-integrated, non-visioned manner.      Behavior Driven IT is the culmination of what we learned as an industry to leverage in the post-pandemic era.      Behavior Driven IT is also about assuring that when end users do not comply to the ascribed behavior, there is a consequence. We discuss this in detail in our chapter about disposition (and end user return) of assets such as laptops.      For Behavior Driven IT to work effectively, the governance model must be mature and the consequences of non-adherence defined. This is not to suggest any draconian approach, but simply to say that if behavior is to be the key to architecting an end user centric IT plan, then the underpinnings and foundation need to be built upon solid governance.

  Current State Status

       It is important to fully understand the starting point for Behavior Driven IT. The following are the types of questions to consider. Of course, much of the data for the installed base and technologies being leveraged are already known and understood. This methodology would use that information but seeks observations regarding why the current state is what it is. Think

about the current state by asking the question of why is the current state where it is?      Based upon that premise, here are examples of the types of questions that Behavior Driven IT would be asking.

  - In the spirit of best practices, where is the business in its business and IT maturity?

- What are the tiers of service levels that are provided by IT? - How is the hybrid environment architected? - When was the last time the governance model was fully reviewed? - Is there a focal point in IT to engage, study, and research trends in IT and the market?

  Current Projects in Motion

       For Behavior Driven IT there is an importance to understanding the current portfolio of projects that are funded and in motion. The questions to be considered are the drivers of these projects. Examples of the types of questions to be asked include:

  - What problems are these projects going to solve? - What are the benefits to the end users for the projects (WIFM, again)? - How are the benefits being communicated to the end users? - What is the timeline for completion and what will be the impact and how will it be measured?

- Is there any behavioral changes that need to occur as a result of the project?

  Current Research Identifying Trends in the Marketplace

       While at some level (Pareto’s Law, the 80% rule) many industries share a set of common challenges. However, it is fair to say that every business within an industry is unique. At a business level, the practice and maturity level is one of the differentiators.      Other considerations are the industry itself. What is the competition doing to address end user behaviors and how are they determining that dynamic. As importantly, IT needs to be conducting their own research. Quite often in many organizations, there is a marketing function that provides corporate research. For the most part, however, marketing is not familiar or expert enough at the end of the day to determine what is and is not critical to IT.      The proof point for this is very simple. How many of the marketing team has any technical, IT, or infrastructure certifications. In essence we are asking that team to provide a filter on the trends and factors that IT should be considering.      The market research should be shared of course, and there is a clear need for cross training, however, IT does need to have a level of self-efficiency. The reliance on others to identify trends may be one of the reasons that increasing incremental IT budget has historically been a challenge - we have deferred to others to build the business cases.

     In Behavior Driven IT here is a brief list of research topics:

  - Is there a focal point in IT for end user IT research? - Is the focal point in a liaison relationship with marketing? - Do projects and research focus on IT and adoption? - Is there an IT research portfolio with projects identified? - Is the budget of IT projects co-mingled with other projects?

  The Ready State© Commitments

       The Ready identifies the here and now requirements based upon circumstances like the pandemic. In the post-pandemic era, do many of the deliverables, architecture, and service levels continue?      The following is a list of The Ready types of questions that should be a part of the Behavior Driven IT:

  - What were the new service levels developed and delivered during the pandemic, and will those service levels continue? - To what degree was automation leveraged during the pandemic to deliver the new service levels? - Was the value and benefits quantified and business case created for The Ready If not, can a post-pandemic business case be created? - Is there a pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic view for contrast and comparison purposes? - What behavioral changes resulted as a result of The Ready


     One of the potential observations in The Ready is where IT has been outstanding is the overall lack of promoting both the agility and the economics of the initiative. It is always a balance not to overdo self-promotion, it is quite a negative thing to do if not measured correctly.      However, not to advise management and the end user community of the impact of IT is also a significant miss. Selfpromoting does not mean that IT should not communicate the outstanding delivery of a solution and the economic impact of the direction.      In a career, there are very few opportunities where it can be demonstrated a long lasted positive impact. The Ready represents that opportunity. It is not too late for IT to consider this approach particularly in light of the future investments required for adoption.

  The Vision Over Planning Horizon

       As the post-pandemic era is reviewed, it is important to determine the planning horizon to be considered. For most businesses, there is a very accurate year to year IT budget that once cast can only be altered by supplementary processes or projects.      If project budgets for the next year are not included in the IT budget before it is approved, that should send a “red flag” in terms of timing. Projects should not be a surprise in the year that a new budget is approved.

     The planning horizon is summarized by Closed Loop Lifecycle as:

  - Operational 1 to 2 years - Tactical 3 to 4 years - Strategic 5 years and beyond

       In each of these planning horizons the research for end user behavior should be a part of the overall process to include the current end user centric requirements.

