[Panel Recap] How COVID is Reshaping Business

In our panel, “How COVID is Reshaping Business,” Principal and CEO Mike DeLacy and VP of CIO Advisory Services Brad Horst discussed the steps Microdesk took to address the challenges of COVID-19 and how new technology is paving the way for future innovation.

One of the first areas the leadership team addressed when remote work began was how to equip a distributed workforce. This involved understanding staff and consultant telecommuting abilities and shifting activities to ensure projects could continue undeterred.

Once the personnel structure was handled, Microdesk switched over to the CIO Advisory side of remote work to ensure our cloud database and virtualization infrastructure was in place. This ranged from hardware needs like monitors and keyboards to cloud storage and virtualized desktops that could mirror powerful software usually requiring intensive GPU set-ups. Like our clients, after the foundation for telecommuting was running efficiently, we wanted to look ahead to how we could use these new platforms and workflows to innovate our products and services.

While offices will eventually come back into being, the future of work is a hybrid between virtualized telecommuting and in-person collaboration. IoT will also be more embedded in office design and construction to bring people closer together with a shared information database. This means standardization around data gathering, storage and usage will become a necessary practice.

Keep reading to see Mike and Brad’s key takeaways from the panel.

  • From my standpoint, one of the first things we really thought about was “is the staff capable of moving to a remote environment?” I thought a lot about the people side of things: where are they living, what does the home environment look like?

  • We needed to think about how we could keep the business supporting what our clients needed from us while taking care of our people and making sure they’re not overwhelmed.

  • I think that the rapid adoption and necessity of things like BIM 360 Design and moving projects to the cloud has facilitated people looking closer at the technology. People are squeezing every ounce of value out of having BIM 360 and having those projects in that environment where they are sharing much more than the collaboration abilities of working in the cloud. They are using it as a project portal and giving owners access to locations within the environment where they can get themselves closer to the owners.

  • By executing the BIM process through design and construction and receiving a digital twin, you now have a platform to project information like where life safety devices are, whether they are functioning properly. There’s so much that I think is going to be accelerated based on what has happened over the past nine months.

  • I think that one of the big opportunities that comes out is we have new ways to communicate and we communicate more effectively in non-face-to-face situations.

  • Take a look at what you’re doing as an organization and understand what parts of it are replication of the analog processes. Let’s start thinking about what it really means to digitalize and take advantage of all the technology around us.

  • I am very amazed by how well the telcos have done in keeping us connected and keeping stuff on. Cloud service providers have scaled their capacity literally overnight whether it’s Zoom or BIM 360 or Office 365. But perhaps from an internal organization standpoint [the pandemic] has been a catalyst for helping people to adopt faster.

  • Once [operations] are under control it begs the question: what do I do with all this great capability? First, you have to answer what you want to be as a business. Then, you think how these new capabilities can reinforce that or project it out in new ways.

  • The human part of [business] is always necessary. It’s important to have those human connections face to face around watercoolers, but maybe there’s less private offices; maybe there’s more collaboration space. Maybe offices become more like conference centers where people come together to have high-energy collaborative sessions and then they go their separate ways for the rest of the week.

  • A lot of firms still struggle with how to capture data so that you can accelerate or advance your team, your sector, your branch office. It goes back to having a plan. You see a lot of interesting technology development around building behaviors and sensoring, things that have to do with how to make buildings more capable of taking care of us.

  • Rather than having IT initiatives, why not have business initiatives that are cross-functional from day one? That’s actually a form of wiring up communication.

  • Spend more time on how you package initiatives, how you build consensus, and how you map initiatives to the value system of the firm.

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