Three lessons from 2020 that the IT channel can't ignore
By Diego Tedesco, Commercial and Marketing Director, Virgin Media Business Wholesale
December 17th 2020
Covid-19 has ushered in a new every day for consumers, employees and your end customers.
77% of large organisations reported struggling to adapt to the pandemic due to legacy IT networks, our recent survey found, with 48% finding it challenging to support remote working. The pandemic has created new needs that can only be met by digital infrastructure.
And it's why we've seen an explosive acceleration in digital transformation. We've jumped 5.3 years in digital progress in 10 months alone, according to the cloud communications platform, Twilio.
The pandemic has caused devastation for many. Not every organisation has survived and more may fall. But like other disruptive events of history, it brings long-term opportunities for those equipped to adapt, stabilise, and rebound.
As we approach 2021, it's important to look back at these three important developments for the connectivity channel. Not just to consider how far we've come this year, but to apply what we've learnt to build success in an uncertain, but optimistic, future.
1. Working patterns have changed permanently, calling for new connectivity solutions
When the first lockdown was introduced in March, UK plc had to rapidly pivot to support mass homeworking. Businesses had to shift resources to the cloud and rethink their IT strategies to keep employees connected and projects moving.
This was largely successful. 93% of UK workers wish to continue working from home beyond the end of the pandemic, according to YouGov, while only 7% want to return to the office full time.
Our own insights, based on conversations with C-Suite executives across the UK, show that 55% of enterprises have been impressed with the progress they've made. There's a widespread wish to continue supporting flexible working over the long-term.
While the rollout of the Covid-vaccine could mean that many workers return to the office next year, many businesses are not considering reverting to everyone working in the office, everyday.
Hybrid working, with employees operating from multiple locations, is likely to become dominant. This long-term trend will only increase the demand for more flexible, agile networking solutions.
The IT channel will play a pivotal role here. It can make the case for advanced connectivity technologies like national high capacity services (NHCS). These point-to-point services will offer enterprise head offices and data centres lightning-fast speeds and the ability to communicate and transfer massive data volumes instantaneously between different office sites and remote employees.
This will support seamless employee collaboration and ensure those working in the office can communicate instantly with remote workers.
2. Resilience has become the new priority in end customer boardrooms
According to our insights, businesses further ahead in their digital transformation journey were better able to adapt to the first lockdown. They were more resilient to sudden change and could adapt and stabilise more quickly than their counterparts.
With lockdowns a continued possibility until at least Easter, your end customers will be looking at how they can embed organisational resilience. They know they need to be prepared to survive another national lockdown, or future crises.
A large part of this resilience comes through investment in secure digital solutions. 2020 saw a startling rise in cyber-attacks, as criminals sought to profit from the vulnerability of businesses in the uncertain climate. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre revealed more than a quarter of the incidents they responded to in 2020 were specifically related to Covid-19.
And the intensity of attacks is expected to continue next year. 55% of organisations are planning to increase their cybersecurity budgets for 2021, according to PwC.
Again, the connectivity channel has a critical part to play in giving UK plc the resilience and security they need. Advanced networks can give end customers greater flexibility and agility, which will empower them to respond quickly to new restrictions or crises.
Technologies such as NHCS are inherently secure because they provide point-to-point connections that are difficult to intercept.
3. Accelerated digital transformation has fueled growing interest in emerging technologies
The recent speed of digital transformation has been phenomenal. Globally, 55% of all products and services are fully or partially digitised, compared to 35% in December 2019 and just 28% in May 2018, according to McKinsey.
Most of this transformation has come from a need to meet immediate challenges produced by Covid-19 – mass homeworking, meeting increased online customer demand and transforming supply chains and operating models.
But it's also fuelled growing interest in emerging technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence. 69% of board directors are accelerating digital business initiatives as a result of the crisis, demonstrating they are more open to innovation, according to Gartner.
The connectivity channel can provide end customers with the underlying power they need to seize on next-generation technologies. Innovations like 5G will bring new latency and data densification demands that simply cannot be met by legacy networks.
Resellers and partners can make the case for new networking technologies that drive the next phase of digital transformation.
A transformative year with long-term repercussions
The pandemic has created challenges for businesses across the UK. But there are now reasons for cautious optimism.
The second national lockdown is coming to an end. Vaccines are on the horizon. Businesses are starting to see the benefits of digital transformation.
And channel partners should also look to 2021 with hope and ambition. As we've shown, they can play a key part in UK plc's rebound from Covid-19 by making the case for advanced connectivity solutions. These will be crucial in driving hybrid working, boosting organisational resilience and future-proofing businesses for the next wave of innovation.
With the right wholesale connectivity partner – one that's continually investing in its product portfolio and network – there's no reason why the channel can't prove itself indispensable in the wider economic recovery.