With every challenge comes opportunity. For many businesses, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging times in their history. Even the most refined and resilient businesses will have struggled to adapt in the wake of a sweeping global pandemic, with entire economies going into lockdown, but not all is lost. In fact, there may even be something to gain.
If we look back through history, even just into our recent past, we can see examples everywhere of global crises acting as the catalyst for positive change. Companies such as Uber, WhatsApp, and Airbnb were all born following the 2008 financial crash - all living proof that success following periods of uncertainty is possible with the right kind of strategy in place. Businesses such as IBM, Disney, and Microsoft all emerged during periods of financial recession. If businesses are willing to embrace change, invest in new technologies and find innovative solutions to complex problems, they can bounce back even stronger from adversity and pave their way to an even more prosperous future.
A catalyst for change
Even before the pandemic, technology was a critical component to business continuity. As organizations moved their operations into the cloud, they became more agile and responsive, allowing them to tap into talent from around the world and work through multiple timezones to accelerate their productivity. Digital transformation was already high on the agenda, facilitating remote working, collaboration and communication. Still, despite this, many enterprises pressed the ‘stop’ button as the pandemic hit, unsure of how to move forward. It’s an understandable response, but now businesses need to realize that the tools they need to move forward are available, and they need to accelerate their digital transformation strategies and get moving again.
We’ve seen time and time again that advances in technology can be the catalyst for huge, industry-wide change. Take the retail sector as an example. Once tied to brick and mortar stores with no means of converting customers beyond attracting footfall, it now thrives online, personalizing the shopping experience from customer-to-customer with tailored deals, targeted marketing, and the kind of one-click-purchase convenience that would have seemed impossible a decade or two ago.
Technology is an enabler. It’s constantly evolving and businesses are constantly adapting. We were always moving toward cloud-based transformation; now we’re simply under pressure to get there a bit sooner.
Should remote working be the new normal?
Part of the reason so many businesses put the brakes on was that we were all still trying to figure out whether this “shift” was permanent or temporary. Will things go back to normal? Will our office re-open in a month’s time? Governments facilitated this stasis with grants, payouts, and furlough schemes, almost encouraging businesses to wait with a “let’s ride this out” mentality. Governments supporting businesses is of course a good thing, but those destined for success will have realized quite early on that there is no “normal” to return to.
Workers, by and large, have discovered that working from presents countless benefits that may not have occurred to them a few short months ago. On the whole, they’re happier and more productive at home. They’re spending more time with their families and enjoying their hobbies, they have more time to keep fit and active, and they have a much better work-life balance overall.
Our footprint on the environment has also lessened significantly. We’re no longer piling onto trains in our millions to make our way into overcrowded urban centers to get a day’s work done. The economy may be taking a hit during this period of adjustment, but many would argue it’s a hit worth taking as we put less strain on our infrastructure and resources.
In order to be successful, businesses shouldn’t see remote working as a problem they need to fix, or an obstacle they need to overcome. They should lean into it and embrace it, leveraging it to their advantage. Businesses should be equipping their workforce with the training and tools to work remotely, cutting down on their overheads, and enjoying the reduction in costs. Having a regular meeting space or an office is fine, but in 2020 our day-to-day productivity can’t be tied to an office block.
The importance of connection
The technology we need in order to move forward can’t exist without network connectivity. In order for businesses to truly leverage things like virtual desktops and other remote working technologies, they need to come up with a definitive cloud transformation strategy that allows them to work securely and effectively without compromise. Businesses will need to think carefully about their options when it comes to things like private or public hosting solutions, the kinds of applications they choose in order to get stuff done, and how effective those applications will be in terms of their speed and performance in the cloud.
Technology has always been absolutely critical to business success. In that regard, 2020 is no different than any other year. The only difference is that now businesses are being forced to react in an industry where they might typically be regarded as leaders. Every business is now playing catch-up, trying to establish themselves in the so-called “new normal”. Just as companies had to innovate and reinvent themselves following the 2008 financial crash, businesses today need to adapt and take advantage of a sudden shift in the economic landscape.
Now is the time for action, and with the right network solution in place, businesses can be disruptors and pioneers, leading the way forward instead of simply reacting to changing circumstances.
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