Cloud | 09.28.2020

How COVID-19 is shaping the future of tech

The pandemic has fundamentally impacted our lives – how we access healthcare, how we buy food, how we learn, and definitely how we work. For most of Carousel’s customers, work-from-home has changed the name of the game and more organizations have accelerated their desire to shift applications and services to public cloud. That transition has created opportunities and, unfortunately, some serious security challenges. Concepts such as Zero Trust networks are getting more attention because traditional methods of protecting end users may no longer be as effective. To better safeguard newly remote workers and other network assets, organizations are putting greater emphasis on endpoint security as well as emerging cloud technologies, including secure web gateway (SWG) and other security measures under the SASE umbrella.

Our customers are also expressing a strong desire to provide a more seamless collaboration experience and to maintain productivity when people are working from home. Employees have become comfortable with web conferencing, and more of them are now also using virtual backgrounds and other advanced features. Looking ahead, there is increasing interest in leveraging productivity suite bolt-ons, like those Microsoft makes available through their analytics suite for Office 365 and others. Users are eager for new tools that help to streamline workflows and enjoy a more seamless experience. Businesses want to gain insight into collaboration usage and other metrics, while sustaining efficient operations.

A real estate rethink will drive tech decisions

It isn’t just the digital world that’s changing. As organizations realize their workforces may continue to be remote for a while, many are determining their physical or onsite needs aren’t what they were even a year ago. Some will likely choose to eliminate branch offices, for example, or to scale back large campus environments. These changing footprints are causing enterprises to weigh the value in fixed services such as MPLS versus potential savings in a strategy that relies more on cloud. In general, cost optimization will become critical in the months ahead.

The workforce evolution is also impacting tech

For businesses, things are now all about enabling the virtual workforce – keeping them secure and productive, and allowing them to feel connected with team members. Having things in the cloud gives you better access to data, you can make better informed decisions more quickly because your services are always available and accessible in the cloud. Even in the case of contact center and customer agents, most of those who haven’t already shifted to working at home will, because it just makes sense. Why have someone located in a corporate building unless you have very specific compliance or security reasons? Organizations are realizing they can save money and the nature of recruiting talent will and should change. It will be advantageous for companies to look at how to best enable their remote workforce and attract candidates from markets they may not have gone after previously. The result will be a more diverse and more productive workforce.

For those customers needing to maintain on-premise capabilities, there are few (if any) remaining limits on what you can run in the cloud. Only speed-of-light and edge computing opportunities are likely to keep enterprises in touch with their on-prem compute and storage. There are so many advantages with cloud technology today. You can create a data lake and have your information readily available, for example. Analytics can be performed and business decisions made more quickly. That used to be a multimillion-dollar, multi-year venture. Now you can do it in a week for a fraction of the cost. Running IVR for customer support centers, enabling AI and chat bots – all of that can be done in public cloud. Even at scale, public cloud provides the ability to tap into heavy compute capacity and still deliver a seamless experience without a lot of spin-up time. That’s something customers and users are demanding, and we encourage businesses to build on the remote work movement to make it happen.