Throughout 2020, the worldwide spread of COVID-19 has introduced adversity for each of us personally and challenges for every sector professionally. Since the very start of the pandemic, the overriding duty of many companies has been digital transformation. It enables them to keep the business afloat and ensure their customers have been able to respond to changes in circumstances and adapt to new IT realities.
This mission was especially crucial when taking into account that one of Hong Kong’s great modern dichotomies exists in its approach to technological advances and their actual adoption. Though Hong Kong is respected worldwide as a hub of digital research and productivity, this lofty status stands in stark contrast to the approach of many of the city’s businesses who take a more cautious “It’ll do” approach to their level of digital development, putting off change until absolutely necessary. Driven largely by reasonable fears about costs, a lack of familiarity with new systems, and ever-present security concerns, this mindset has nonetheless left many companies with a jumble of incompatible systems and siloed data they have only tolerated begrudgingly.
But when COVID-19 hit hard, it completely changed Hong Kong’s workplace landscape, and that necessity for change finally presented itself for companies massively and unexpectedly.
The most pressing issue is providing stable, connected, remote workspaces, and maintaining consistent working environments for employees. The unstable nature of the pandemic (multiple waves interspersed by quiet periods) and localized outbreaks have resulted in wild fluctuations for each company’s work from home (WFH) policy. This means it is essential to also make sure these remote workspaces can operate in total sync with their office counterparts, allowing hybrid working modes and enabling shifts from one workspace to another at short notice with minimal inconvenience.
However, a major roadblock for any meaningful digital uplift is the incompatibility issues companies witness across their cloud systems. This hurdle is nothing new, in that almost a quarter of organizations have been working on cloud migration at a snail’s pace of three or more years. Digital solution providers have to close these gaps and introduce customers to unique multi-cloud architectures. Specifically tailored to each client’s rules and requirements, they allow users to build, move, and run applications between clouds. Most importantly, with clouds connected in this manner, collaboration between different teams is possible regardless of where users are deployed.
Digital transformations like this are not a short-term fix. It isn’t just a matter of the next coronavirus wave forcing workers back to their home-office desktops; it’s about being prepared for today’s hurdles, whatever comes next, and embracing newer, better modes of work practice. Yet, if remote and hybrid work models will be the practised strategy for the foreseeable future, it is only prudent if customers voice their worries about security. After all, when an entire company goes remote for the long term, that’s thousands of users accessing millions of data assets from any number of locations. It is perfectly reasonable to wonder if that’s eventually going to give potential intruders some unwanted points of access.
Addressing this concern has been a key part of my company’s partner relationship in 2020. To minimize partners’ security risks, intrinsic security measures have been added to the company’s digital solutions, and hands-on-labs are available to partners to strengthen their skillsets to understand the product fully and feel confident in its use.
According to a recent study, 75% of surveyed partners are planning or considering increasing IT skills staff training in the near future. In general, it is also found that around half of the respondents believe staff are as productive working remotely as in the office, think employee satisfaction has increased since working remotely, and expect to have at least half their staff working remotely in 2021. The new mode of working and connections are likely to continue, and companies are prepared for this new normal, whether the pandemic will go on or not in the next year.
If this year taught us all one thing, it is the importance of connections. Despite physically apart from each other, digital transformation enables better connection among companies, employees and customers. There is no such thing as a one-shot transformation. Businesses that continuously embrace new technologies and develop integrated strategies will be in the best position to emerge in the post-pandemic era.
Maria Tong is a GCR Partner Sales Director at VMware. She leads the Greater China solution supplier and distributor team, helping to promote partner selection, recruitment, support, product packaging and launch, providing end-to-end services for key partners in Greater China.