Authored by: Sandeep Bhargava, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Japan (APJ), Rackspace Technology
Undoubtedly, the world of business has been disrupted this year, as organisations move to evaluate their business models and technology use in response to the pandemic. Lockdown-imposed restrictions have meant that most Asia-Pacific organisations have had to switch to remote work. We have observed that the businesses which have coped best with this change are those that have adopted some form of cloud technology.
From Zoom to Microsoft Teams, Slack and everything in between, cloud delivery technologies have underpinned this transition and have allowed new work from home (WFH) routines to be established. A Gartner study reveals that post-pandemic, almost half of all employees will work remotely at least part of the time, highlighting the need for greater digital dexterity and the provision of flexible work options appropriate for a mixed/remote workforce.
Here, we outline the four things organisations need to know about cloud in order to take advantage of new tech opportunities and remain competitive:
‘Pivot’ is the word of the year – for good reason
If there is one word that best describes the new approach to business strategy, it is pivot. Businesses that had become complacent in the past are finding they now have the most work to do, whereas, in comparison, organisations that implemented agile and flexible digital strategies are making only minor adjustments.
The solution for many businesses during this time of upheaval has been to adopt cloud for data management and storage, as well as for increased security. The almost overnight ‘shift to digital’ has highlighted the need for enterprises to ensure cloud is part of all business continuity plans. They need to get back up and running quickly, identify bespoke and cost-effective cloud solutions, and ensure appropriate security measures are in place so that employees can work remotely without the fear of unsecured VPNs or the loss of critical data sets. From necessity comes innovation and 2020 has applied huge amounts of pressure on businesses to pivot, re-evaluate and consult experts on ever-evolving challenges. Partnering with specialist consultants that have dedicated cloud expertise can help address the immediate need as well as the design and implementation of long-term solutions.
The rise of the Chief Continuity Officer (CCO)
C-suite roles are constantly evolving so it only makes sense to create a role that will pass the test of time. As the need to rehearse for fire drills, the reality is that business leaders must be prepared for the worst case scenario so that they know what is expected, are better able to respond, and feel equipped to handle potential crises with ease.
Enter the role of the Chief Continuity Officer – the C-suite leader responsible for answering the question: how can we best prepare our organisation for future potential crises and what steps must be taken to achieve this? Preparedness is the key to future-proofing any organisation.
With disaster recovery and business continuity as core competencies, organisations must now have a dedicated person to lead from the front and set a clear example for others to follow.
The CCO role will be of high importance moving forward as organisations need to make sure that their continuity plan is up to date and that automation and security are backed up, so that whether the customer walks through the virtual or the physical door they get the same experience. This applies to every industry. Whether it is a financial institution or a manufacturing firm, Covid-19 or future pandemics and incidents cannot be the excuse for poor customer service and support. Customers want the same consistency in terms of experience from partners, whether the business is WFH or in the office.
Digital commerce will continue to expand
We are currently witnessing the pandemic’s ability to accelerate digital transformation efforts across every industry, but none more so than retail. Digital commerce will continue to expand as consumers’ demands change and lockdowns continue.
There has been a rapid shift towards a digitally-native landscape as these generations are more acquainted with spending time online and are familiar with making purchasing decisions from the comfort of their homes – long before coronavirus had even entered their vocabulary. The uptrend in online shopping is set to continue even after countries relax restrictions. Across Southeast Asia, consumers have been spending more for essential goods on online platforms, and more than a quarter (28%) have tried a new e-commerce app since the virus broke out, according to a study by Bain & Company and Facebook.
While many businesses have already adopted e-commerce solutions, there is now a real opportunity to break ahead of competitors and become true e-commerce pioneers in FY21. Cloud is a simple step an organisation can take towards pandemic-proofing its business strategy. With the vast array of cloud options available, sourcing a partner can take the confusion and hassle away and allow business leaders to focus on the more important tasks at hand, like providing exceptional digital customer experiences and planning for business continuity.
Security and automation – why they’re next on the list!
The increase in e-commerce sites is creating a need for a refocus on automation and security.
During the pandemic, businesses have been caught out by cyber attackers. The New Zealand stock exchange, for example, has been disrupted during WFH by distributed denial of service attacks and a rise of phishing attacks and ransomware. The shortage of technical security staff, the rapid migration to cloud computing, regulatory compliance requirements and the unrelenting evolution of threats continue to be the most significant ongoing major security challenges.
The CCO will employ automation to ensure continuity and efficiency, bringing greater value to businesses and ensuring that work is not bogged down with simple tasks. Practical examples of automation in the region include a hotel in China that uses robots to deliver food to people placed under quarantine, while in Singapore there has been an increase of automated convenience shops in the local universities. The use of chatbots, too, has greatly increased.
Post-Covid, the next frontier for digital transformation will be for security to work with automation teams to ensure the business is secure during a time of pandemic risk.
In fact, this is not just a cloud, it is an acceleration of the need to step change. Satya Nadella, the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, says it well: “As COVID-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security, we are working alongside customers every day to help them stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”
There is both immediate surge demand, and systemic, structural changes across all of our solution areas that will define the way we live and work going forward.