Why visualizing systems is essential in the Next Normal
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When things change quickly, it’s important to make sense of that change just as quickly. Static reports don’t do the trick—the data within them takes too long to gather and compile. Visualizations help you identify the story and relationships behind your data and systems at a glance and also quickly identify patterns, trends, gaps, and outliers in those datasets and systems.
This level of understanding at a glance is critical to stay agile, responsive, and appropriately reactive to changing circumstances. Business as usual and traditional operating models simply won’t be flexible enough in a post-pandemic world.
System visualization is the process of mapping the flow and/or function of a system, server, or data flow. Visualizations are beneficial to help a team more quickly diagnose issues, communicate across departments, and efficiently build or update a system. The Next Normal will require new solutions to help teams collaborate quickly in a hybrid work environment. Visualizing systems will help organizations empower dispersed teams and continue to empower new ways of working.
The impact of COVID-19 on tech systems
Nothing changed work more dramatically in the last generation than the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, teams were relegated to remote work indefinitely. Some organizations quickly rose to the circumstance and adapted to the shifting needs of dispersed and remote teams to keep business operational. Others, already too far behind on the digital transformation curve, flailed, and business ground to a halt.
The organizations that thrived during the shift recognized and responded to the moment. COVID-19 accelerated the need for cloud migration (a once future-focused goal) and more robust tech stacks to support and empower increasingly remote teams. System migrations and updates could no longer wait for tomorrow—they were necessary to facilitate remote and hybrid work environments.
Research from McKinsey illustrates the incredible acceleration in the adoption of new processes, tools, and technologies due to the pandemic. According to McKinsey, organizations took just over 10 days to increase remote working and collaboration instead of the typical 454 days it normally takes to implement those changes. The same data shows companies increased the use of advanced technologies in operations and business decision-making 25x more quickly than usual.
Now, experts agree there’s no going back. While overwhelming and challenging, this born-of-necessity shift resulted in previously unimaginable gains in innovation and productivity as companies adopted new ways of working. Digital transformation roadmaps raced to their destinations. Many companies turned desperate needs into innovative digital products and solutions. The reality of the pandemic also encouraged many companies to reevaluate and revisit rigid processes and policies previously relegated to hierarchies and bureaucracy. As a result, work became more democratized and collaborative because it had to be.
Ways to prepare your system and team for the Next Normal
COVID-19 forever archived the term “business as usual.” Now, the only path forward is to embrace malleable business environments and new ideas to spur further innovation. When it comes to your technology investments and systems, teams should focus on compatible, flexible solutions that encourage agility and collaboration.
Invest in agile operations
Even before the pandemic, many organizations embraced agile operating models as a way to stay nimble and flexible in a rapidly changing and increasingly digital business environment. When workforces shifted to remote work, the operating systems and processes that run the business and manage work required a shift, too. In addition, as more consumers moved their buying (not to mention food delivery and grocery shopping) habits online, many companies updated their systems to meet the new expectations and demands.
Post-pandemic, organizations will need to continue to align quickly, adapt, decide, and act as new issues or requirements arise. Agile operations empower your team to respond to new demands and work quickly and collaboratively to deliver solutions to new challenges.
Prioritize visual collaboration and understand the importance of data visualization
Organizations have never been more flexible and adaptive—their systems have also never been more interconnected and complex. As a result of this increasingly complex infrastructure, there’s a greater need for fast, visual, and robust analysis of how systems work together.
Visualizations make this analysis possible in ways that systems reports, spec sheets, and other static, manual documentation can’t. As systems evolve and work requirements change, systems teams need a comprehensive, bird’s-eye view of how new and existing systems interact and work together to serve the business and empower teams. Systems teams also need to work and collaborate in real time to keep up with increased complexity and shorter timelines.
System visualization and visual collaboration can help:
- Support agility and alignment within teams: Post-pandemic realities require new, agile ways of working. Visual collaboration can ensure teams stay aligned on goals and objectives no matter where they happen to be.
- Avoid misunderstandings in a hybrid work environment: With dispersed teams, it’s important to find ways to keep everyone on the same page. Visual collaboration tools, including virtual collaboration spaces like digital whiteboards and flowcharts help teams stay aligned on how work happens and where they fit into workflows.
- Boost engagement from employees: During virtual meetings, it’s easy for team members to lose focus or attention, especially if there’s not a visual point of reference or space to collaborate around. Visual collaboration tools help teams stay engaged and collaborative and give teams the ability to quickly understand the meeting’s outcome and next steps.
Invest in supportive technology and tools
Investing in the right visual and virtual collaboration solutions to empower and enable hybrid work environments and agile operations is only the first step. Without a clear way to visualize how all of these new processes and systems work together, you’re simply adding more complexity.
Making the long-term shift to more agile operations will require supportive technology—including new forms of communication and collaboration. For example, an intelligent diagramming application like Lucidchart can help you clarify complex systems visually so that you can build the future faster.
In the Next Normal, companies will need to maintain an agile mindset and continuously re-evaluate methods of communication, workflows, and the tools required to work effectively and collaboratively. System visualization will help leaders quickly spot inefficiencies and areas of improvement so work can keep moving forward.
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Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more.
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