  How to Deliver

       In each year of the budget, the end user behaviors should be captured so that significant changes can be identified and understood.      One of the fundamental questions is – “how do we deliver Behavior Driven IT strategy?”      The answer to the question direct - an unrelenting focus on the end user experience, ongoing IT research for trends, detailed communications (WIFM), specific expectations, quantification of benefits, and a focal point to tie all of the data together.      To the degree that there is data analytics to be assessed, that simply builds upon the baseline described above.      The service delivery strategy for Behavior Driven IT should include the research to determine the roles the end user can play and wants to play in IT. For years IT has been “pushing” selfenablement to a non-receptive audience. In the post-pandemic era

the hybrid work and return to the office has altered behaviors. At the same time, automation has aligned to newer models.      From a Behavior Driven IT strategy has the end user community changed its behavior to enable innovation. As importantly, has this approach even been discussed internally to IT and the end user community?

  Creating Measurable Metrics

       Behavior Driven IT is not just a passing idea, it is linked to IT budgets, projects, user segmentation, cost imperatives, and strategic direction.      Creating metrics and having an assigned focal point to address information is a critical part of the methodology.      By identifying the behaviors then providing an analytical manner to quantify the impact, Behavior Driven IT can become a game changing approach should the business and IT decide to seriously focus on the end user experience creating an IT discipline to drive such a strategic direction.

  Behavior Driven IT as a Program

       In this book, we have provided operational definitions of projects and programs, with programs identified as strategic and encompassing potentially several projects. With this operational definition, it is likely and desirable that Behavior Driven IT become an IT Program.

     It is understood that with the changing demographics the labor force will go from its current 5 generations in the workforce to perhaps 6 generations with a very different mix of ages and demographics. Demographics is not just about the age, it is about the environment, economics, and conditions that each generation experienced.      It is well understood that the Millennials and GenZ workforce are the most technically oriented workforce ever having grown up at all levels with technologies. One can only anticipate the level of technical competencies the next generation Alphas who are just beginning to enter the workforce will be bringing to their jobs.      The challenge in Behavior Driven IT is to leverage all of that experience and translate it into motivation to have the business and IT adopt practices that can change behaviors to benefits the end user experience and the business.      Changing behavior will be a challenge requiring a host of new skills to be developed by IT and the business. The benefits, however, can be seriously game changing.      An example can illustrate this point. For the help desk or service desk the highest volume of calls is almost always password reset. It is normally the top one of two highest volume of calls. The cost of a password reset call is about the same as any other help desk/service desk call.      Most businesses and IT organizations have password reset software, websites, and self-enablement tools, many of these are very sophisticated and end user friendly. These solutions have been available for quite some time, years in fact. It also should be pointed out that the business continues to pay for these solutions.

     End users are also consumers. As consumers we always change our own passwords and reset with frequency, it is not a learning issue, it is behavioral. The business and IT have not ascertained how to change end user behavior in this area. As a result, disruption continues, cost is incurred, and potential lapses in security.      As new security counter measures are available such as facial recognition, fingerprint readers, multi-level authentication perhaps the password reset focus will diminish. But the data tells the story with the consistent year-to-year call volumes.      Among the objections that end users provide for the lack of adoption include:

  - “I am too busy (and thereby important, author’s input) to take the time to reset my own password.” - “I do not want to do IT’s work.” - “The IT tool is not user friendly; I have no training.” - “IT and the help desk still offer agent support for password reset, so why would I take on this work?” - “There is no consequence for my not using the automated tool.”

       One of the most frequent critiques from end users is “downtime”. “Downtime” is the enemy. Not being able to perform basic work is an obvious and visible issue for end users. Missed deadlines, increased stress levels, and disruptions are all part of the downtime conversation.      It might be interesting for IT in the spirit of changing behavior provided a brief side by side comparison of the time to reset

passwords and get back to work from a help desk incident to a self-reset perspective. It is assumed that the self-enablement would be faster and less disruptive. But saying that does not make that true. That is why meaningful data should be a part of Behavior Driven IT.      Most help desks do not communicate back to the end user just how many calls are received and about what topics. It can be argued that this level of detail itself is too costly. Internally to IT, there is insight through most help desk solutions of the top calls and the departments, end users or other roles that leverage support for certain problems encountered. Part of the Behavior Driven IT is to deeply analyze and assess these calls.      All help desk software provides the data to review all of the topics related to the end user support. Many of these reports are online and provide daily, weekly, month, quarterly, and annual perspectives.      Comparing week to week, quarter to quarter or even year to year, the IT organization can identify the trends that are occurring.      For the most part, the call volume mix and the top ten calls have changed very little over the years - IT has not been able to change end user behavior. At the same time, It is under constant pressure to reduce costs.      One of the ways to reduce costs and address the cost imperatives is to focus on cost increasing behaviors. IT has focused on acquiring tools to drive all sorts of automated solutions and in many cases quite successfully.      Whether an end user is required to participate, roadblocks, objections, and resistance usually follows. This is so different from

the consumer experience where consumers in fact have very limited support.      The help desk does review calls and call volume and report to the various constituencies. Often in these conversations the availability of automated solutions is brought up and the lack of adoption discussed. In most cases, this is perceived as an IT issue, not an end user behavior issue.      This explanation could go on, but the point that can be seen by these objections is that the focus should be the behavior, not the strategy. However, the strategy did not include how to change the end user behavior.      This is at the crux of Behavioral Driven IT.      As a Program, the end user behavior becomes a key part of the IT planning as innovation is contemplated.      In the security landscape the end user continues to play a key role. End users are frequently trained in the best practices and counter measures, however, the lesson to be taken is that breaches are at an all-time high and phishing is the most common entry point in the business.      It seems that the bad actors have identified the end user behavior as exposure before IT had developed definitive plans to address this exposure. Changing behavior is key. Simply training end users with no means to track compliance or usage of the training is likely perceived as “just another IT initiative with nothing in it for me” and no consequences.      Security in this sense for the end user community has become a marketing effort, not an IT initiative to provide the end users with a practical, measurable role in the process.

