The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to re-evaluate their enterprise business continuity strategies. For most, the biggest shift has been around remote working and remote management of enterprise assets. Other pandemic-induced changes include a shift in focus to cloud platforms for seamless remote access to enterprise data, paperless processes replacing physical paperwork, and virtual meeting software and video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom gaining massive global adoption. In fact, Zoom reported a Y-o-Y increase in revenue to the tune of 169%1, in its first quarter results for FY 2021.
Cloud has been a saving grace of 2020 and this trend is likely to continue with 70% of organizations currently using cloud-based services planning to increase their infrastructure spend2. As per a recent Gartner forecast, cloud is projected to contribute 14.2% of total enterprise IT spending worldwide in 2024, up from 9.1% in 20203. Gartner further projects an increase in investments in public cloud computing – end-user spending on public cloud is expected to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 20204. The past year catapulted the world into a “new normal”– bringing with it both opportunities and challenges for enterprises.
Challenges with the “new normal”
Organizations had to face quite a few challenges due to the sudden change in work policies and government social distancing mandates. While many organizations already had remote work policies, no one could have ever predicted that 100% of staff could potentially work remote for almost an entire year.
As an example, one of Emtec’s multinational clients, with operations in more than 47 countries, was planning a country-wise rollout of their new digital platform. The rollout required travel across the world to manage the deployment, training and post go-live on-field support. Due to the pandemic, policies imposing travel restrictions were implemented. And this could have seriously impacted program deadlines.
The new normal presented several tough challenges for enterprises:
COVID-19 impact on cloud strategy
COVID-19 proved that organizations using public cloud resources have much lower exposure to risk than their counterparts who were still highly dependent on traditional on-premise infrastructure. It is true that many organizations have already embraced cloud over the past decade, but the pandemic forced them to accelerate their cloud migration strategy to the highest priority.
One prominent example is the increased demand for Desktop as a Service (DaaS) during the pandemic along with Software as a Service (SaaS), which remained one of the largest market segments for 2020. Gartner forecasted significant growth in Desktop as a Service (DaaS), increasing 95.4% to reach $1.2 billion5. DaaS provides secure virtual applications and desktops from cloud to remote locations. The flexible pay-as-you-go model makes it very easy to scale-up and scale-down on demand. IT teams can easily manage these virtual desktops remotely including additional purchases or upgrades of the infrastructure.
When deciding an appropriate cloud strategy as a knee-jerk response to external forces (like a pandemic), there is a high risk of potentially choosing the wrong path – strewn with security vulnerabilities, budget overshoots and complex compliance issues. Wise organizations choose a cloud strategy that considers their required investment, current business application landscape, available skill sets, current access policies, integrations required, etc.
The COVID-19 situation did force many firms to adopt short-term solutions to provide for their immediate needs, but as we move into a post-pandemic world, organizations will need to build smart cloud strategies that support their long-term decisions for how they will work – onsite, remote or hybrid.
Post-pandemic strategies for better cloud adoption
To ensure sustained business continuity, organizations need to adopt a five-point cloud migration strategy.
Define the future roadmap with the correct cloud strategy
Creating a comprehensive multi-year strategic plan will help organizations deploy cloud-centric business processes that are more scalable and efficient. Most organizations can’t move directly to full cloud-based environments yet. Here, a mix of public and private cloud strategies can help organizations meet their cloud infrastructure needs. For the last several years, public cloud providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google and IBM have been investing heavily to enable hybrid connectivity. Market leaders such as Cisco, Dell and VMware have launched multiple tools to connect on-premise systems with the cloud. A hybrid cloud strategy will enable organizations to enjoy tangible benefits while being proactive on issues concerning privacy, security and compliance. The sudden pandemic situation proved hybrid cloud strategy very useful to adapt cloud infrastructure in an agile manner.
Deploy a workable upgrade strategy post pandemic
COVID-19 pushed organizations to shift to cloud with short-term solutions considering unplanned budget allocations and insufficient time available for solution architecture. The strategy should consider an upgrade to enterprise cloud standards once the pandemic is over.
Implement robust business continuity processes
Though the pandemic was unexpected, we need to design solutions keeping in mind all unexpected situations. Moving systems and infrastructure to the cloud might invite challenges if the solution is not designed well. A robust business continuity plan should be prepared for each use case.
During the pandemic, one of our clients started planning a migration of their document generation system currently on an on-premise licensed software package to a sophisticated cloud solution that delivered personalized document generation via multiple channels as per the customer’s choice. The plan accommodated the implementation of a process to enable an immediate switch to the traditional system of document generation, in case of any issues with the new cloud solution.
Process automation is the key to enable quick response in any business process interruptions and communicate these to your clients and partners effectively.
Recently, one of our clients introduced a new automation tool that provides a cloud-based platform, which is secure, scalable and very easy to integrate with on-premise systems. The purpose was to resolve their credit team’s remote connectivity issues with their on-premise credit evaluation systems. The new tool can integrate with multiple on-premise credit applications and provide the final credit review results within seconds, saving almost 50% of time to execute the complete order cycle. Also, the credit team could now focus on more important activities.
Ensure seamless migration
Looking at the benefits gained by organizations that have already implemented cloud-centric business processes have cleared up many myths related to cloud such as security, integrity, etc. Migrating major legacy systems may involve long-term program planning with huge investments, but the past year made CXOs think seriously about implementing robust cloud migration strategies.
Acceleration challenges in cloud migration
As much as cloud migration strategies are attractive, accelerating any cloud migration within a short time span will incur several challenges.
Knowledge of cloud architecture and deployment is a major challenge while executing the cloud migration plan. Finding the right people with the right skills within a short time is a real challenge for recruitment teams.
For most organizations, cloud initiatives were not a part of their IT budget in 2020. The cost involved in cloud migration including purchase of cloud resources, implementing integrations, rewriting applications, training, etc. created massive problems in budget planning.
It’s human nature to resist change. Cloud adoption requires people to learn new technologies and adopt new processes, and the pandemic left many with a very short learning curve. Training is key to removing resistance to adoption.
The pandemic was a major catalyst for digital enablement and transformation across all business processes. From remote work to disaster recovery and business continuity, cloud adoption ensured business operations could survive during any catastrophic situation. Cloud adoption will only increase in the future and cloud will become an integral component of “business as usual” for digital enterprises going forward.
The cloud experts at Emtec Digital can help you create sustainable strategies that will support your business now and into the future. Contact us today!