We’ve been talking about work from home for the greater part of 2020. But for digital leaders, the conversation is quickly moving to “so now what,” and IT executives are finding themselves at the heart of every related discussion as CEOs, CFOs and CHROs ask:

“If we’re going to keep employees working remotely, what does our long-term tech strategy look like?”

“If we want to bring some employees back to the office and have others work from home, what does our hybrid plan look like?”

“Are the tools we have today really the right ones for the future?”

Work from home as a work in progress

For many organizations, work from home remains a work in progress. While every IT leader and team did what they needed to in 2020 to answer their brand’s immediate remote work needs, quick-fix and cobbled-together point solutions left process gaps, employee and customer experience silos, and security and sustainability questions that now need to be addressed.

Also needing to be addressed – ballooned spending as companies ponied up a whopping $15 billion extra each week during the onset of the pandemic for band-aid solutions.

Learning from experience

According to a recent 8×8 survey, a majority of organizations (58%) are either dissatisfied or only somewhat satisfied with their current communication and collaboration tools. The most common pain points for these organizations are point solutions that don’t work together (63%) and tools that can’t integrate with key business applications (26%). In a recent PwC CFO Pulse Survey, 49% of responding business leaders said their organization was now trying to improve the current remote work experience, as more than half (54%) of respondents say they plan to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow it.

Changing the conversation

Digital leaders are making it clear that they are ready to move past work from home stopgaps and focus on long-term agility. According to the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey, large-scale SaaS platform implementations are on the rise and top the investment list as “organizations turn to software with well-defined risk boundaries and turnkey solutions.”

Digital leaders are widening the gap with their investments in cloud and SaaS platforms, say the CIO survey analysts, making them “better positioned to pivot and scale into new opportunities, leaving behind organizations that resist, or are unable to invest in, their innovation journey,”

Fast followers know they need to revisit and revise many of their early, quick-fix 2020 technology investments to change their conversations from “work from home” to a long-term, agile “operate from anywhere” approach. Expect 2021 budgets to reflect the consolidation or elimination of temporary siloed tools in favor of platform approaches.