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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of changes to the workforce that solution providers are helping their customers battledaily.
With remote work, IT leaders are rushing to provide air-tight security around their networks, find ways to properly secure data and find and retain the best talent, all while dealing with rising costs.
While IT experts have pivoted to try and meet these challenges, the pitfalls from the pandemic, such as the Great Resignation and inflation, have them seeking new ways to tackle those challenges.
CRN spoke with 10 IT leaders at the Midsize Enterprise Summit, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company earlier this month, to find out what challenges they’re facing and how they are trying to solve them.
Here are the biggest challenges IT leaders said they areup against today.
Maher Najjer, CIO, LIFEPlanCCONY, Utica, N.Y.
Cybersecurity, because we have a lot of remote users.Our users are social workers, so they just want the equipment to work. The challenge is making sure that they‘re not clicking on something that could jeopardize the infrastructure of the security. There’s a lot of preparedness in making sure that we have a stable, reliable, secure environment. That’s what keeps me up at night.
Mamatha Mitr, IT Director, Dolby Laboratories, San Francisco
The era of the Great Resignation is definitely kicking in, and at our company as well. We’re trying to see how we can best retain folks through job crafting. It’s a new term where you don’t put boundaries around what you do, but craft yourself into ways where you can morph into different avenues.
That’s kind of how the world is … now that everybody can work remotely. People are saying, ‘Hey, I cando other things. Why should I just be constrained to my physical area?’Job crafting is something that I have been talking to my teams about, so not just doing what they‘re always doing, but giving them opportunity to do much more and craft themselves into areas where they might find it interesting down the line.
Stephen Hahn, Chief Administrative Officer, Necco, Cincinnati
Our biggest ongoing challenge is cultural change. We‘re trying to modernize our IT and begin to move to the next level as a company. We were started with an entrepreneurial culture, and now we’re trying to move to enterprise, which means more processes and more repeatability. For the people that work with our children, they‘re not necessarily the most process-oriented folks. They’re beautiful people and do a great job with the kids, but following a standard process for how to do something when they’re used to getting past ‘no,’ that is not necessarily where they excel.
Andrew Winters, Director, IT, NEL Hydrogen, Wallingford, Conn.
Lack of budget for upgrading security. We did really well getting people working in their homes during COVID. We were able to get everybody a laptop quickly and were able to get a pretty secure connection for everybody so that they could do their work, so we lost very little downtime. As far as improving the infrastructure it’s been really tough because, with all things, business has been down a little bit. We‘re hoping that with next year’s budget we could step up our security a little bit.
Craig Taylor, COO, Phase Medical, Omaha, Neb.
Staffing.We continue to work on making certain that our culture is inclusive.What we really look at is making sure that the mission of our company is the foreground. Most of what we do is about affecting patient lives, so that‘s good for trying to acquire people. At the same time, I’m a very small company and budget is a real concern. Our costs are going up and up and up, even stuff that I planned out and budgeted for. I actually publish the range of what I‘m hiring for and people still come in and say, ‘I’m interested, but you have to pay me more,’ so it‘s a challenge.
Kevin Madsen, Director, Infrastructure, Security, The Honey Baked Ham Company, Alpharetta, Ga.
Prioritization, because there’s so much work and only so much that can get done. It‘s certainly getting better, but it’s just always a challenge.At HoneyBaked, we have two times a year [that we’re busy], before Easter and before Christmas. We get two sprints a year.
Nguyen Nguyen, Senior Director, Technology, San Antonio Spurs
It‘s that technology is changing at a pace that we’ve got to keep up to date with. There are a lot of utilities out there and a lot of tools that we currently have. But it’s just really keeping up with and maintaining security for an IT organization as well as the Spurs organization.
Jarred Campbell, CTO, PSL Group, New York
The biggest challenge that I‘m facing is being able to go through and ensure that our content within our actual data repositories is actually being utilized correctly. On the network side, we’re securing devices, securing access to the infrastructure and we‘re focused on suppressing information that doesn’t need to be accessed by all resources. If we‘re looking at [personally identifiable information] and [protected health information], we’re going through and making sure that we’re not over-exposing content to users that don‘t need access to it, and then being able to actively manage that on an ongoing basis.
Ronnie Bryant, CIO, Charlotte Hornets
Cybersecurity is one of my biggest challenges because of user training andkeeping the bad guys out. It’s primarily about training users and having the right resources to protect yourself from cyber incidents.I won‘t say it’s scary,but it’s definitely concerning. They happen every day, but not all of them are successful, which is good. We do have some of the right tools in place, but regardless of what you have you always feel that you can do better.
Terry Garzon, IT Director, Community Care Plan, Sunrise, Fla.
The biggest challenge right now is retention. We’re an organization that is 50 percent remote, 50 percent in the office, but we‘re having a challenge retaining them because people are going to different technologies wanting to be on the cloud, and we just can’t get there fast enough. We‘re trying recruiters and going to the universities to attract recent graduates, but we need senior developers. We work with the Medicaid population and uninsured population for the state of Florida. There is a lot of sensitive data, so we need to make sure that we have the right people.
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