Digital Transformation is a 'trending' phrase with a simple definition: using technology to transform, modify or begin new business processes to meet market requirements and overcome situational challenges.
Contrary to what we may have expected from economic forecasts, the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown required a dramatic increase and focus on technology in order for office-based businesses to continue functioning. IT spending and upgrades to digital infrastructure were vital in order to survive. Those businesses who were already fairly agile found the abrupt change to remote working much easier to manage than businesses who were hardwired to their premises with no plans in motion for transformation.
Research by IFS found that, "almost 70% of respondents said they were either increasing digital transformation spending or keeping it at current levels---a strong signal given market conditions."
These businesses were surveyed in April and May of 2020, when lockdown was in full effect in places like the UK. Certain sectors were more likely to report a planned increase, including 75% of construction businesses, 58% in information technology and 55% of manufacturing companies.
The IFS survey also revealed that, "53 percent expressed their desire that the company they work for would have more of a “change before you have to” mentality. So, while it seems that the growth and recovery of some organisations is being hindered by slow time-to-value and ‘lock-in’ practices of legacy vendors, their employees aspire to more of a ‘challenger’ mentality."
This is where cloud computing has proved invaluable.
In the drastic and sudden shift to remote working, cloud computing infrastructure and software have helped to keep businesses online, communicating and functioning with very little disruption!
In order to quickly pivot to remote working, many businesses needed to source extra hardware, including laptops, webcams, monitors and more. Many businesses anticipated or noticed an immediate strain on their infrastructure due to increased remote traffic and reached out to their MSP to help stabilise and monitor their network. Others needed assistance to quickly deploy collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams or increased licensing to add more users.
Still other businesses have accelerated their plans for internal IT projects, migrations and upgrades. These projects are focused on increasing workloads and capacity in the cloud, particularly for those businesses who had relied on more on-site infrastructure before this crisis. An MSP can provide vital guidance and support for these projects, helping businesses swiftly upgrade or migrate.
Additionally, MSPs are prioritising and providing exceptional uptime, availability, performance and security to help their current customers weather the storm, especially those in critical sectors like local government, healthcare, education and financial services.
Cloud SaaS services like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams have significantly reduced the strain on internal servers for many businesses. As businesses rely on these services to communicate internally and continue to serve their customers, it is vital that cloud services remain available and stable. The responsibility to maintain uptime and availability lies with the giant tech firms rather than SMEs who are facing significant uncertainty. CIOs or IT Directors may not be certain about their IT staffing levels over time due to illness, so reliance on major cloud providers lifts a significant burden off your internal team’s shoulders.
Cloud services are keeping teams and colleagues connected, making teamwork and communication easier during the time of required physical distancing. Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom have kept businesses up and running with many of their team members working from home, helping to provide structure, organisation and a sense of normalcy amidst substantial change.
This enhanced connection is more important than you may think. Many employees may be completely new to working at home, and the required skills don’t always come easily.
Online fraud and cyber-crime attempts have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 crisis. Attackers are impersonating the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international and regional regulatory bodies, attempting to gain personal information or infiltrate businesses’ critical infrastructure. Fraud prevention firm Cifas has also seen an increase in email scams impersonating CEOs or IT departments, asking employees to share their screens or grant access to their device.
With email security, multi-factor authentication and properly configured cloud environments, you can greatly reduce the risks for your work from home team members. Additionally, make a focused effort to help your team brush up on security best practices, as many people let their guard down when working from home.
SysGroup CEO Adam Binks shared his thoughts about the opportunity for cloud computing to help businesses emerge stronger in a more distributed work environment:
"We have seen an accelerated shift towards remote working solutions for our customers, alongside a decentralisation of their core IT infrastructure towards more flexible and more resilient configurations. Investment in the appropriate cloud technology is becoming ever more mission-critical for businesses to survive and thrive.”