Almost overnight, the virus has shown us how traditionally and underutilizing the technical possibilities we still work. Mobile knowledge workers take their notebooks and smartphones for granted. Going to the cloud via WLAN is not only simple, it's taken for granted - but the IT community isn't just about cloud computing.
A friend who works in an executive position at a bank described his situation to me in despair: The PC on his desk cannot be transported home. Due to security measures, he cannot access the bank's IT systems from home with his private notebook.
Video conferences with bank customers are not planned. The only option is to go to the office or make small talk with customers via smartphone from home.
We also have similar "complex" situations. Due to compliance and security, certain data should not leave the office. Selected applications require computing power and high data volumes that are not necessarily available on a private PC or notebook to this extent.
What to do? Our tried and tested solution - not just since a few days - is VPN connections (Virtual Private Network) and remote desktop apps. With VPN we get the secure connection to the official workplace and remote desktop leaves the data and programs where they belong - in the protected space of our IT.
Of course, this is not a blueprint for thousands of employees, but it allows our management staffs to maintain a minimum level of responsiveness.
But my plea is to go further, specifically in light of improving environmental conditions: Yes, a significant decrease in particulate matter and CO2 pollution is already being measured.
The restrictions on individual mobility also have a positive effect. It's amazing what's possible in terms of work and communication, even if you're not traveling by car and plane all week. Why, with all the positive experiences of conference calls, webinars and livestreams, our SAP has not yet cancelled Sapphire 2020 in Orlando remains a mystery.
In all likelihood, there will be no Lufthansa flights to Florida in May, and the U.S. government will probably extend entry restrictions. SAP would be well advised to make a timely and comprehensive switch to other communication and education channels.
Indeed, it is undisputed that after the 2027/2030 maintenance extension and the still numerous open technical, strategic and business issues, the SAP community desperately needs a Sapphire 2020!
But home office and livestream are not enough! In B2B, we need new concepts for collaboration, communication and training. In short: less mobility (helps the environment), but more content (promotes productivity).
I was able to experience what is technically possible during a visit to Microsoft headquarters in Munich at the beginning of this year: There is at least one large presentation screen in every meeting room, and you don't connect to it via cable, adapter, etc., but via WLAN.
On the notebook or tablet, you announce which room you are in, and the network streams the shared screen content. Similar configurations are available for conference calls and printing services. So it's not office or home office, but work where content and productivity require it.
In every crisis there is also an opportunity. With innovation, we can make our professional lives more efficient and kinder to the environment. For me, it's content, communication and education that count, not an expensive business-class flight to Orlando or an arduous car trip to the DSAG annual congress in Leipzig.
I'm already looking forward to the new era after the crisis, when the "oversupply" of congresses, trade fairs and presentations gives way to content-oriented action and thinking, when content counts more than air miles.