IT management, Networking

What COVID-19 Means for Digital Transformation

Author: Kevin Rubin, president and CIO, Stratosphere Networks
Author: Kevin Rubin, president and CIO, Stratosphere Networks

At a time when many businesses are struggling and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on all aspects of our lives, it’s difficult to look forward with optimism and picture a bright future. With cases increasing and some states pausing or rolling back their plans to reopen, it’s clear that things won’t return to business as usual any time soon, if they ever do.

However, during this ongoing tragedy, there are still potential opportunities for companies seeking to survive the crisis and position themselves for success after it finally ends. In particular, if your team has transitioned to working from home because of COVID-19, you can take advantage of the situation to fast forward your plans for digital transformation.

What COVID-19 Means for Digital Transformation

Before COVID-19 became an issue, digital transformation – the process of embracing new technologies like the cloud, mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve processes and enhance the customer experience (CX) – was already becoming a top priority for many companies. A 2018 survey conducted by Gartner found that 81 percent of marketers in charge of CX expected to compete either mostly or entirely based on that factor by 2020. Although the abrupt switch to remote work arrangements spurred by the pandemic was stressful for many organizations, you can also view it as a jump start for digital transformation. Now more than ever, delivering a great CX and standing out from the competition with modern tech and capabilities is vital for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. If you want to emerge from this catastrophe as strong and profitable as possible, look at this shift to remote work as a step forward on your digital transformation journey and get the most of that momentum.

4 Steps to Take to Turn the Pandemic Into a Digital Transformation Driver

There are various ways that your organization can potentially turn the pandemic into inspiration for digital transformation. If your staff members are already working from home, here are a few ways you can continue on the path toward more modern processes and the best possible CX:

1. Move essential apps to the cloud.

Cloud solutions – particularly those that offer advanced collaboration and communication capabilities like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platforms – have experienced a surge in popularity as businesses seek to accommodate remote workers with scalable, flexible solutions that end users can access from anywhere. Nearly 60 percent of enterprises report expecting their cloud usage to surpass previously anticipated levels thanks to COVID-19, according to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report. If you still have on-premise servers with applications at your company headquarters, consider migrating them to the cloud, which allows for faster and more convenient access.

2. Embrace automation.

If you’re looking to increase efficiency and free up your team to focus on high-priority tasks, automating routine activities like software installation, patching and upgrades can help you achieve your objectives while also making life easier for your staff.

3. Establish a comprehensive IT road map.

If you don’t have an IT road map in place to guide your transformation efforts, now is the time to create one. It’s difficult to get where you want to go without a map. If you already have one, it’s a good idea to review and update it to reflect any ways your business plan and goals have changed because of the pandemic. IT consultants can offer assistance if you’re unsure about what technologies and projects to include on your map to support the achievement of your objectives and ensure your company stays competitive in the future.

4. Implement a zero-trust network architecture.

The concept of a clear network perimeter was already outdated before we all started working remote, due to the growing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices in the workplace, according to the 2019 Help Net Security article “The perimeter is vanishing, how will you secure your network?” Now, with everyone working from home and often using their personal devices to do so, network perimeters are even more of a bygone idea.

As a result, traditional security solutions like firewalls can no longer adequately safeguard your organization.  A zero-trust framework with a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) offers an ideal balance of security and accessibility, particularly for distributed teams.

Ultimately, business leaders who focus on moving forward and finding the silver lining in this tragedy are much more likely to come out on top post-pandemic.

Kevin Rubin is president and CIO at Stratosphere Networks. Read more Stratosphere Networks blogs here.