     Changing end user behavior is perhaps one of the greatest counter measures available to the degree that root causes suggest that exposure. While marketing can create awareness, marketing cannot create and generate      The industry is rapidly approaching a cross roads where the end user experience needs to include an IT strategy to drive change - it is hoped and anticipated that this new methodology Behavior Driven IT will be that bridging methodology that will strengthen the IT infrastructure while improving the end user experience.



Sustainability in the Post-Pandemic Era

  T HE SUSTAINABILITY IMPLICATIONS DURING THE pandemic is somewhat of a “mixed bag” depending upon the point of view taken. The key in understanding much of the messaging is specifically what information is being included in the messaging itself.      To draw your own conclusion, several different sources would need to be considered as an informed opinion developed. This chapter will not aggregate those points, but rather identify several of the considerations required to reach a conclusion or observation.      Each business may consider examining the various elements to draw their own conclusions as they prepare their Global Citizenship Reporting as a part of their annual filings with the earnings reporting and annual reporting.      Among the considerations include:

  • Work from Home • Office Usage • Commuting • IT Optimization • Disposition • The Cloud


     This is only a partial list which represents the types of elements businesses could consider. These areas also provide a framework of sorts to capture the conversation about sustainability and the related decisions in a post-pandemic era.

  Work from Home


     One of the obvious implications from the pandemic is working from home. Whether it was driven by a mandate or quarantine, or by non-essential roles, it was clear that working from home peaked during the pandemic has created a new standard for the workplace.      From a sustainability impact, working from home clearly increased electric bills, and likely other utilities. Depending upon the overall circumstances, it is somewhat individual how much of an increase there might have been. It is also important to note that working from home, and those business related expenses including sustainability, were co-mingled with personal consumption.      Many of us who were working from home did not consider to establish a baseline for pre-pandemic to post-pandemic to arrive at some sort of observation about the sustainability implications from working at home.      End users working from home likely retained all of the office work settings on their end point devices as they did previously. End point devices include desktop, laptop, tablet, thin client, displays, and printers. Other components and peripheral are incremental to the consumption as well and can impact the sustainability footprint.

     For the desktops and laptops the power consumption settings are likely not optimized. Interestingly, as a part of the home office set up, many IT organizations did not include the power settings as a part of the narrative for the end users. As a result, power setting were not optimized.      However, it would be a mistake to lay this at the feet of IT exclusively. End users are quite aware from their consumer experience that there are power settings in their access devices.      Next, let’s explore displays. Displays consume power often greater than the PC itself. Displays are typically older, and in many scenarios, much older than the access devices they are attached. Older displays simply consume more power. Like the access devices, displays have power settings which are often not activated so the displays are at maximum consumption and brightness.      Dual displays are a de facto industry standard, and in the home office, it is highly probable that there are multiple displays. The multiple displays is simply a 2X multiplier when considering sustainability.      Printers including multi-function devices represent the same considerations as displays. The older the device the more power is consumed.      For both printers and displays, there is a “ride it ’til it dies” mentality. From a sustainability perspective, that is not helpful. Every new or next generation of technology improves by a significant order of magnitude. A five years useful life as an example would reflect the practices for energy management and consumption developed likely over five years ago.      It is important to note that in the home offices, many end users kept the technologies on 24 hours with shutting down

periodically. The consumption of passive power (even when the devices are off but actively plugged in) can be a cost factor.      Home offices do have many alternatives for energy management, but most of the tools and features available have typically not be leveraged.      In the era, there should be increased rigor, training, and analytics available to both assist the end users in reducing their costs of maintaining their home office, but as a part of the global citizenship, providing information and leadership including some data analytics for      The home office, if viewed in context, is an extension of the workplace. As such, any tools and expertise that is relevant should be openly shared in the spirit of optimization for the

  Office Usage


     As end users were deployed to their home offices, many of the offices remained open and available. It is assumed that the areas where there were fewer workers and unused workspaces were adjusted for power consumption. This included both active and passive power, including lighting, as examples. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation should all be considered in this portfolio.      Businesses have a decided advantage over the home offices since many of the offices have energy management systems that assist in the regulation of consumption both from a predictive and proactive approach.      From an office and the facilities team, the power consumption during the pandemic should represent a decline, and in some

cases a significant decline. For many businesses, the management of the environment became a very relevant cost counter measure.      For those businesses with essential workers continuing engaged, plus some non-essential workers remotely working, the workplace become a co-mingled environment so there is mitigation of the sustainability implications.      In the post-pandemic era, businesses could consider quantifying the impact of the work in the office and the work from home implications for sustainability. There are two objectives in this consideration.      First, it is important for the business to demonstrate that the facilities adjusted their environment to the new work from home model as a sustainability and cost measure.      Second, by the business sharing the best practices for the home office end users, there is an optimization and global citizenship commitment as a part of the company culture.      The fact that the topic of sustainability has its own chapter in this book is reflective of its importance.


