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What Comes After COVID?

Strategies to Help Businesses Plan for Post Pandemic Times

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Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the broader world, and therefore the business landscape, in ways no one would have imagined just four months ago. The impact, for many, has been technology-related, as remote working and employee safety have moved to the top of many corporate agendas. 

But what comes next? Even as technology leaders have been looking for ways to lead their organizations through an unprecedented moment in history, Many are now wanting to see past the ‘new normal’ and begin to plan for what comes after the pandemic, setting technology strategy for 6-18 months time and beyond. 

But where to start looking beyond the COVID-19 crisis? From internal discussions between analysts and discussions with our enterprise clients, we have learned that the strategy requires a two-pronged attack – first, moving agility to center stage and second, creating the basis for action. 

Agility On Center Stage

Perhaps the greatest thing we have learned over the past three months is that change can happen very fast, if it needs to. During the pandemic, we have already seen changes in technology use that might have taken years have happened in less than a week: a mass shift to working from home; the mass adoption of video conferencing and collaboration tools such as Microsoft teams and the ubiquitous Zoom; call centres run from employees’ homes; and a massive shift in marketing and investment policy. 

GigaOm analyst Andrew Brust said: “There will definitely be permanent, residual habits and practices around work-from-home and virtual events, and these will have to be delivered elegantly, rather than in the ad hoc fashion they are being executed in now. Planning these things as part of a comeback is something that can happen right now, by working on continuously improving them.” 

In many cases, particularly in the mid-market and for smaller businesses, this has meant the difference between businesses staying afloat or not. And behind the scenes, there have been big shifts too – with investment in hybrid cloud spiking as companies look for flexibility and security. IT teams have been under huge pressure to facilitate millions of workers working from home whilst security teams have been contending with significantly increased attack surfaces. 

GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti summed up the hybrid cloud situation: “The idea is to have flexibility in the cloud and cost-saving with on-premise infrastructure stacks, and it is quite compelling. Data and application mobility remains the biggest challenge, but with dispersion of users the center of gravity is moving towards the cloud.”

In practical terms, this means that the ability to change is more important, and indeed viable than the changes themselves. No one digital shift is as important as the fact it could be made quickly: organizations can embrace this principle as part of an agility-first strategy with change as a central pillar. Or, to put it another way, the new normal is that there is no normal.

Building Strategy on Uncertainty

Building on this principle, the key to moving past the pandemic, is to build flexibility and understanding of uncertainty into your technology strategy: this means letting go of restrictive technology models, architectures and approaches. Below we’ve outlined some actions and some further reading to help you shape your thinking about the future and what it could hold for your business: 

  • Consider hybrid cloud as a solution for your business – it’s now a key element of many strategies, to create flexibility for workforces wanting to work from home, combined with the need to maintain strict security. Read our latest key criteria report on hybrid cloud data protection and file-based cloud  storage from Enrico Signoretti.
  • Examine how you can make it easier for employees to work remotely – invest in group collaboration tools and maintain relationships with new guidelines for managers. Read Stowe Boyd’s examination of work technology that could facilitate a more flexible culture here and Ned Bellavance’s recent key criteria report on Edge Colocation.
  • Consider the security ramifications of flexible models – a more flexible approach also makes for a more complex attack surface, which needs to be protected. In response, you can consider your security architecture and look again at your SIEM provision, and at the security you have in place for edge deployments. As a starting point, read Simon Gibson’s report on threat detection.

These are just examples of where you will need to review your strategy and plans: you can rest assured that we will be taking current and future realities into account as we move forward with our research. 

Putting the Best Foot Forward

In conclusion, COVID-19 has changed many things we thought we knew about the world of business, but is acting as a catalyst for latent changes that were already underway in tech. Simply put, for many organizations, it has accelerated technology adoption and brought about change which might never have come to pass. 

To consolidate on this theme, a first step is to build in structural flexibility to your tech and for your workforce. Above, we included links to reports which shine a light on the technology which is going to shape the next few years, and hopefully, it can help you shape your technology strategy as you look to build a picture of the next 18 months for your business. This is just the beginning, so watch this space for more.

Are you evaluating business or IT strategies to overcome challenges facing organizations during this pandemic? Tune in to our live webinar on July 1st, “Chief Data Officer: The Catalyst in COVID-19 Post-Pandemic Recovery,” led by GigaOm analyst Andrew Brust.

Register for this Webinar

4 Responses to “What Comes After COVID?”

  1. Absolutely! The coronavirus has had unprecedented impacts on the world — and the worst is yet to come. Companies must act today if they are to bounce back in the future. Doing so will help the world as a whole recover — and, we hope, become more resilient in the process.

  2. With great technology, come great hackers. No doubt that COVID-19 has changed the world forever when it comes to technology, businesses adapting to technology, and an employee’s expectations. Many employees have now learned (and companies too) that working from home doesn’t mean reduced productivity, and now employees will likely expect to have at least some days each week to work from home from now on. Though with this increased use of technology and information now being kept in the “cloud” and going through private servers, routers, etc. I’m sure hackers are licking their lips. Companies need to advance data privacy and protections especially for their remote workers’ systems.

  3. Businesses need to define scenarios tailored to the company’s context. For the critical variables that will affect revenue and cost, they can define input numbers through analytics and expert input. Companies should model their financials (cash flow, P&L, balance sheet) in each scenario and identify triggers that might significantly impair liquidity. For each such trigger, companies should define moves to stabilize the organization in each scenario (optimizing accounts payable and receivable; cost reduction; divestments and M&A).