A server room where IT workers support remote work

During the current health crisis, most of the focus in technology in the past few weeks has been on technologies that enable remote working and collaboration. However, it is just as important that enterprises have the infrastructure and information management technology to allow a large part of their workforce to work from home.

With the volume of displacement we've witnessed in the past two weeks come major implications for infrastructure and how workers access and use information and data. As more people work from home, it is crucial that enterprise information systems have the capabilities that will help users find the right information quickly to get work done without compromising security, said Venkat Ramasamy, COO of FileCloud.

Finding the right information securely should be the number one priority for information management systems in the COVID-19 era. To some extent this can be achieved by implementing proper document tagging, classification and data leak prevention capabilities as part of the enterprise's information management program. There are seven other elements that need to be in place too:

1. Using ERP

Information management can be more difficult across businesses due to remote work, but with the proper tools it can ultimately be more efficient, Matt Pantana, senior vice president of product at Unanet, said.

Businesses enterprise resource planning (ERP) software will be able to track, analyze and effectively manage information from home, in real-time, and even go a step further to forecast all the “what-ifs” in their business, which is vital in this ever-changing business atmosphere. For this to work, though, several elements must be prioritized:

  1. Get buy-in from all stakeholders for an ERP system.
  2. Implement the software and begin collecting project and program data in a central repository.
  3. Common processes for all projects for the organization is a must.
  4. Establish portfolios in accordance with the business.
  5. Common KPIs should be established with visual dashboards.

“With an easy-to-use, cloud-based ERP tool that centralizes data, and these steps in place, businesses will find a more efficiency and capability in managing their business information, even with everyone at home,” he said.

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2. Knowledge Discovery

Many enterprises are prioritizing knowledge discovery. Because every day, a large amount of information is created and distributed in every organization; most of it is unstructured and is scattered across a number of silos, said Vishal Sharma, CTO at SearchUnify.

Now, with remote working, new silos are being created — chiefly, remote collaboration and communication tools. Therefore, many organizations are investing in technology that integrates these disparate enterprise knowledge sources, allowing remote employees to search in one place for information stored in information sources — CMS, CRM, project management solution, documentation center and our team collaboration platforms.

3. Information Flow

Josh Brown, SEO and content marketing manager of HelpJuice, said enterprise leaders need to focus on improving the flow of information by overcoming barriers to knowledge sharing. Typically, this requires a shift in culture as well as dismantling of organizational silos to promote better communication and collaboration which results in better informational accessibility.

Related Article: How to Improve Support for Remote Workers

4. Codifying Employee Knowledge

The documenting and codifying of employee knowledge requires finding ways to capture implicit knowledge (intangible information in an employee's head) and codify into explicit knowledge (information is set into a tangible form that others can make use of).

5. Accessible Information

Finding ways to organize the information in a way that is easily accessible. Essentially, after you improve the flow and transfer of information, you need to find a way of centralizing the information in a way that makes it easily accessible and searchable so that employees know exactly where to look for said information and are able to find it easily.

6. Value In Data

Michael Nelson, vice president of digital strategy and technology at Cultural Vistas, said his company is exploring ways to discover insights and recognize hidden value in its extensive data stores. “The business has historically focused on administrative processing services to further the mission of international learning and exchanges, and we are now pivoting towards opportunities to monetize the data we already have,” he said. The objective is to develop insights for new markets, discover untapped revenue opportunities, and to offer new services to both past and potential clients.

To achieve these new results with years of historical data, the company is actively shifting from a proprietary, disparate data management philosophy to a single data platform that will drive business scale and efficiency. The goal is to quickly ramp up on the new data management platform so that it can democratize information throughout the organization and invite staff to help explore and execute on information monetization strategies.

7. IT Response

There has been a material shift towards remote work in response to this pandemic. IT departments are leaning on collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Yammer and Workplace from Facebook. As a result, Microsoft Teams has reported a 40% increase in usage. To create an effective information strategy to enable employees to work effectively at home, Sarah Casdorph of Aware has the following suggestions:

  • Define data access: Involve the right stakeholders. The list often includes the collaboration platform owner, infosecurity, compliance and legal leaders.
  • Define levels of access for communication data: Who can adjust records retention policies? Who can search and extract public or private messages? Who oversees data loss prevention management?
  • Reduce shadow IT: Understand where employees are collaborating. Be sure to consider both endorsed and shadow solutions.
  • Define endorsed tools: This should be based on employee needs and the organization's ability to implement securely and quickly.
  • Sensitive data: Define how you identify and respond to instances of sensitive data sharing in your digital workplace (this often takes the form of content moderation or monitoring). Do not forget to consider instances of edited and deleted messages.