       For the remote work from home end users, not commuting was a “homerun”. This is particularly true when gas prices due to inflation impacted the economy.      Commuting has always been a consideration, and often a source of considerable frustration, for end users. The time spent traveling to and from work is largely considered non-productive

time, and something to be avoided if there were alternatives available.      With the work/life balance being a foremost thought, the emotion of adding the commute in many cases is a tie breaker.      From a sustainability consideration, the lack of commuting should be a very significant sustainability factor taking into consideration that many automobiles, buses, planes, and other modes of transportation during the pandemic improved the environment by many accounts.      In the era, end users will likely desire to be considered for a hybrid model. Part of the rationale may very well be to reduce the time for their commute. It is important to note that end users are not reimbursed by their employers for the cost of the commuting; it is a personal      The hybrid model will likely be the ongoing workplace strategy for many businesses. Avoidance of the commute will play a role in the businesses contribution to sustainability by embracing this strategy. Businesses should measure, quantify, and report how they are committing to improve the environment in this      Closed Loop Lifecycle has a conclusion about the return to work -“everyone wants to return to the office, until they don’t.”      While many end users seek and desire the day-to-day personal and human interaction with our teammates face-to-face, after a few days or weeks of commuting, we are reminded of the working from home without the time and frustration of driving, parking, etc. just to get to the point where we can participate in that interaction we crave.      The commute plays a significant role both consciously and unconsciously in the return to the office strategy.

  IT Optimization


     As businesses looked at the technology footprint of the end users and the devices deployed to the home office, there was little time to consider optimization. This optimization for sustainability would have included the settings for each of the devices to be leveraged in the home office and, as appropriate, newer devices if warranted by the aging of the current footprint.      The training of optimizing the sustainability footprint at home for the most part by the company did not occur, rather the guidance to the end users was to get educated by examining available documentation and guidance. Again, the end user bears responsibility for this as now the home office lead.      In the era, the business could consider making available any tools or features of the incumbent supplier base that can favorably impact the sustainability issues, while retaining a high end user satisfaction and      Whether these are third party tools, internal tools, or tools from the energy suppliers, the business and the facilities team are the experts that can share their expertise with the home office end      As indicated in this book, in the upcoming budgeting processes, there needs to be a call out for the optimization of IT. The pandemic represented an “overhaul’ of existing norms for workforce and workplace. How these new norms will impact the future IT vision and strategy needs to be determined, and in a somewhat shorter period of time than the business might prefer.


       In many instances, the home office for the end users leverages their own personal devices and peripherals.      As a result, the business has little if any input, and in some cases insight, into the footprint at the home office other than what the business made available.      The disposal of company owned equipment is typically governed by strict operational guidelines about cleansing the devices from company information and returning the devices. In some cases, there is guidance for environmentally disposing of the technology with accompanying certifications.      In the era, there will be a heightened level of interest and guidance in the disposition process. Part of the rationale of this is that disposition represents risk and exposure of company information. There are regulations that govern how the disposition should be handled and recorded. The company is responsibility for the      Even if there is an attempt to pass on that liability to the end user, it remains the company’s responsibility to own and ensure that the processes are adhered to as a part of the governance      Disposing of assets - PC’s, printers, cell phones, displays, accessories, and other technologies has long been a recognized environmental, security, and operational issue for businesses to address. The pandemic has made the disposal more complicated since everyone has their own personal, consumer footprint and now it might be co-mingled with the business technology footprint.      Disposition is a lifecycle element that requires a review of governance given all of the dynamics in place with the hybrid model and the evolving return to the office strategies.

     Disposition has aways been a challenge since it affects security, lifecycle management, accounting, and sustainability. Disposition requires ownership of IT. Disposition or lack of disposal needs to have a very defined consequence if the processes are not adhered to. For the most part, there are few, if any, consequences.      If the organization takes disposal seriously, then the practice needs to become more mature with governance that matters.

  The Cloud Era Sustainability


     As businesses and IT seek to optimize the IT infrastructure, address costs, and determine how to modernize, the cloud plays the key role in the post-pandemic era. The data center strategies implemented over the years is being challenged by cloud-first readied applications that can be hosted and not reside in the business owned data center.      A clear example of this sustainability implication is in the disaster recovery. All businesses require a disaster recovery plan in case of an emergency. For IT, that plan often includes hot site back up. Hot sites replicate the environment often a large data center of other facility.      In a cloud driven era, the disaster recovery plan is in essence an outsourced operation that leverages existing capacity not requiring incremental IT resources; in other words, not a duplicated footprint.      Because of this the sustainability implications are impacted since there would logically be a smaller footprint to be considered.      This is only one aspect of the cloud impact on sustainability, there are more as businesses examine the trade-off of the cloud,

data center, and the public or private aspects of ownership.



