The COVID-19 pandemic has lit a spark in the digital transformation journeys of Australian customers, but in some cases, the results risk burning out.
According to Anthony Woodward, founder of IT consulting firm Accelera, the urgent need to set up home working has sped up businesses' cloud migration progress, which could leave some with less than perfect setups.
Speaking to ARN, Woodward said he wondered if there would need to be a lot of remedial work for overly rushed projects post-pandemic, providing opportunities for partners as larger mega-migrations get frozen.
“Customers had to start urgently planning for the next three months instead of the next three years,” he explained. “But what we saw was that a lot of those organisations replaced that effort with an urgent need to enable their workforce to work remotely. And so in a lot of cases that pushed some to faster cloud migrations.”
In the words of Woodward, many customers began migrations to cloud from a standing start without very much pre-work done at all. “So they were almost going straight from an old on-premises system straight into a cloud,” he said.
This was primarily driven by the need to support remote working as Australia entered a nationwide lockdown at the end of March.
From an array of cloud unified communications tools, Microsoft Teams was one of the popular choices. But as Woodward points out, you need Microsoft Office to make the platform stand up.
“And while they’re scrambling to get Teams online, customers can continue that pace [along the cloud journey] if they want to migrate the rest of the desktop business on to Microsoft 365.”
As such, he believes COVID-19 has given those already down the cloud path the “impetus to pick up speed and move faster” on their migrations. However, the speed of this has left some gaping “red flags” in terms of security, Woodward fears.
“There were already a lot of high-profile security issues and problems starting to flow through even before COVID-19 hit,” he said. “Now you've got the problem that people are so much more reliant on remote systems and networks and very simple social engineering problems.”
“So, where in the past, a cloud service provider or a partner might have been engaged to build a proof of concept or a testbed. They may now have to refocus back to the more technical core party systems that businesses are using just for their day to day for the short term.”
For partners whose bread and butter is built on large, strategic deployments, the future looks uncertain, especially with new outbreaks in Victoria and NSW, alongside the doubt over the federal government’s business provision after September.
“Those longer-term projects, they're not gone; they will be back,” added Woodward. “But right now we need to focus on have we got the right core systems in the right places, whether that be cloud or on-prem or hybrid? And are they secured properly?”
What also will look dramatically different for partners themselves post-pandemic will be the means of deployment.
As a specialist in cloud and digital transformation consulting, Woodward is himself familiar with remote working but believes many larger channel players may not be.
In contrast, he said: “A lot of small and medium businesses who are in this space already do heaps of their work remotely, so they would have had no issue with carrying on and engaging with customers.”
One thing is for certain though, he believes: “If you are a service provider that very much depended on going on site once a week to visit various customers and do a lot of on site work, the writing has been on the wall for that sort of business for a long time.
“This has probably hastened the need to change quickly to being a far more cloud-aware sort of business to be able to continue to provide service to those customers after this is all over.”
ARN Advance is a centralised editorial resource designed to help partners access forward-looking content as the Australian market attempts to reposition for growth.