Originally posted on http://www.vmware.com by Pam Takahama

Learning from Others’ Transformation

It’s been said many times, we’re all in this together. When VMworld 2020 goes virtual in September, learning from your peers will be more important than ever.

At no other time in recent memory have so many companies’ interests aligned, regardless of the business they’re in. Yes, there’s shared interest in app modernization, cloud migration, and digital workspace technologies, but now IT departments are supporting organizations that are equally motivated by social distancing, contactless operations, and digital customer experiences. And many are choosing to help others navigate change.

A Blueprint for Businesses

In April, when it was clear the COVID-19 pandemic would have a long-lasting, profound effect on society and cause virtually every business to reinvent itself, U.S. grocer Kroger did something altruistic: It began publishing A Blueprint for Businesses, effectively sharing publicly what the company was learning about safely reopening in the time of coronavirus.

Updated frequently, the Blueprint includes lessons learned, best practices, and recommendations that can be adapted to many different industries—retail, manufacturing, hospitality, corporate offices, and more. In announcing the Blueprint, which had encouragement from various government officials and business organizations, Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said, “We are sharing what we’ve learned to help businesses begin to reopen safely and in sync with their respective state plans….We decided from the onset of this crisis that transparency, agility, and responsiveness would be our guiding principles.”

Kroger, Computerworld Top 100 Best Place to Work in IT and VMware Tanzu customer, has been on the front lines of the current crisis (the company’s technology team even launched a virtual internship program this summer), adjusting and innovating in ways so many other companies are adjusting: to be more agile, flexible, customer-centric. Like others, it’s doing things the company couldn’t envision when 2020 began, such as providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing at many locations, opening a free telenutrition service, or expediting its pilot of contactless payments in support of its pandemic response.

But that’s where businesses are today. They’re adjusting rapidly, working remotely, building out new and different digital services, and gauging results in near-real-time. All while keeping employees, their families, and customers safe. And they are each others’ best source of information about what works, what doesn’t, and what will allow all of us to find some semblance of a new, better normal where companies continue to thrive and innovate.

Leaders Come Together at VMworld 2020

VMworld 2020 is going virtual September 29 to October 1. An important pillar of this new, dynamic format is that companies can learn a lot from each other about navigating COVID-19, whether they’re in the same industry or not. Many common challenges span all businesses, and frankly, with organizations so laser-focused on engaging and supporting their own, distributed workforces, any opportunity to hear how others are facing similar challenges can provide much-needed perspective.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, IT leaders told Gartner in a survey that 100% of them faced ongoing disruption. Now, as traditional ways of doing business are themselves being disrupted, digital transformation is front-and-center.

Observers say now is no time to pull back on digital transformation. If anything, the pandemic is forcing companies to accelerate. McKinsey reports that in the U.S., preference for contactless operations is up 20 percent. Fitness companies, which have been forced to reinvent how they deliver workouts, have seen app downloads and new sign-ups grow anywhere from 80 to 250 percent in recent months.

In all cases, technology and digital services form the underpinnings of success.

A Test for IT Leaders

The pandemic is testing IT leaders. In the short term, they’re changing how they deliver IT services, scaling infrastructure to support a distributed workforce, and helping support new modes of operation, such as contactless busines, mobility, and digital fulfillment. Many are doing it from home offices—in physical isolation—and learning themselves to manage digital transformation in new ways.

That’s why, when there’s a chance for IT leaders to share stories and learn from each other, the benefits can be immeasurable.

During VMworld 2020, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about and from their peers in a variety of industries. Many sessions are industry-specific, many span multiple industries. They focus on the issues that matter most in this unprecedented time, including customer experience, digitalization, and IT transformation.

As you fill out your VMworld schedules of online sessions, check out these semi-live and on-demand industry selections:

  1.  1224: Government Insights: Roadmap to Government IT Transformation
  2.  2646: Modernize Education to Support Digital Learning
  3.  1223: Ensure Healthcare Continuity and Scale to Deliver Exceptional Patient Care 
  4. 1222: The Next Normal in Financial Services – the way we work, how it’s changing
  5. 1221: Next Generation Retail: How IT is Central to The Way the World Will Shop 
  6. 2936: Empowering Healthcare and Government Employees with a Digital Workspace
  7. 2937: Delivering Exceptional Patient and Customer Experiences in Healthcare and Financial Services
  8. 2938: Cloud Bursting in Healthcare, Government and Education to Achieve Agility and Scale 
  9. 2939: The Tech That Powers Connected Healthcare
  10. 2940: Navigating Cybersecurity Challenges in Highly Regulated Industries

In all, VMworld 2020 offers nearly 950 online sessions, from keynotes and roundtables, to workshops and partner sessions. Some are technology-specific and others, like those mentioned above, offer solutions-based perspective for IT leaders helping their companies navigate these unprecedented times.

After so many months of diligent IT work, it’s time to share what we’ve learned and how we’re going to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We’re all in this together. See you at VMworld 2020.

Jens Koegler

Jens Koegler is VMware's Healthcare Industry Director in EMEA. He is helping our healthcare customers develop and run modern applications to drive innovation and ensure better patient care through a digital foundation that includes data center, hybrid cloud, mobile, networking and security technologies. VMware plays a strategic role in the healthcare industry. Its leading innovations in enterprise software help ensure consistent patient care and reduce IT access time for healthcare professionals so they can spend more time with their patients. Jens plays a key role in helping customers understand how new applications, devices, the latest IT technologies and digital transformation are driving innovation in healthcare.