**From the July 2020 issue of AOTMP® Insights**

Are you as tired as we are of hearing about this ‘new normal’ yet?

Sure, it’s exciting to consider. And there’s no doubt the term’s clickbait-y nature gets the attention it may rightfully deserve.

But, the truth of the matter is there isn’t going to be such a thing.

Even after the coronavirus is comfortably in our collective rearview mirror, pretty much everything in telecom, mobility, and IT management changes.


And while you may be worried about supporting remote workers and keeping employees connected when, where, and how they need to be right now, IT finance professionals’ jobs are about to get a lot harder than they’ve ever been.

That’s because trying to control expenses and manage budgets in a business world turned upside-down by COVID-19 will be like trying to drive at night without headlights.

You’ll barely be able to see what’s directly in front of you. And nobody will know what’s coming next. After all, even experts with decades of IT experience can’t agree on the best course of action going forward where their budget is concerned.

There’s no doubt corporate revenues are taking a serious hit – and that the effects will soon be felt by your IT finance team (if they haven’t been already). The combination of broken supply chains, less consumer demand, and productivity losses that may result from work-from-home could result in a drop as dramatic as 24% for Q2 U.S. GDP.

And your guess is as good as any regarding whether that figure continues to fall. Fortunately, the sky isn’t falling everywhere. At least not yet…

COVID-19 & Today’s IT Budgets

While the average 2020 IT budget is predicted to shrink by almost five percent, there’s no denying how essential technology has become to businesses everywhere. And that’s not the only encouraging stat if your team can survive the short-term onslaught it’s currently experiencing.

What You Can Learn From Past Pandemics

As much as anyone loves drama, these times aren’t unprecedented or unparalleled. And admitting that fact is hopefully relieving to hear. Humanity has seen global pandemics before, and if we were gambling men and women we’d put money on seeing another one in the future.

The main difference between the coronavirus and – let’s say – SARS from all the way back in 2003 is the economic scale this current dilemma impacts. GDP everywhere is falling as fast as unemployment is rising. And things are gong to get World War II-level bad (or worse) before anything gets better.

Fortunately, we live and work in a smarter world than we did back then. If lessons learned are applied to our future, recovery is possible. And sooner than you may think.

So, what should be your IT finance team’s takeaways from pandemics of the past?

The first thing you need to remember is that a recovery is only as successful as its resources and planning allow it to be. Fortunately, COVID-19 is not a natural disaster – meaning you shouldn’t have expensive infrastructure to deal with.

Therefore, your first focus is clear: policy. Your budgets and processes should focus largely on user satisfaction and what they need to capitalize on spending once it returns to ‘normal’ levels again.

But expectations play a crucial role, too. The fear of shocks and the unknown can set your IT budget back years – or prevent recovering from every truly happening. That said, there are three things you can do right now to get a jumpstart on your competition.

Tip #1: Optimize Your Processes

It’s no secret that your IT budget is being stretched. So, what better time than now to make sure your processes are effective and efficient? By eliminating waste and improving the performance of your processes, you have the potential to not just cut operational costs – but to satisfy workers and elevate the standing of your business!

Take the time now to automate processes and increase capacity for your technology management experts wherever possible. After all, process optimization isn’t a short-term gain. It’s a long-term investment that helps your team make better decisions, work more efficiently, and more effectively support business continuity and connectivity.

For some organizations, process optimization also means delegating simple IT tasks to employees outside the department. By enabling self-service, end users are given the ability to perform simple troubleshooting and maintenance tasks themselves – accelerating issue resolution while reducing IT’s growing workload.

Tip #2: Take Another Look at Your Supply Chain

If you haven’t reviewed your technology partners recently, now’s the time to engage them and explore new opportunities. Even with all the chaos surrounding work today, there’s still potential to improve your supply chain’s performance, increase user satisfaction, and accelerate business enablement if you’re looking hard enough.

As more and more IT finance teams seek supply chain solutions that save money, reevaluate your technology management partner options. There are providers out there looking to make a deal – and that potentially means better support, more resources, and/or more dedicated manpower than ever to help your team moving forward.

Increasing your headcount to expand telecom, mobility, and IT management expertise can be a challenging argument to make – especially in today’s uncertain business climate. So, seek outside support that’s not only budget-friendly but capable of helping you achieve strategic technology goals as soon as possible.

Team Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Admit You Don’t Know

Nobody has all the answers – or knows what’s coming next – as COVID-19 fundamentally changes how technology management is executed. While we’re sure exciting, new solutions and technologies will be built, there’s also a massive level of uncertainty where your budget is concerned.

If you’re not sure what to do or where to go next, there’s no shame in reaching out to a peer or industry analyst for help. Beyond the additional expertise that may have already solved similar problems, an outsider’s perspective may be better positioned to find issues you can’t see. Sometimes, you’re too close to gaps and buried too deep in the environment every day to accurately understand what’s going wrong.

Many of these outside experts also have longstanding relationships with other telecom, mobility, and IT management industry leaders. So, they may have solutions you haven’t thought of that work better or are more affordable than the options you’re currently considering.

Whatever you choose to do (or not do), stop preparing for COVID-19’s ‘new normal.’ Because it’s not coming. Not matter how juicy the alternative headline sounds.

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