Employee Stewardship

  R ELYING ON THE EMPLOYEES TO deliver self-enabled IT operations is not the same as employee stewardship. In some cases, there may be some confusion.      Closed Loop Lifecycle has the following operational definition for employee stewardship. The operational definition is - “the deferring to the employee(s) key elements of an IT strategy which requires an active participation for the appropriate execution.”      In this context the business is relying on an employee to deliver a critical IT element such as security, scheduling, and so forth. There is a role that employees clearly play in the overall scheme of lifecycle and governance, but to be clear, the employees do not “own” the strategy, only their limited role in the process.      Let’s explore some examples that relate to earlier chapters in this book - scheduling of conference rooms and security.      If the employee arrives at the office and is in need of a conference room or what might be an assigned workspace, and let’s assume there is no quiet space available. It is likely that the employee will politely use an open area. Despite the knowledge that there is a process, when the employee needs the space, and it is empty, it is likely they would use it until someone “chases” them out.      When an employee who “followed the rules” (governance) shows up and asks (politely) for the other employee to vacate, often with other end users, the “squatter” departs, after profusely apologizing.

     While the “squatter” is at fault, if there is truly no available space, what should an employee do, since they are in the office? The failure is not adequate office space, and the lack of scheduling perhaps that resulted in an awkward situation.      The employees should not be accountable for the unintended consequences of a lack of capacity.      Both sets of employees - the end users who correctly requested the room and the “squatter” both lose time and productivity while negotiating an exit strategy.      In the pre-pandemic era, this was a very common scenario. The organization responsible for scheduling and availability would very much like to make this type of scenario, and employee stewardship issue -“hey, if you followed the rules, this would not have happened.” However, this is really not an employee issue.      In my working history, I worked for a manager who said something I still remember from 20 years ago (and, yes, it has been that long). At the time, I did not realize how insightful that observation was. To paraphrase the insight - “if something happens more than once, it is a trend.”      Sometimes the reaction to problems is to see it as a one-timeonly occurrence. Help desk statistics and employee feedback would suggest otherwise.      Security is a very serious matter, and one that specifically requires accountability. The accountability should be at the highest levels to assure that the tools, process, policies, and governance are all in place and effectively working.      Every employee plays a role in security; of this there is no doubt. To be clear, aside from compliance to standards of conduct to protect the business, the employees do not own the security

strategy. In the case of a breach, ownership and accountability are quite clear.      Let’s use phishing as the example for this security and employee stewardship discussion. Phishing remains one of the root causes of viruses, ransomware, and other bad actor events. While the industry is quite aware of this, businesses heavily rely on the end users as a front line of protection.      Training for end users to avoid opening attachments from senders that they do not know, clicking on sites that seem legitimate but are not, represent examples of training and coaching end users receive.      Businesses large and small, provide detailed training and constantly reinforce the behavior requested and there is a governance model in place. Training is often cited as mandatory so management can say that “there is no excuse if an end user clicks or opens an attachment that results in a cyberattack.      Should the business hold the end user responsibly? Perhaps. But the larger picture suggests that the security counter measures did not work, the end user stewardship is not an effective security strategy, it is only part of the overall framework. The end user while on the front line should not be expected to fully scrutinize every email for compliance. The end users should apply common sense based upon the rules and governance.      All employees are part of the overall governance, so what is the consequences if the governance is not followed? Is the action “CLM”, a career limiting move? What happens if the employee is a senior leader or manager, do the same rules of governance apply?

     Employee stewardship during the pandemic played a role in security with the bad actors clearly targeting home offices. However, the end users also have work assignments to deliver and likely receive a significant number of emails and communications daily.      In the post-pandemic era, employee stewardship for security must change. Having the employee as the key linkage in the process suggests that there is an infinite number of risk elements in play. Simple arithmetic explains why the bad actor would “love” for the employee stewardship to be the key.      Let’s assume for this discussion that there is a business with 5,000 employees. On any given day, the employees receive 10 emails from various sources daily. On a daily basis there is at least 5,000 X 10 or 50,000 emails in the organization. Each of these could represent a risk. When you extend the arithmetic to weeks, months … the reader can see the point - it is not likely that all of the risky content will be caught.      The more employees the greater the email and the potential risk.      I am also reminded of another quote from the same manager, paraphrasing - “it only takes one.” In this context, it is the one phishing email that is not identified that is the risk.      With the volume and level of sophistication of the bad actors, it simply in the post-pandemic era where the hybrid model is becoming mainstream, to rely on employee stewardship as an IT strategy.      The conclusion of this chapter is inescapable - employee stewardship should not be the fulcrum of IT. While end user

engagement is always a part, IT needs to architect the IT infrastructure so that automation, manageability, and security are foundational for self-enablement. The governance must be well established.      An example is perhaps a most effective way of demonstrating the point about employee stewardship. In the preceding chapter we discussed disposition of assets.      In the hybrid model the self-enablement would suggest that when the employee signs into the new device, whether pre-loaded or automated), the device is populated with appropriate files, applications, and contents. The employee is charged with the responsibility to return the old, now replaced device. This is typically well documented and the employees are well aware of their role in the process.      Yet, in many, and perhaps most businesses, getting the replaced device returned remains a challenge. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in the lack of enforcement of the governance or a gap in the asset management practice. Whatever the rationale, employee stewardship did not work in this instance.      This process is well documented in most businesses, and understood by the end users. With this as a back drop, why would a business rely on this as a governance model. If the answer is - “well, the majority of the end users adhere to the process”, it actually makes the point.      The problem is not the end user who comply and act responsibility, it is about those that do not. If there is no consequence, behavior will not change.      These capabilities are pre-requisites of employee stewardship and need to be addressed beforehand so that the dependency on

the employee is not the determining factor in any of the enterprise-outcomes.



