The disruptive impact of COVID-19 is forcing Australian organisations to accelerate transformation projects into terms of weeks rather than years, according to local technology leaders. The shift is putting a new strain on IT departments but many report the change is uncovering new benefits.

“The current situation is placing many customers under pressure with challenges to scale-up remoting technologies, networks and digital infrastructure,” said Andrew Fox, director end user experience, VMware A/NZ.

“Many of our customers who were planning their digital transformation journey are now accelerating their initiatives. Businesses who had a multi-year plan have, in some cases, implemented significant transformation in just a couple of weeks.”

Fox says the customers who had already embraced digital were in a strong position to respond to the workplace challenges of the pandemic. He notes cloud strategies in particular because of the immediate accessibility and scalability they provide.

Early research on the effectiveness of Australian business continuity plans shows they performed surprisingly well and organisations’ early digital transformation efforts were indeed paying dividends during the current disruption.

Guy Danskine, managing director of Equinix Australia told Which-50 the current shift in digital consumption has never been more drastic. The internet and data centre company has seen a 40 per cent increase in internet exchange traffic in Sydney.

“COVID-19 has created sudden and new challenges on the IT infrastructure supporting remote work and other business critical applications,” Danskine said.

“With all of this increased volume in data moving over networks, technology teams throughout Australia will be focused on business continuity and workforce productivity, from both an application and infrastructure perspective. In particular, evaluating the scalability of their current unified communications and collaboration systems across many more locations and users.”

Danskine says the rapid shift has made IT departments even more critical as businesses attempt to maintain or deploy the necessary level of digital infrastructure.

Future proofing

While the pandemic will hopefully subside as soon as possible it is still important for organisations to future proof their IT networks, according to Frank Ong, regional vice president, Riverbed Australia and New Zealand.

Ong tells Which-50 the current situation has underscored the value of networks.

“Rather than seeing networks as a mundane aspect of IT, consider them the foundations upon which all innovations and services are built,” Ong said.

“Without a strong IT network, the rest of your IT will suffer, particularly in a time where we’ve never been more digitally connected. Taking steps to preserve the longevity of your network, creates a system that is agile and future-proofed, and provides a company with greater security, better application performance and faster troubleshooting.”

VMWare’s Fox says while the speed of change has never been faster, organisations can not afford to discount security.

“A key factor to consider in this process is security, because this change we’re experiencing is long term. While it’s important for customers to adapt quickly to scale-up VPN and remote-working solutions, and deploy new cloud-hosted solutions, many will revisit and tweak their strategies over the rest of the year to further enhance security, accessibility and experience for users who are no longer connected to the corporate network.”

Fox argues cloud based systems strike the best balance of scalability and simplicity for organisations looking to bolster or retain increased remote working or learning systems, and urges organizations to do their homework on partners.

“Seek technology partners who can be relied upon as trusted advisors in all situations, not just suppliers. Look for solutions which provide consistency for users, as it will help maintain productivity through change and result in a more satisfied user experience.”

Equinix’s Danskine adds edge computing can also help meet the new remote demands and organisations need a mix of network capacity through “ a combination of private, secure physical and virtual interconnection products and services.”

Indeed McKinsey analysts argue the post pandemic period will include a renewed push towards digital business and organisations have little choice but to embrace it further.

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