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The Elevated Role of IT: Driving Business Forward and Beyond COVID-19

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At the end of April, I will celebrate my one year anniversary at Riverbed. I joined the company when Riverbed had already started working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, I have only met one person face-to-face—our CEO, Rich McBee—who I met when I was interviewing to join Riverbed. I don’t have an employee company badge (an extreme rarity in technology) and I’ve only met my team and fellow leaders at Riverbed via computer screens and cell phones. But today, almost 365 days later, I can honestly say that this last year has been both a challenging and incredibly rewarding journey. So, what are some of my biggest takeaways?

IT plays a critical role to make everything work together

As the CIO of Riverbed, my role is to make sure that IT systems that run the business operate smoothly and that we meet our deliverables to our customers. I also need to make sure our systems work for every employee—regardless of their location.

With employees becoming acclimatized to the idea of work from home (WFH), as well as meeting and transacting online, organizations will shift to WFH or work from anywhere (WFA) as a norm rather than as an exception. That’s why the connection to company resources via a laptop is so vital. If your employees are not connected consistently and securely then they’re unable to collaborate and be productive.

As with most organizations, the use of video and audio-conferencing tools at Riverbed has increased significantly. As a result, we’ve ramped up our technology infrastructure to account for the surge. We’ve also increased our investment in bandwidth expansion, network equipment, and software that leverages cloud services.

Digital transformation has been accelerated by 10x

Most IT organizations have a short-term action plan and a long-term strategy. But COVID-19 served as a forcing function for both simultaneously. Digital transformation strategies that were five years forward needed to be implemented in weeks. And having a strategy in which IT sits directly with the CEO is the only way to truly drive business forward at such a rapid pace.

When we look back on last year, we realize the milestones we accomplished and the radical change that was accelerated to connect people with technology. At Riverbed, we accelerated our cloud-first strategy to operate more effectively. I would have never dreamed that it was possible to work 100% remote in a matter of weeks, but having a framework in place enabled the transition to happen quickly. And because Riverbed helps customers with network and security operations, as well as accelerating access to networks and applications regardless of a user’s location, we’re also leveraging our own solutions to help ensure user productivity and the overall performance of our business.

A remote team is a more productive and happier team

You may think of IT as technology forward, but in the end we are a people-driven function. This last year as we faced incredible pressure to keep our IT systems driving the business, I’ve seen a huge performance increase in our team. The time we used to spend commuting is now spent closer to home and that work/life balance makes for a happier workforce that is just as productive.

As I look back to the last year, I’m very proud of the work that we’ve accomplished at Riverbed. Nothing impacted our ability to run productively and meet all of our customers’ deliverables. It wasn’t easy, but our team has left a lasting impression on the business and our employees. I just can’t wait to meet my fellow Riverbed-ers face-to-face in the coming months.

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