Redefining the Agile Business

  I T NO LONGER NEEDS TO validate and prove its value to the organization. The pandemic response demonstrated that the investments and vision that IT developed in the pre-pandemic era helped in a very significant way to overcome obstacles in the workforce, and in doing so, kept the economy moving.      In the post-pandemic era, the agility that IT has demonstrated will take on a new meaning. End users will be waiting for the “next big thing” while the business will be seeking significant reductions in the IT cost models.      Agility simply means the ability to respond to stimulus, whether that stimulus is positive or negative. In some cases, the stimulus will be much more subtle and hopefully not linked to any major negative event or issue.      Agility in the post-pandemic era will focus on a much simpler definition of innovation. In its most basic form, innovation is simply doing something different. This represents perhaps IT’s biggest challenge in the post-pandemic era to redraw the strategic plan.      The industry direction seems to be very clear in the online virtual world. Health care, retail, manufacturing and other sectors have embraced new technologies and in essence have validated much of this for IT.      There has always remained a gap between what businesses do for their customers and what the businesses will do for their end users. Those days are likely in the past - end users are now

customers. Agility demands that this become the new model for the future.      Many businesses still have twin IT departments, or at least different organizational models for internal and external IT. The pandemic has changed this consideration in the future IT vision.      On one hand building a twin IT strategy may no longer be sustainable for an economic perspective. There must be a very high linkage between the two strategies. Service delivery strategies should be common.      Investments in automation should be a shared vision and experience. IT is no longer a cost center; it is a counter measure for risk and a catalyst for growth. The synergies for internal and external have been separated for too long. The inter-dependencies are heightened for example by the global supply chain issues.      Separate IT organizations or barriers is now artificial to a degree. One of the key areas of continuous process improvement is a very deep dive into the synergies in the organizational infrastructure. Rationalizing service delivery strategies, management tools, security counter measures, application management, and resources could be considered in a co-terminus manner.      While this may seem to be a harbinger of an IT consolidation, it is not. IT need to enter new skills and new disciplines, incremental funding may or may not be available. By optimizing the IT footprint, and perhaps it is a twin footprint, the incremental aspect can be addressed.      It has stated for years - “the end users are our customers.” The post-pandemic era enables IT build upon that promise. Many of the services now provided by IT are considered new

entitlements, that is a positive thing when something new is embraced so quickly.      IT has built up a feeling of good will by demonstrating all of the end user empathy and creating solutions to address some of these challenged.      By redefining agility, IT now has the challenge of continuing that momentum.



The End User Experience Versus Cost

  I T SEEMS APPROPRIATE IN THE later chapters of this book about the post-pandemic IT era, to discuss the end user experience versus costs. During the pandemic, and now into the post-pandemic era, the end user experience has risen to a new level of importance. Now a key performance indicator of IT, there is real interest in delivering, measuring, and improving the end user experience.      At the same time, in the post-pandemic era, once again there is economic uncertainty as the economics drive behavior. Behavior impacts the IT budget.      The easiest “excuse” to defer investments continues to be to cite the economy. Many leaders, however, will suggest that in tight economic times when many of the competitors are internally focused is the right time to invest in the workforce and IT.      Cost and behavior have a unique relationship. In one sense, cost drives behavior, and in another sense behavior influences cost. In the post-pandemic era, these two factors will constantly compete for attention and direction.      Businesses often look at the end user experience as being too expensive to achieve the optimal experience. At the same time, end users will continue to seek employers who share their core value of “experience first”.

     In the post-pandemic era, it is the end user, not the business itself, that will command more attention. In the pre-pandemic years where the focus was more on external, not internal infrastructure; that behavior has now caught up with many organizations. The costs to modernize, update, and automate to improve the end user experience has become table stakes as described in this book.      End users now have a new sense of empowerment. The consumerization that has long been desired can be reality.      Cost is an interesting topic when it comes to the end user experience. Cost does not necessarily mean dollar or increased budgets, or even capital. Cost implies a priority and resources. In the past, pre- pandemic, in many ways the end user experience was not a priority, but an aspiration.      With the hope that by growing revenues and profit in the business, the end user experience improvements would follow. For the most part that simply did not happen. Businesses remained tied to legacy where the deliverables and costs were well known and understood.      The post-pandemic era will reset the priority with a focus on the end users with tangible outcomes. End users believe that the end user experience is not unlike benefits and entitlement. With the churn in the employees base driven by so many outside factors, the end user experience improvements are within the reach of the business should they decide that this is a priority.

