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How COVID-19 Influenced Digital Transformation
Robert H. Messner, Vice President, Information Technology And Learning Experience, Hacc, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
One innovation widely adopted during the pandemic was remote access and virtual private network (VPN) connections. These technologies allow employees to access files and systems needed to complete their jobs. Some colleges scrambled to expand their VPN licensing to support this growth, thus increasing spending and straining budgets. Through this technology adoption, institutions uncovered challenges related to reliable high-speed internet access in rural areas. Many colleges attempted to address this by turning their parking lots into wireless hot spots for their employees and students. In many instances, this short-term solution did not address employee or student needs, thus supporting the need for more federal funding to expand internet infrastructure nationwide.
Another innovation that was widely adopted was the use of softphones and video conferencing technologies. Employees could communicate with colleagues, answer student calls, conduct meetings and deliver lectures–all from remote locations. This innovation adoption reduced some hardware expenses related to physical phones and supported new communication pathways to improve relationships with students, such as drop-in tutoring sessions.
The use of softphones and video conferencing technologies enabled employees to communicate with colleagues, answer student calls, conduct meetings and deliver lectures–all from remote locations. This innovation adoption reduced some hardware expenses related to physical phones and supported new communication pathways to improve relationships with students, such as drop-in tutoring sessions
As more employees began using these technologies, information technology professionals were challenged with augmenting existing computer deployments with webcams and headsets. Demand for these accessories and computer chips grew at a time when both production and distribution were rapidly encountering challenges of their own. These supply and demand challenges will continue into the foreseeable future.
As employees adapted to remote work, employers developed or revised policies and procedures to support these new working conditions. These policies and procedures for remote employees will need to be reviewed just like any other policy.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided many opportunities to implement new technologies and improve the way we work. These opportunities uncovered challenges, such as the need to expand broadband services to rural areas. These unprecedented conditions showed us that distribution is critical to all areas of business and education, while at the same time, the transition to remote work blurred the lines of where employees could complete their job duties. For all of the great digital transformations that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, the real transformation is still ahead of us.