Fast-thinking IT leaders were a benefit to Bermuda during pandemic
By “joining the dots” as reports of the coronavirus outbreak in China made international news early last year, some Bermuda companies ended up steps ahead of others with their IT preparations when the island went into lockdown in April.
They quickly secured laptops for staff that could be used for remote working, and others who had previously shifted many of their IT functions to the cloud, were able to move rapidly in allowing employees to work from home.
Those challenges and successes feature in an executive report published today by Bermuda data centre and cloud-hosting services company QuoVadis.
The report “Thinking Fast – how Bermuda’s IT leaders are responding to Covid-19” has interviews with IT professionals and decision makers from 12 companies and organisations who described what they learnt and experienced during the past year.
Gavin Dent, chief executive officer of QuoVadis, said technology helped stabilise industries, and investment in data analytics, communications, and cloud storage had prevented serious financial losses, in addition, remote working had saved jobs.
Being prepared proved to be key for many. Mr Dent told The Royal Gazette: “Most companies in Bermuda have been embracing cloud technology. Some had already dipped their toes into the cloud.”
He said the stories that emerged included surprises, such as companies anticipating what was about to unfold and acting ahead of time.
“As soon as they saw the news coming out of China, a few companies joined the dots. They went out and secured laptops, etc, before Bermuda went into lockdown. They were on the ball,” he said.
Andy Reading, head of IT at Bermuda Commercial Bank, said in the report: “You saw in the UK that they were starting to have lockdowns, and so it was only a matter of time before it was going to hit Bermuda. Thankfully, we were able to purchase the laptops we were missing quickly, before the locally available stock ran out.”
Similarly, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority acted early. In the report, Eugene O’Connor, IT manager at the BCAA, said: “By February, we could see how this was going to impact our operations and made the decision to self quarantine our staff who were travelling at the time. This meant we had our workforce set up remotely almost two weeks before the Bermuda Government introduced lockdown measures.”
He added that the BCAA was able to offer flexitime to staff who were balancing work life duties at home, especially for those with children.
Mr Dent said the island overnight went from having occasional remote working to almost everyone remote working. He added: “Companies had to react immediately to that. They had to get their staff work remotely as well as ensuring security compliance.”
Asked if remote working was here to stay, Mr Dent said: “I don't think we will go back to normal, to the nine-to-five office desk, after this. We have shown there is a different way to work. Companies need to embrace a different way. Having a choice to work in the office or work remotely can be important for work-life balance.”
He said the island was in a good place to handle the sudden shift to widespread remote working, thanks to its “mature service providers”. He added: “Bermuda was once behind the curve, but today we have world-class ability. Bermuda companies being on the ball with IT, they have saved a lot of jobs by reacting and collaborating.”
Other business and organisations featured in the report include The Argus Group, Butterfield Bank, CCS Group and the Employee Assistance Programme of Bermuda.
The report concludes with a “looking ahead“ section that considers what leaders should be doing ”now and next as a result of Covid-19“.
Mr Dent said: “This report is an opportunity to see how different companies responded and their key findings. From an IT perspective you are often working in your own silo.
“The report gives a comparison of how others responded. We do not always share our challenges with others. The report talks to some of the ways we have just spent a year in reactive mode. We now have to get out of reactive mode and take on board some of these things.”
He added: “We need to embrace permanent change, as some of these changes could be long-lasting.”
The full report can be downloaded from www.quovadis.bm/thinkingfast