  The Economy and the Importance to IT


     The economy always plays a key role in IT. Revenue growth, improved profits, robust hiring, and consumer confidence all add to the business’s ability to invest.      When as recovery commences, regardless of the type of disaster has occurred whether natural or manmade, there is a period of economic uncertainty. The market tries to determine where the direction is heading. The post-pandemic era is no difference that other crisis we as a country have experienced.      In The Great Recession of 2008, the level of financial uncertainty was matched only by the Great Depression which began in 1929.      As the post-pandemic era commences, the inflation is at one of its highest levels in 40+ years, and it is perceived that the overall economy may, or may not, be heading towards a recession. Time will tell.      The uncertainty and the variation in consumer sentiment impacts businesses in tier ability to remain viable in some cases. Businesses in the post-pandemic era has a host of issues that impact the business, and therefore impact IT. To some degree, the IT budgets and investments reflects the businesses feeling about making those investments.      IT must become not only proficient but best in class at developing and providing detailed business cases that address some of the “headwinds” from an economic perspective.      In all post crisis situations, there are mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, downsizing, and other responses to the stimulus presented. The IT budgets and investments are in the context of current events and conditions.

     As the post-pandemic era commences, certain industries will be more impacted than others. As businesses adjust, it would be easy to defer IT initiatives rather than prioritize. However, think again about context.      If the end user experience is deferred, and there is a divestiture, merger, or acquisition, then the timing is actually optimal to bring about the fundamental changes. If the business is going to aggregate organizations and optimize, do it once.      With more applications and IT infrastructure based upon the cloud, potential mergers and acquisitions (not to mention the tactical on-boarding of new hires) may have become much easier to deliver.      For quite some time, it has been a challenge to standardize multiple businesses on an overall IT infrastructure. Based upon the services led direction of the cloud, there may be a new IT as a service model that is more easily adopted.      As the economy continues to roll along, there will always be peaks and valleys. Having a solid IT framework that is more agile in terms of being able to quickly respond to those changes will be a significant advantage for future generations.      IT should always be effective, not only in a solid economy, but particularly when circumstances are outside of the norm. There is a considerable impact not only for the internal end users, but the economy as a whole when there is less disruption in delivering goods and services both internally and externally.      From a cost perspective, we have seen firsthand what the implications were during the pandemic for collaboration. Without this investment one can only imagine the cost and implications of how communications would have occurred.

  “You say Tomato, I Say Cloud…”

       In every crisis there are unintended consequences. In this book, it seems appropriate to address what the unintended consequences might be from an IT perspective in the postpandemic era. While this is not a complete list, this does hopefully identify several of the themes that the post-pandemic era will observe as a part of the strategy. This list attempted to identify the top five implications, to be clear, there are more.      The idea of providing this type of list is to demonstrate that there has been a fundamental shift in our IT industry. In many cases, paradigm shifts are not recognized at the time of occurrence but later when the trends become mainstream.      Included in this conversation is:

  - The Cloud

       The first consequence is the cloud. Without the online capability of retailers during the pandemic, the customer experience would have been totally different. In a similar vein, if  IT could not embrace the cloud, it is difficult to imagine how the businesses could have delivered IT services to its end user communities.

  - Security


     The post-pandemic era has not been lost by the bad actors in security. The rise of ransomware and phishing are probably the best day-to-day examples of the challenges brought by this unintended consequence. As a result, the security has become the #1 problem across all industries to be addressed with a heightened sense of priority.

  - Applications

       Application rationalization has become one of the major potential cost considerations for businesses. Regardless of the industry, the time to address Tech Debt has arrived. There is no longer time to “ride out” the legacy applications. Between performance, end user experience, security, and costs there is a compelling rationale to address.

  - Automation

       For decades we have thought about a less manually driven IT world. That time is now upon us. The technologies to do many manual operations in IT are available. Whether it is Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, or any combination thereof, the postpandemic era should see a rise in automation. Much of this automation is cloud based (taking advantage of Point #1 of this list).

  - Hybrid Work

       Every so often, there is a layup (to use a basketball term). Hybrid work (working from home) was in place pre-pandemic for 20%, 30%, or greater for many businesses. Now that we are entering the post-pandemic era, hybrid work seems to be here to stay beyond those workers who had the entitlement before.      It is not only one domain that will determine success for IT and the business, it will be the ability and skill to address all of the various and often competing factors that must be addressed. Creating and establishing priorities often results in “winners” and “losers” in the process. Businesses need to move on from that mentality.      In the post-pandemic era, many of the competing initiatives are so important that there is literally not enough funding and skilled resources to address all of it. Time is also of the essence in this conversation.      The deferring certain decisions to a later time has implications. Often deferring to a later time increases the cost of entry and the cost of change. In many of the financial modeling, this is not taken in consideration since the cost of change may be considered a “soft cost.”      In this case, the cost of change is not a soft cost meaning that the direct impact to the balance sheet and impact statements can be calculated and included in the business case. For years, deferring decisions was considered a “soft cost” overall, or perhaps not even a cost at all at the time.

