Lockdown has wrought huge changes on our lives and the economy. Some companies have sadly been unable to cope with this transformation, slashing staff or even folding entirely; but others, like Digital Technology Leaders Awards finalist Sandhata Technologies, have stepped up and embraced the change.
"As they say in the Hitchhikers' Guide, ‘Don't panic and carry a towel'!" says CEO Gary Thornhill. "But seriously, where do you start with this? It's the single biggest economic event since the Second World War: both a supply chain shock and demand side shock that evolves on a daily basis, as everybody is impacted in all facets of their lives."
Sandhata is a technical consultancy, focusing on DevOps and in the running for three awards: including Best Automation Project and Project Team of the Year. Thornhill acknowledges that the past six months have been difficult for many firms, but focusing on short-term savings is not the right solution:
"If you are a technology company and you are not Zoom then your business has most likely been negatively impacted in some shape or form. As a consultancy you are an easy target, and we know of whole teams to be let go at short notice as CFOs ruthlessly cut costs - in some cases not looking at the bigger picture.
"Therefore, anything new you are going to do and to re-engage with clients must have a clear, demonstrable cost-saving - otherwise you won't stay in the Zoom call long enough to even change your virtual background.
"Staying close to your colleagues and having regular coffee chats is key, sometimes in large or small groups. I have to say I have never had such great collaboration, with colleagues going out of their way to help and educate each other. Particularly during lockdown, doing things for each other, no matter how small, was vital for morale and brought us all closer together. I have seen greater transparency work with clients and partners and less of the blame culture that we sometimes get in IT, and it has brought us closer as an industry."
In spite of the pandemic, work has not slowed down at Sandhata. The company is working heavily on mainframe DevOps - which is "lagging behind other platform areas."
"Mainframe has long been siloed and has become a bit of a ‘lost world' when it comes to DevOps, with waterfall development and - dare I say it - even manual testing.
"We've developed multiple solutions... to drag it back into the light. Mainframe is still the most resilient and high-performing platform on the market and all the tooling is available. CIOs cannot ignore the requirement for modernisation, as replacement is prohibitively expensive and also very high risk, as it still underpins some of the biggest organisations in the world. There is a vast amount of cost that can be taken out with some easy wins."
Thornhill and the rest of the Sandhata team are looking forward to the Digital Technology Leaders Awards. He says:
"For me it is the real stories that bring IT to life and how it changes the way the business operates [that make events like this important]. Any events that talk honestly about the mistakes that were made and how they were rectified always resonate with audiences, whereas glossy brochures do not.
"Seeing passionate people being rewarded for their blood, sweat and tears makes our jobs and careers worthwhile, and at the same time to inspire us with new ideas and ways of working."