New Zealand is generally considered to have been one of the nations that handled the disruption of COVID-19 the best. That’s not to say that it hasn’t had an impact – real GDP in New Zealand will fall by 4.3 per cent in 2020-21, but the country is well poised to recover, with projected real GDP growth of 5.7 per cent in 2021-22.
Driving that growth will be organisations that have, over the last year, rapidly innovated and ended up with businesses that are resilient and far better prepared for the future.
“For most organisations, the business strategy is their digital strategy,” Joe Craparotta, A/NZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric, said in an exclusive interview. Businesses have been forced to rapidly innovate this year, and while that has been a scramble, those same businesses are now in a much better position for the long term.
What’s more, businesses, in having rapidly modernised their digital strategies, are now in a much better position to tackle the social, economic and business challenges that the necessity for sustainability will place on organisations moving forward.
This has translated to greater positivity in the business community. The Institute of Economic Research (NZIER)’s quarterly survey of business found that 40 per cent of firms expect conditions to get worse in the near term, but this is a significant lift on the previous survey, which had the negative sentiment at 63 per cent. There has also been a lift in the number of firms reporting an improvement in trading, and a significant net 16 per cent of firms are looking to hire in the next quarter.
While there are sectors that will continue to be disproportionately impacted on (tourism and bricks-and-mortar retail), other sectors are experiencing explosive opportunity. Technology has been one of the growth sectors through the year, driven by the need of many enterprises to adopt new technology solutions to adapt to the changing work styles that COVID-19 has driven.
“We actually had acceleration of our business, in particular around public cloud, which grew by 60 per cent for the overall year to $581 million,” Laurence Baynham, CEO and Managing Director of Data#3, said.
“But even the basic things such as desktop computers. A lot of our customers had a lot of many thousands of desktop computers, which they needed to provide a mobile device or notebook to their users to enable the organisation to function.”
As Joe Craparotta, A/NZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric, said, many of these trends were already on the table, but events of the year have rapidly accelerated adoption rates, leading to a wave of innovation that was two or even five years down the track.
Joe Craparotta, A/NZ VP of Secure Power at APC by Schneider Electric
“The main drivers have been the fact that our core infrastructure houses data, and the aggregation of data and the creation of data has been accelerating over the last half a decade. Being in the business of building the assets that house data – the datacentres - is a pretty good place to be,” Craparotta said. “The insatiable appetite of the market for data creation, the criticality of the data and providing continuous access to data has all become even more important.”
Demand For The Edge
Working from home has become the most common story of the COVID-19 response, because it’s been the most obvious application of the digital transformations that enterprises have made. As organisations practiced social distancing and closed down the offices, they needed to open the networks to allow employees to access them remotely, and then enable data access and communications that would allow employees to continue to collaborate in their teams and with clients.
However, it’s the edge where things get really exciting, particularly looking beyond COVID. The decentralised and highly available networks that enterprises now run allows for an increasing range of applications on the edge, and now many environments are prepared for IoT, AI and other edge-reliant applications to an unprecedented degree.
“Still a very centralised cloud world, but certainly the edge applications are becoming more and more prevalent,” Craparotta said. “We had all of that organic growth coming through, and then there was this overnight acceleration, in the need to be able to house capacity, making sure that it was accessible and highly resilient as well.”
Laurence Baynham, CEO and Managing Director of Data#3
Baynham agreed, and said “digital transformation is the major driver in the technology spend, for all of our customers, irrespective of whether they're commercial, public sector and larger or small.
“Whether they are completely new to digital in terms of being a digital company or adapting existing companies and legacy based companies, transforming into being a digital company is now taking place, and it’s accelerating because of the pandemic,” Baynham added.
“Underlying the digital transformation is the technology platform in particular, and our role in digital transformation is very much at the foundation layer and that involves the cloud, both public and private, the networking, security, end user computing and the edge.”
As organisations start to look beyond resiliency, they’re going to find that the investments in transformation that they’re making now will set them well for agility and innovation into the future. IT has been instrumental in helping organisations navigate the challenges of 2020, and those organisations that have embraced it are now finding themselves in a position of real strength.
Watch the full interview between Baynham, Craparotta, and Nextgen Distribution Director, Susan Searle, here.