Nothing could have prepared us for Covid-19 and the shock waves it sent through society and the economy. Now as the dust starts to settle and we develop new ways of working, the race is on to maintain productivity. And quite simply, digital transformation is the way to do it.
By now, it’s clear that in the medium and perhaps even long term, social distancing, limited travel and working from home are the new normal. Zipping across the Tasman for a business meeting just isn’t going to happen.
People have been nervous to return to the office. Even if ‘post-Covid’ eventually becomes a reality, priorities have been reassessed. Many people might never go back to the office, but that doesn’t mean their removal from the workplace.
However, long before Covid-19, “digital transformation” hogged technology headlines as something of a buzzword. While the initial hullabaloo has died down, the hard mahi has been well underway for some time for many companies.
Applications have been modernised, new ways of working introduced and tools like Office 365, Teams, Zoom, and many more, have become part of daily life. A great deal of infrastructure and applications have already been relocated to Azure, AWS, Google and other cloud-based platforms too.
For these companies, digital transformation has proven an absolute lifeline, particularly through the country-wide lockdown. It’s meant maintaining a sense of teamwork and easy access for the applications and information necessary to get work done. It’s even given many a glimpse into the home life of colleagues, including the occasional unexpected introductions of pets and small children.
What lockdown has demonstrated is that we can work remotely. We can do it when we must. And it turns out many prefer to work remotely anyway.
Transforming at speed
The flip side is that businesses which weren’t in the cloud, which hadn’t transformed, and which didn’t have the tools or infrastructure for remote working, suddenly found themselves up a certain waterway without an instrument of propulsion. ‘Non-transformed’ companies by necessity rushed in to digitise and ‘remote enable’ as much as they could, as fast as they could.
Things were thrown into stark relief: all the concerns around security, data sovereignty and protection, change management, disruption and adaptation were thrust aside. The number one priority, often at the expense of good security or data management practices, was keeping people working. What Covid did, therefore, was act as a catalyst to show what really matters to most companies.
Productivity is always the number one concern, with almost everything else becoming secondary. It’s also confirmed the marvel of digital technology. All the vaunted and generally widely appreciated ‘traditional’ benefits of cloud and connectivity – lower acquisition cost, rapid deployment, ease of management and maintenance – were immediately trumped by the flexibility and accessibility they now delivered to people unable to be in the office.
For those companies which scrambled, and for those which haven’t made much of a move yet, these benefits are the opportunities worth seizing. Migrating to the cloud delivers all those benefits. And the time to start or continue the journey has never been better.
The key thing now will be for businesses to take stock of what they’ve achieved – and make sure their transformation foundation is secure, reliable and ready to build on. If you’ve skipped steps in the race to remote working, best you make time to test and assess the technology you used to stay productive. The last thing you need right now is for an opportunistic cyber criminal to spot a vulnerability in your newly deployed online business tool before you can fix it.
Here are four key takeaways for businesses continuing their digital journey;
Make sure you understand your new boundary
Try and document what you did during lockdown, so you can map out your new network boundary. Perhaps you deployed Zoom or Teams for video conferencing or rolled out new VPNs – any new technology deployed in response to lockdown would have changed your perimeter. If possible, ask a third party to check your new boundary for any holes or vulnerabilities.
Get your cloud security configurations verified.
Cloud service providers will have some security tools you can leverage, but it’s up to you to make sure your newly deployed cloud applications are configured correctly. An audit will help you determine whether you’re using the cloud as securely as possible, so you can mitigate any misconfigurations before they can be exploited.
Rationalise your systems and apps
If you’ve added new applications to the cloud, make sure you analyse how you’re using them post-lockdown. Many companies have a growing collection of redundant apps and tools that take up precious time and money to maintain and secure. By rationalising your apps and systems, you can cut down on extra work and redirect your budget and resources to where it’s most needed.
If lockdown happens again, are you ready?
As the folks in Melbourne will tell you, there is a real risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, causing a second full or partial lockdown. Now’s the time to review your systems, and make sure any critical technology needed to maintain productivity is put in place.
Whether or not Covid-19 becomes a permanent feature of our landscape, the important thing to understand is that this is how we need to work today, and how people will expect to work in the future. Smart, flexible, online, anywhere – with digital being the key.
The experts at our specialist cloud consultancy Emerging Technology Partners are on hand to help you get the most out of your transformation strategy. Click here for more information on how we can work with you.
Watch the recording of our online event - "Evolving cyber security alongside digital transformation" - on our Kordia Talking Tech episode hub by clicking here.