Gerry Tombs, CEO, Clearvision explains how the sudden mass adoption of remote working due to COVID 19 is accelerating the pace of digital transformation – and raising new challenges
Most companies have started to digitally transform their businesses as they look to automate working practices in order to optimise processes and be more productive. As a result, the majority already have flexible and remote working practices in place, as well as working from home policies for specific teams and employees. But with the sudden dramatic turn of events due to the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus, businesses are having to instantly ascertain how to ensure businesses continuity, remote working and collaboration for the entire organisation, amidst a plethora of corporate travel bans, potential curfews, lockdowns and employees being forced to self-isolate.
This almost instantaneous change in employer and employee behaviour and working practices has placed unprecedented pressure on organisations to enable home working, to an extent that has never been seen before. And organisations such as Google, Microsoft, Cision and Zoom have already extended the free aspects of their collaboration and video conferencing tools, normally only available for enterprise customers, to all businesses, in order to keep global commerce running.
Without a doubt, this is a wake-up call for organisations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms, will certainly mitigate the impact of the outbreak and maintain business as usual both now and over the long term.
Taking COVID-19 aside for a moment, the more sophisticated technology gets, the faster we move away from the centralised, hierarchical office model. Additionally, in the last few years, the perception of work has shifted from ‘time at desk’ to a more outcome-driven approach that is delivering major advantages to companies and employees alike. In fact, cloud-based project management and virtual teams are quickly becoming the norm. For example, over 16% of companies worldwide hire only remote teams.
This flexible new work style goes a long way towards solving the work/life balance challenge that’s arisen in our modern world. Globalisation has meant the need to communicate with colleagues all over the world and in different time zones has stretched the boundaries of our normal working day from “9.00 to 5.00” to “when is the most suitable time to talk?” This means that not only can employees tackle work challenges when it is most appropriate, but they can work when they’re most productive, and have access to their teams and their projects whenever insight or opportunity strikes. And the uptick in productivity, when employees are working more communicatively and collaboratively, is enormous.
Additionally, while new technologies present powerful opportunities for organisations, they also introduce challenges. As outlined above, the pace of change in IT is unprecedented and no longer can IT departments standardise on one or two computer models, a single operating system, and a short list of approved applications. The mobile devices and cloud-based technologies that have brought so much possibility have also introduced complexity of devices, platforms and apps for IT departments to manage and secure.
For many organisations, those challenges add up to significant expenses: the cost of hiring and training qualified workers, purchasing the infrastructure to support emerging technologies, and keeping systems up to date and secure. Rather than struggle to keep pace with technology, many companies are turning to managed services providers for help. By trusting a third party, such as Clearvision for example, to handle cloud deployments, mobile initiatives, collaboration tools and security, organisations can focus their time and resources on their core business objectives.
And again COVID-19 brings into sharp focus the need for many organisations to transition to a managed service in order to build much needed business resilience. Likewise, organisations should be seeking reassurance from their managed service and IT support partners that they will be able to operate as normal in the event of any widespread change to how employees need to work. Here at Clearvision, as a born-in-the-cloud organisation, we can provide this capability; in the event of regional or nationwide restrictions on movement, nothing will change for our customers from a servicing and business continuity perspective. That is because we have always been highly focused on bringing both teams and people together, delivering a 24/7 managed service, utilising our ClearHub contractors, our cloud capabilities and multiple tools.
My advice to readers is to seriously look at accelerating your digital transformation plans. We can help you implement the right strategy, the best tools and our team can undertake a health check to ascertain what you already have and whether you are using it properly and a team of consultants to move your IT infrastructure forward.
Right now, we are working hard to make sure that none of our customers get left behind in this pandemic and that we are supporting their ongoing business. Let’s face it, change is inevitable, this new virtual/managed workplace dynamic is here to stay and I foresee that once we are over the pandemic, more companies that have experienced the value a managed service brings will be changing the way they operate, not just in the short-term but over the long-term.