The past few months have been a roller coaster emotionally, financially and technologically. The world transitioned to an online and remote existence. People began working from home, schools began teaching online and governments governed online.
To effectively do this they all needed some form of technology enabler. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, recently stated that “COVID-19 accelerated 2 years of digital transformation in 2 months”. As a result of this incredible technical transformation, we have seen trends in organisational acceptance and use of new technologies such as video conferencing, unified communications, and Cloud applications and services.
Collaboration tools played a key role in connecting everyone whilst working and living remote. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and FaceTime have seen a spike in usage. Whilst relatively new to the software world, Microsoft Teams pre COVID-19 had 44 million daily users. Through the COVID-19 period they saw an average increase to 75 million daily users, with a peak of 200 million users in a day. This increase reflects how much of need there was for using these tools to embrace new ways of working.
Due to the new norm of 100% mobile work, we also saw a similar increase in the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions. VPNs are needed when there are legacy applications still in use, as they allow staff computers to connect directly to the office network.
As everything went remote, the security risks changed and security controls have to adapt. We first saw a trend in companies investing more in their security licenses and enabling Multi Factor Authentication. As COVID-19 work patterns start to become the new normal, companies are now re-evaluating previous risk assessments and starting to implement controls that protect confidential information that is no longer contained within a physical building location.
As people left the office, legacy on-premises applications and systems were also undergoing serious pressures as they often are not built for a remote, mobile workforce. This has ushered in a large spike in demand for Cloud services. In particular, Cloud storage provides easy access to documents regardless of your location, supports multi-user authoring and built in versioning, making it an ideal tool for remote working.
What will the future hold for technology? We believe that the dynamics will change in collaboration, workplaces and client behaviours. We predict companies will find that their needs compared to six months ago will be different as their company structure and workplaces continue to evolve, particularly as we move to a new-normal where there is a hybrid of onsite and remote staff.
The need to digitally transform existing capabilities will become more important and more companies will primarily rely on new cloud-based solutions to enable this. We expect further dramatic usage increases in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for efficiency gains, acceleration of cloud migration projects and new digital technology solutions offering easy, modern and most importantly remote methods for staff and clients to do business.
One thing is certain, the future of working after COVID-19 will differ to how we worked in the past and companies will increasingly look towards technology to help them adapt. CIOs and IT leaders are in a prime position to help their organisations not only survive through this period of change but also to thrive afterwards.
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