COVID-19 expedites cloud transformation plans
By Karl Reed, Chief Solutions Officer at Pivotal Data
Cloud migration was already firmly on the technology investment agenda of most businesses before the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic thrust cloud computing to the business forefront.
While South Africa lagged the global adoption curve, local business leaders were formulating cloud transformation strategies or had begun piecemeal implementations, with many organisations moving beyond cloud backups.
Cloud as a service (CaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) adoption for certain services or business applications received the main focus, which resulted in a 4% increase in related IT spend between 2018 and 2019. Software spending rose 11% for the same period.
However, the major constraint to cloud adoption has been the costs related to the critical forklift upgrades required before moving on-premises solutions and systems into the cloud.
Due to the nature of how these systems were designed, built and implemented into the organisation's environment, these requirements made it difficult, if not impossible, for companies to migrate to an end-to-end cloud model. The time, cost and effort required to realise a true cloud strategy often outweighed the potential benefits.
Then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, which completely reordered investment priorities. Within a matter of weeks, the need for social distancing forced every business that could still operate to embrace cloud solutions to enable remote working, facilitate workforce collaboration and maintain customer engagement.
A Propeller Insights global survey indicates that 40% of companies are currently accelerating their move to the cloud due to COVID-19's impact. Additional findings show that 32% are starting a move to the cloud, while 51% are planning to move more applications to the cloud and 39% expect to be 100% in the cloud.
Companies that had already begun their cloud transformation journey found it easier to pivot to remote working set-ups, while others had to target low-hanging fruit to implement solutions, at pace and often at scale, that would ensure some semblance of business continuity amid the chaos.
Businesses that had not yet started had to first look at critical systems such as communication services and contact centres to determine how best to transition to cloud-based services. While some did so overnight, others continue to grapple with their cloud migration roadmaps.
Amid capital constraints due to the pandemic's devastating economic impact, many companies will need a strategic approach to maximise return on cloud spend and unlock capabilities that deliver operational value and boost productivity.
To do so, organisations must prioritise systems that they can easily transition to the cloud within a couple of days or weeks. These solutions include IP telephony, unified communications and contact centres solutions, among others. These solutions generally don't require local hardware or software installations on devices and are operating system (OS) agnostic, which means employees can simply access these cloud-based solutions via a Web browser.
Enabling a workforce to leverage cloud services and applications in this manner can help businesses increase productivity, while also realising cost savings through lower data costs due to easy and flexible connectivity to the cloud, compared to provisioning VPN access to traditional on-premises systems.
And with social distancing measures likely to remain in force for the next 12 to 18 months, until a vaccine is developed, more businesses will continue driving the cloud transformation trend as they shift customer-facing interfaces online and facilitate work-from-home and remote capabilities to limit office capacity.
This new workplace paradigm requires access to communication channels and platforms that enable clear employee and customer engagement, in addition to reliable connectivity and access to back-end systems such as CRM and ERP solutions to ensure staff can service client requirements and fulfil their job tasks.
And it is transitioning these legacy on-premises enterprise solutions to the cloud that can often result in unnecessary cost and complexity. To ensure a successful, effective and secure migration to a cloud environment, with limited operational disruptions, businesses must partner with a managed services provider that has the knowledge, expertise and experience in provisioning these solutions.
A competent provider that can offer end-to-end services, from connectivity and security to cloud enablement with trusted cloud services providers, is ideally positioned to help businesses realise their cloud transformation ambitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A technology provider backed by these credentials can leverage economies of scale to minimise costs, while offering a single point of contact to reduce complexity and build trusted customer relationships that will see your business through this crisis.