As Covid continues to drive plans to return to the office, IT leaders find themselves facing the challenge to plan for what comes next. The good news is that all organizations are in the same boat and have the same opportunities to learn from each other, says Tony Kaiser, head of IT for Ericsson’s North American Market Region.
CIO.com’s Maryfran Johnson met Caesar on a recent episode of Lead CIOs directly To discuss Ericsson’s new way of working and ongoing IT modernization efforts at the $28 billion global provider of 5G infrastructure products and services, among other topics.
Caesar joined Ericsson in 2018 and is responsible for Ericsson’s enterprise IT environment across the US and Canada, handling all existing infrastructure and rolling out new technologies to over 10,000 employees.
Below are edited excerpts from Caesar’s conversation with Johnson. For more ideas, watch the full interview below.
In a new way of working:
Tony Kaiser: We have this term “way of working,” and it talks about how we work as an organization. Our way of working is that we no longer manage people over time. It’s not about, 8-5 or 9-5 is supposed to work, whatever it is.
It’s not about recording hours, it’s about recording results. So even if you’re a new employee, you learn very quickly, “Hey, my value is what I offer.” So, it doesn’t matter that I’m not in the office. My accomplishments are measured, and as long as I keep achieving, I’m in good standing with everyone else.
We really acknowledge that after the pandemic, we won’t be going back to work the same way we were before the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 80-90 percent of our employees were in the office five days a week. We are aware that post-pandemic… there will be some mix up as more people will be doing 2-3 days at home.
We, as IT leaders, have brought a lot of digitization and automation to our internal operations in the past year. Not because we wanted to, but because we had to. We had to be very agile.
So, when you look at all this rapid change, and you see where people feel comfortable now, that’s the key. They are comfortable working from home and they are productive. It’s very hard to think that we’ll find a way to flip that back to the pre-pandemic ways of working. I don’t think people will allow that.
But I think we don’t know yet. We don’t know, and we won’t until the switch is flipped and we all decide to start going back to the offices.
The plus side is that you are not alone. Your company will not be the only one that will face this. We’ll all be in the same boat at the same time.
About IT update:
[O]Chief Information Officer, Mats Holten, who is headquartered in Sweden, has a vision to modernize our entire IT organization, as we look at all of the traditional IT services and solutions that we offer.
With the cloud migration update program, we’re looking at what you guys might think of as legacy traditional applications that either run in data centers or work in your IT stores and move those things to the cloud and look at more of what we call consumer applications based applications, Where are the days of big giant ERP systems gone.
We have a lot of projects around what we call “lighthouses” that focus on enhancing our customers’ experience. For example, we are adding a lot of automation and digitization to our supply chain internally.
In terms of IT services, we’ve put in a lot of robots instead of humans, trying to make it easier for people to get answers, but much faster than having to go through the service desk and wait and wait.
One of the service desk technology came up with this great idea to create an application in which the user can take a picture of a problem and send through this application and get the background AI and ML learn how to solve the problem automatically to the user and send back an answer.
We jumped at it, financed it and built it.
On Attracting and Retaining IT Talent:
There is talent, and there is a lot of it. The question is, how do you get that talent to want to work for you versus one of the other big tech companies? Because there are quite a few of those. Therefore, there is a lot of competition for talent, and even retaining the talent that you have. Because, again, that’s the other side of the equation, where you have to make it so competitive and so culturally competitive that people want to stay where they are and not just jump ship.
So, it is an ongoing thing. And it’s all about people. Our jobs as leaders, it’s about people. And if you forget it, you have already lost the battle.