  The Importance of Retaining Staff

       As we examine the end user experience versus cost in this chapter, it is important to bring up again the retention of staff and its importance to the end user experience. While systems analysts are expert at designing and creating workflows and designs, the working knowledge of the business itself is immensely important.      Retaining existing staff is very much like retaining existing customers. The cost to bring new talent on board, and to close and bring in new customers, is a greater cost than leveraging the existing staff or, in this analogy, customers.      There is also the element of time. It takes time to bring a new hire on board, train the employee and prepare for the employee to be productive. This is similar to securing a new customer and waiting for the first order.      The parallel between a new employee and a new customer should not lost on the business. Throughout this book we have commented that end users have become synonymous with customers. The retention and associated costs and time reflect yet another similarity.      Businesses should also be concerned about “brain drain”. If there is an exodus of senior talent, then the business might be impacted by the lack of senior staff knowledgeable about the business itself. New hires will take time to learn not only the workflows, but the political and cultural aspects of how a business makes decisions and implements.      As the next generations enter the workforce, there may be a gap in experience, which is offset by their familiarity and expertise

in technologies. All of these factors are now a part of the postpandemic IT strategy.




  A S WE ENTER THIS POST-PANDEMIC era, we are in a new IT paradigm of end user centric based IT (User segmentation/personas and Behavior Driven IT), driven by cloud adoption and tiered service levels comprised of automation.      It is a good time to be an IT professional. Innovation and change are a daily occurrence. The challenges surrounding this paradigm shift are about understanding how to build that end user centric IT model, and addressing the security challenges by the bad actors. Our businesses need IT to have the operational, tactical, and strategic sense of delivering at the highest quality, our end users deserve that.      Our economy as well needs a robust and innovative IT. Through IT innovation and creativity, as times became the worst, it has brought out some of the best we could deliver. Regardless of the state of the economy, talented IT staffs are required to plan, design and execute the next phases of business systems.      The challenge is now to retain the focus on the end users. IT has been relentless in that effort and without any doubt by the author that IT will continue to do so in the future. The consumerization of IT, which has been a mantra for quite a while, has now arrived.      The arrival of consumerization is uncompromising since everyone has a consumer experience to compare to the internal IT experience. Businesses can no longer afford to defer the internal business processes under the banner of focusing on customers.

End users are now, by all accounts, customers. In IT, the two terms are now being leveraged in the same context.      The new approach to budgeting introduced in this book separating the operational, tactical, and strategic may well be one of the nuances for the post-pandemic era.      Focusing on the new Behavior Driven IT will continue to enable IT to adapt quickly to change as required to be not only competitive, but to attract, retain, and recruit the next generation of IT top talent.      The post-pandemic era will be a challenge, the pace of change is unbelievable and not minor. In chatting with many businesses, one of the comments made is that at this time - “nothing is tactical, almost everything IT seems to be focused on is strategic.”      End users have become more sophisticated in how they view and leverage IT; there are clearly new sets of expectations in place in the post-pandemic era. How management and leadership respond will be a key indicator of future success.      One could argue that with so many high priorities, it is almost an impossible task to navigate through all of the IT direction. Staffing and filling positions in IT has never been more important. Retaining the top talent will be one of the greater challenges facing businesses today. There will almost always be a business willing to pay more than the incumbent employee, just a fact of where we are in this business cycle.      IT should be very proud of the work and support provided during the pandemic. Essential workers in health care, retail, manufacturing and other disciplines relied on the IT infrastructure which enabled them to do their jobs in saving lives and improving our day-to-day existence.

     In a sense, the pandemic transitioned IT to be a fulcrum for the business. In the future, we should see more funding and allocation of resources to the IT agenda which for many businesses represents the ability to remain relevant and competitive.      As a growing signal of how important IT has become, IT is now the target of the cyberattacks. Security in the post-pandemic era will be the most important counter measure to be addressed. Across all industries, the cyberattacks are now not merely disruptive, but malicious with an intent to harm a business, government, or infrastructure. This is perhaps the most significant challenge that IT is facing.      At the same time, the migration to the future state of IT will not be deterred. IT has demonstrated the uncanny ability to address multiple complex issues simultaneously.      One organization, when discussing about IT several years ago commented - “I do not know perfection, but I will know it when I see it.” Striving for the ultimate end user experience, secure, and personalized remains perhaps not as elusive as we once thought.


  1. We Are All Retail - The Race To Improve The Retail Experience In a Post Covid World, By Bruce Michelson and Leif Olson, published by Archway Publishing, division of Simon and Schuster, ISBN 978-1-6657-3394-9. 2. Closed Loop Lifecycle - Client Computing in the Health Care Industry, by Bruce Michelson, Published by IDG, ISBN 978-1-61623045-6. 3. Closed Loop Lifecycle - A Complete Guide To Managing Your PC fleet, by Bruce Michelson, Published by Addison-Wesley, Division of Pearson Education, ISBN 978-0-321-47714-9, Includes separate eBook by Safari on user segmentation. 4. The Ready copyright TXU002285635, Bruce Michelson, May 6, 2020. 5. Appropriate Incumbent copyright TXu 902-417, Bruce Michelson, April 28, 199.