COVID-19 has been a massively disruptive force—it has caused businesses to close, forced people to work from home, accelerated the rate of technological adoption and pressed organisations to reinvent themselves overnight to remain sustainable and survive. It has also exacerbated issues that existed pre-pandemic. Unsurprisingly, business leaders face considerable challenges as they look to the future and re-evaluate how they will move forward to remain competitive and succeed.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses is the ability to embrace change as an opportunity for innovation and growth. Many organisations were unprepared for the impact of the pandemic, and as they adapt, they are taking the key lessons they have learned and using these insights to focus on making positive changes and building business resilience for the next inevitable disruption.
Embracing digital transformation
The pandemic has changed people’s experiences, attitudes, and behaviour. It has also impacted supply chains and routes to market, urging businesses to fast-track their digital transformation to respond effectively. This trend is set to continue as companies resolve to improve their agility and flexibility, re-examine their risk management practices and increase their resilience. It has been widely acknowledged that businesses that had developed and implemented digital strategies prior to the pandemic had an advantage over those that were reluctant to embrace transformation.
Digital transformation can deliver considerable advantages, from streamlining operations and boosting efficiencies to maximising productivity and controlling costs. It can also help businesses to improve their security posture. At the same time, data-driven insights can be used to increase agility, better understand customer needs, accelerate decision-making, and provide business value.
BDO reports how Covid-19 has accelerated the rise of the digital economy as businesses ramp up their transformation efforts. As they do, they are reassessing their existing strategies, reimagining their business and operating models, deploying new cloud infrastructure, increasing productivity through automation, expanding their data and analytics capabilities, and strengthening cybersecurity.
Unlocking agility with hybrid cloud
According to Accenture, 2020 was a pivotal year for the cloud—it was fundamental in facilitating remote work solutions and has become instrumental for business continuity and unlocking growth. Moreover, as of 2020, around 50 per cent of all corporate data is stored in the cloud. The cloud has provided agility and enabled organisations to innovate to respond quickly to changing market conditions.
Many companies are adopting a hybrid-cloud strategy that enables workloads to move seamlessly between private, hosted and public cloud environments. Most organisations want to keep their data on-premises for several reasons: security, compliance, latency, application functionality, and data privacy, amongst others. A hybrid model allows them to maintain control and keep their most sensitive data on-premises while affording the flexibility to scale workloads on demand quickly and securely—either on-premises or into the cloud— enabling a simpler, faster, and more efficient way of working.
As-a-Service is changing the face of business transformation
As a result of COVID-19, South Africa is experiencing a severe economic downturn. There is uncertainty around how the future will look and the long-term impact the pandemic will have. So while organisations need to transform themselves and use digital solutions to improve operational efficiencies and remain competitive, many CIOs are focusing on carefully managing their IT costs and identifying what they can cut and where they need to invest to position the business to drive innovation and growth.
Cash preservation is critical. So is controlling costs by improving operational efficiency and focusing efforts on areas of strategic importance. As such, many CIOs are considering shifting from a CapEx model to a consumption-based OpEx model to optimise cash-flow and working capital and make costs more variable. As-a-Service models are metered and billed monthly, and there is no upfront capital investment required, while CIOs have access to cutting-edge infrastructure. Capacity can be quickly scaled up or down according to demand, reducing over- and under-provisioning while businesses only pay for what they use.
As-a-Service models offer a list of benefits, including greater agility and flexibility, more accurate forecasting and budgeting, better capacity planning, improved efficiencies and a faster time to market. They can also level the playing field, enabling smaller businesses and startups to compete with much larger entities.
While organisations are digitally maturing, many business leaders cite a lack of adequate skills as a barrier to transformation. It requires specialised digital skills and capabilities to take full advantage of new technologies and manage the complexity of different environments. With As-a-Service, CIOs can leave their infrastructure management to an experienced outside partner, which frees up internal resources to focus on more strategic business projects.
The workplace of tomorrow
The pandemic forced an abrupt shift to remote working, and while businesses are still trying to figure out how people will work in the long term, it is widely predicted that a distributed work environment is here to stay. Digital collaboration has improved immeasurably, and technology has enabled people to connect across countries and time zones. Much to the surprise of some organisations, the flexibility of remote working has led to an increase in productivity, and while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, many business leaders believe that a hybrid workplace that strikes a balance between working in an office and from remote locations will become the new standard.
Remote working has its challenges. Initially, many organisations scrambled to get their employees up and running virtually, and security was one of the most critical considerations. Now businesses are refining their remote working capabilities and relying on digital workplace solutions to maximise productivity, connect all endpoints seamlessly and securely, provide fast and complete access to applications and data, and deliver value, regardless of where workers are located.
Prioritising health and safety
Business leaders are putting health and safety first, and they face the challenge of protecting their employees’ wellbeing and providing peace of mind once it is safe to return to the workplace.
Technology can play a considerable role in enabling employee safety. A host of innovative technology and data solutions such as check-in applications, desk and room booking systems, fever detection cameras, analytics-driven space utilisation, onsite contact tracing, visitor management solutions and real-time employee communications are being developed and implemented to support a safe return to the office.
Unlocking value with the right partners
The proliferation of technology and data is changing the competitive landscape, and businesses that don’t transform themselves eventually won’t be able to compete with those that do. However, digital transformation isn’t a simple undertaking. It requires investing in skilled and experienced people, and many organisations are not equipped for it. There is a war for talent—technology and digital skills are in demand, and it can be costly and time-consuming to build a team with the focus and capability to lead and manage transformation. There are benefits to working with strategic partners with the right combination of innovation, experience, knowledge, and expertise to achieve a successful digital transformation.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) is a global, edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company with a portfolio that spans cloud, security, IoT, mobility and infrastructure. Aptronics is an HPE Platinum partner, which means it is a strategic and highly skilled partner and trusted advisor. Together, they have the experience, technical expertise and business acumen underpinned by leading-edge technology services and solutions. Aptronics, together with HPE, has a strong track record and collection of best practices to help position businesses to achieve digital maturity.
To learn more or discuss how Aptronics can help with your business transformation requirements, please contact us.
By Richard Blewitt, Sales Director at iOCO