Events of 2020 have proven to be transformative to businesses, how they operate, and how they think about everything from their supply lines to staff health, through to resilience and continuity. In the eyes of many CIOs, 2020 galvanised the need to transform the business environment, and to shift to become driven by digital, agile, and innovative.
Globally, 80 per cent of revenue growth post-pandemic is predicted to come from digital offerings and operations over the next three years, as one KPMG report notes. Businesses in New Zealand know it too, with all organisations in an August survey reporting that transformation was a priority, however, efforts to transform were being hindered by a lack of strategy to develop digital talents (59 per cent), and that only 37 per cent of organisations have embedded a digital way of working across the entire enterprise.
Furthermore, 62 per cent of organisations reported that a lack of digital skills was going to be an issue in realising the transformation objectives.
All of this points to a significant opportunity for the channel to help their partners plot a course through the challenges of effective transformation and the subsequent changes to the way of working.
“A key goal for us is getting the ecosystem really familiar with what this world looks like from a technology perspective, and also in terms of what's possible using technology,” Schneider Electric ANZ VP of Secure Power, Joe Craparotta, said. “As we come out of this, technology is playing a really important part, and most of the solutions to how we live and work is going to come from technology.
“For some examples: we saw a lot of customer experience Edge Computing devices going in, such as smart windows or smart ordering, that were aiming to give the customers a good experience without being face-to-face, to take into account the COVID framework and reduced amount of employees within the store,” Craparotta said. “There has been a lot of innovation in industrial segments as well – we say mining push hard on autonomous vehicles and autonomous mining, for example, which requires large data centers prefabricated at the Edge.
“And we saw education investing in Edge devices so they could push down courses and stream video and do online in a practical and functioning manner.”
Dell Technologies, in partnership with APC by Schneider Electric, has been actively working at supplying customers with Edge computing solutions as part of the transformation journey. As computing environments have become more disperse, agile, and flexible, and as demand for low-latency and real-time data applications has increased, Edge computing has been a cornerstone of many technology deployments.
These ways of working that have been established through the pandemic is not going away. The accelerated focus on Edge solutions and hybrid environments combining local datacentres, cloud and on-premises technology has been centred on resilience and “keeping the lights on” across 2020, however, going forward, organisations and individuals will want to leverage these new ways of working strategically. Skillsoft research shows that with nine in ten people are now returning to a “normal” working life across the APAC region, 89 per cent of employees want at least one COVID-19 practice adopted permanently.
“We've pivoted from about 20 per cent of the workforce working at least one day away from the office, to over 90 per cent as of a couple of months ago. We never really see it returning back to that 20 odd per cent,” Mark Fioretto, Senior Vice President of Enterprise, Dell Technologies, said. “Our research tells us it'll be around 40 to 50 per cent of the workforce who are IT enabled, won't return to the office for four or five days a week. And so if your systems and your processes are not set up to deal with that today, even though we've all pivoted, some organisations are doing that in a more wholesale way in a complete transition and others providing that service as a temporary initiative, really need to move to that being the standard way of working moving forward.
“The second element is around modernising and hardening your IT environment. This means the introduction of software defined orchestration, removing the low value tasks and enabling the focus of the workforce to be on the high value, profit-generating and service-orientated tasks inside the data centre. It also involves the extension of Edge Computing, and taking advantage of some of the latest technologies. That's how companies will reshape themselves to do business moving forward, where people won't necessarily transact with those organisations the same way and likewise team members or employees of those companies won't interact with their employer in the same way.”
The adoption of Edge computing and successful transformation of a business means that enterprises need to develop complex, multi-cloud environments, with AI and machine learning automation deployed over the top to assist with the monitoring and management of the environment. While much of 2020 has been in reaction to a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, organisations are now looking to their channel partners to turn this into a competitive advantage moving forward.
For more information on the Dell Technologies and APC by Schneider Electric response to the pandemic, as well as how the companies are forging ahead together, watch this exclusive interview between Nextgen Distribution Director, Susan Searle, Mark Fioretto and Joe Craparotta here.