Archive, Blog Contracting COVID-19 as a High-Tech CEO: Challenges and Surprises

Contracting COVID-19 as a High-Tech CEO: Challenges and Surprises

By on May 6th, 2020

Thankfully Down, But Not Out

Normally, I tend to be a private person, but I’ve been asked by several friends and business leaders to tell my story after I contracted the COVID-19 virus, as well as the unique position of what my company and its employees did for enterprises, service providers, and government operations and crisis centers. Here’s what happened:

Running the Business

My primary concern for the business had been for the safety and well-being of our employees and their families. As of March 16th, just before I took ill, we stopped all travel and all employees had moved to work from home (WFH). We do quite a bit of mobile work, so this not a drastic transition for our business, but like many, we have had to rely on conferencing systems to continue our work. In a very fragmented market space, I think we have had to install and participate in at least nine different systems, including Cisco Webex/Teams, Microsoft Teams, Zoom Meetings, Citrix, GoToMeeting, Google Hangout/Meet, Apple FaceTime, Microsoft Skype and some others I did not know. In short, if they make it, the chances are good we’ve used it.

Working from home has shifted our work schedules and changed the ways in which we interact with clients. The travel time for most of our team members now measures in seconds; their commute distance, less than 100 feet. This has had positive results: we have been able to stay focused on building our Connected Intelligence Platform and have had more time to discuss and work through what our future plans and roadmap include. In one way, this ordeal has reminded us that we need to allocate “thinking time” to work through thorny challenges.

Initially, we had a small team build a COVID dashboard with our platform, yet with so many versions of varying quality and a large volume of disinformation and poor datasets, my management team felt that we did not need to add to the confusion. While visualization and dashboards are no longer mysterious terms or concepts, we kept a watchful eye on the many different versions and methods of how information is communicated and linked to actions.

Surprises From Every Angle

Since we locked down, we’ve discovered several things. While we talk about business continuity plans and some of our staff participated in global workshops on pandemics, we realized that many plans had several gaps. A few of the things we have learned:

  • What do we do about WFH when our employees’ desktops are in the office?
  • How do we maintain a strong security posture when most of our team members and clients are using their personal devices?
  • We had a lot of discussions around security and privacy, and learned that some of the built-in capabilities of edgeCore and its edgeRPA Enhancement Module can assist our security position and reduce potential privacy exposure.
  • Our customers are relying on edgeCore in this crisis, which is also inspiring.

While most of our installations are in IT operations, business operations, and emergency services, we have had a sharp increase in our clients’ demand to extend organizational awareness to virtual boardrooms for those working from home. Our belief that everyone deserves to be connected to their organization (inspired by Nine Lies about Work by Marcus Buckingham of ADP and Ashley Goodall of Cisco) through better observability, intelligence, and automation is proving to be the right move. Our team’s passion to make better organizations through clarity, insight and intelligence will be our next step forward, as well as for society at large as we emerge from the COVID crisis.

Closing Thoughts and the Way Forward

This is a difficult time for many. Rather than cite some pithy quote, I’ll paraphrase my father, “Your mother cares about the reason – The world cares about the result. At all times, be responsible for yourself and those around you. If you take total accountability for everything that happens to you without excuses, your life will be fine.” This is what I share with my team and employees.

The significance of accurate data management and governance has become more obvious and important than ever. Multiple health organizations reporting and tracking differently led to some improper conclusions early in the crisis. We have also worked to educate people about the different ways to track and link data by time. We are also discussing curves, trajectory, and velocity. Some are using AI or even fusing data to create new metrics.

After all of this, I’ve come to two conclusions: I consider myself lucky to come through the way I did. Second, I am very optimistic about edgeTI and our next contributions. Feel free to visit our website, Follow us on LinkedIn, and share your perspectives or ask me a question.

#COVIDCEO #COVIDleadership #ConnectedIntelligence #edgeCore

Thanks for the background photo by Apex 360 from Pexels

About Jim Barrett

Jim is responsible for setting strategic direction for the company and overseeing the successful attainment of its short and long-term goals.

As a seasoned corporate leader, Jim has over 20 years of leadership experience in multiple areas within IT software and services organizations. As a founder of Softential, Jim built an extremely successful systems integration organization with a network of more than 12,500 associates across 38 global locations which was eventually acquired by Cyient in 2014. While at Eltrax, Jim grew sales from $0 to $40M and was a key member of the management team that orchestrated and negotiated a acquisition by Verso Technologies.

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