In recognition of this year’s IT Pro Day, Open Access Government asks nine technology experts why IT professionals are the backbone of all businesses
Every year, IT Pro Day, celebrated on the 15th September, marks the efforts of IT professionals across every industry. But this year these employees have gone above and beyond to ensure that their organisations can continue to operate despite the unprecedented challenges. Remote working became the norm overnight, and yet IT pros didn’t miss a step, and IT Pro Day encourages us all to appreciate their dedication.
IT pros are a necessity, not an optional extra
Craig Fulton, Chief Customer Officer at ConnectWise, explains why IT pros are so vital to today’s organisations:
“From system administrators to network engineers, IT support technicians are crucial to business success and lead the charge for technology innovation. Companies need technology to operate efficiently, be productive, and compete. IT Professionals ensure that the technology is there to keep companies running, productive and to drive them into the future.
“As organisations across industries continue to operate remotely, the support and dedication of IT professionals help to keep businesses safe during this critical time and beyond. In addition to acting as the backbone of the organisation, IT professionals focus their time on protecting businesses from security attacks, troubleshooting and saving the company from productivity-killing downtime. Initiatives like IT Pro Day allow us to celebrate the vital role of IT professionals and acknowledge the many ways they help organisations achieve their full potential.”
“It’s easy to overlook the importance of IT professionals,” admits Gregg Mearing, Director of Operations at Node4, “after all, if everything is running smoothly and working efficiently, IT pros are very much in the background. But while it may be a cliché, IT pros are the unsung heroes of a business, countering the inevitable challenges head-on, ensuring that downtime is avoided and that issues are dealt with as efficiently as possible.
“This year, it’s more important than ever to recognise the vital role that these employees play, particularly with the rollercoaster of a year we’ve all had. They have helped ensure that the equipment and technology runs efficiently, which is a major responsibility to hold. The IT pro does this with skill and confidence, so that everyone else does not need to worry. It’s this on-going problem-solving ability that we should all appreciate, knowing that our IT pros are the ones that have been bearing the full force of the IT business challenges this year has presented.”
Working tirelessly 24/7
“Many businesses this year have had to rely on their technology like never before to enable them to continue functioning throughout the pandemic,” emphasises Bob Potter, CEO at SentryOne. “With employees in every industry switching to remote working – potentially something they have never attempted before – IT teams have had to work quickly and efficiently to ensure this is possible. This means that access to databases and applications from outside of the usual office environment has become a necessity. It also means ensuring that online users of company websites are able to fully use the site without any issues, despite the support team now being remote themselves.
“Downtime that prevents employees and users alike from accessing databases would have a huge financial impact, particularly at this time where every penny counts, and so the IT professionals working hard behind the scenes to keep these up and running have been, and continue to be, extremely valuable.”
“This year has been more difficult than ever thanks to the added stress of many organisations having to turn to remote working,” reveals Colin Christianson, Director & Chief Product Architect at Aqilla. “Not only will IT pros have focused on their daily tasks, they will also have had the added pressure of helping the business successfully transition to remote working, helping maintain uptime as well as continuing on-going development of the technology. This is especially important for the finance department, as many were using systems that were inaccessible outside of the office. IT professionals will have likely had the task of moving from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based one to ensure business continuity. This will have been a lot of weight on their shoulders, so it’s important to give them the recognition they deserve.”
Chris Hornung, Chief Operating Officer at Totalmobile, reinforces the importance of technology that has kept employees moving this year:
“For organisations in every industry with frontline workers – from medical and care staff to plumbers and heating engineers – knowing where your staff are at all times, being able to deploy them to the locations where they are needed most and empowering them with the right tools and information, has been crucial for keeping the country running.
“Underpinning these decisions are the IT systems that monitor and support employees on the move, and the IT professionals who ensure that these applications are working optimally. If any systems were to suffer from downtime, employees would likely struggle to know where to go and what tasks to do. The IT pros working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep these monitoring systems up and running 24/7 should be appreciated for their efforts, and businesses can often do more to show their thanks. Not only on IT Pro Day, but every day, take a moment to acknowledge your IT professionals – after all, your company wouldn’t be surviving without them.”
Ransomware on the rise
Specifically, the sudden switch to remote working this year has led to increased security challenges around ransomware, explains John Day, Sales Engineering Leader for UK&I and Nordics at Commvault:
“With the sudden switch to remote working earlier this year, businesses in every industry have found a new need for devices such as laptops that are secure enough to be used outside of the traditional office environment. As a result, these businesses have needed to quickly find ways to protect data and maintain regulatory compliance – with information today now being more remote and distributed, it is less secure and comes with an increased risk of privacy and compliance breaches.”
IT professionals are there managing it all, and as Day continues, “In the event that increasingly prevalent ransomware attacks do succeed, these are also the professionals ensuring that regular backups are taken, and made available and ready to recover data as quickly as possible. Our IT pros are the ‘unsung business heroes’ keeping the systems that service our businesses across the country up and running.”
“In today’s pandemic era, remote work has become the norm,” agrees Mihir Shah, CEO at StorCentric. “With this, IT professionals have had to become extra vigilant as ransomware has also spread viciously. Unfortunately, backups have become the latest malware target, as evolving and more sophisticated ransomware attacks now not only seek to attack onsite production data, but every possible copy, wherever the copies reside. IT departments must incorporate a secure solution into their existing infrastructure such as Unbreakable Backup, which protects backups in the event of a ransomware attack and mitigates data loss and downtime. For this reason, and countless others, we at StorCentric wish to honour and celebrate hard working IT professionals, not only this IT Pro Day, but everyday.”
Learning at every opportunity
There are positives too. Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds, praises IT pros, particularly in the public sector, for rising to the challenge the pandemic has thrown at them:
“IT pros are constantly at work behind the scenes, upholding the quality and functionality of IT in all organisations and striving to avoid system downtime—for the public sector during a pandemic, this could mean the difference between life and death. Interestingly, a recent survey of the SolarWinds IT user community found 64% of the respondents felt experiencing the pandemic has given them a new sense of confidence in managing unprecedented change, reinforcing the importance of continually advancing employee skill sets to cope with the unexpected.
“To build on this, organisation leaders should work with IT pros to address the need to upskill. To do so, they can invest in the relevant training and resources, thereby helping them gain confidence to take on current and future tech demands.”
Richard Hamaker, HR Business Partner at Leaseweb Global, builds on the importance of training and developing new skills:
“Throughout the entire pandemic, IT pros have committed to never stop learning. IT pros around the world have learned with each curveball and thus constantly further developing their knowledge and expertise. This commitment to learning, adapting and evolving has allowed them to continue adding immeasurable value for both end-users and customers alike.”
Hamaker concludes: “As we begin looking toward what comes next, I encourage IT pros to stay curious. Having curious and adaptable team members enables an organisation to themselves be adaptable: to challenge an idea, to improve it. These are all mission-critical capabilities in our current economic climate.”