From Covid to the cloud: how necessity is driving priceless invention in three business sectors
More and more organisations are reporting that the sudden shift to remote and hybrid working in 2020 and 2021 has led to greater efficiency. But is that really the case?
The latest report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) investigates whether the shift to digital technology has really encouraged growth.
The answer? A resounding yes. Cebr’s analysis shows that the digital transformation driven by Covid-19 can accelerate the UK’s rebound from the pandemic. In fact, we’re looking at a £76bn boost to the UK economy throughout the recovery period from 2021 to 2025.
Let’s take a look at how all that opportunity trickles down to three particular industry sectors. And how the businesses that are thriving are the ones that are taking maximum advantage of the cloud.
More responsive professional services
In the professional services sector, decision-makers told the Cebr that the pandemic accelerated technology adoption by an average of 2.6 years.
In the past two years, legal and professional services have become increasingly digitalised, turning to technology to become more cloud-based.
So, in an industry that has traditionally relied on face-to-face interaction, technology is changing – and enhancing – the game.
For instance, law firms are joining up the front and back office to give solicitors the chance to digitally process documents themselves, speeding up customer service and creating seamless delivery.
Other businesses are investigating technology like chatbots and smart checkouts to enhance the customer experience.
By keeping customer information in the cloud, enterprises are making sure that employees can access the info they need, whenever they need it.
That means if a customer ever gets in touch with an issue, the call handler can see the chain of events that have led to their problem. They’re empowered to deal with it quickly and effectively.
The result? More empowered employees, better service and happier customers. The experience is enhanced for everyone.
It’s a similar picture in the retail sector, where Covid disruption has introduced a number of unprecedented opportunities.
During lockdown, millions of people across the UK relied on online shopping and home delivery not just for luxuries but for essentials.
Consumers have become used to seamless shopping experiences, and want to carry on experiencing the same convenience. Retailers are realising that full cloud adoption is the best way forward.
They can harness the Internet of Things to support smart checkouts, use mobile stock monitoring and introduce mobile point of sale hubs.
Customers want to push the experience further, looking for the ease and convenience of the virtual world in the real world. More and more retailers are exploring the possibilities of checkout-free stores, for example.
At the same time, retailers face all the challenges of Brexit and a demanding supply chain. By harnessing cloud, they can gain more visibility of stock and deliveries, to make just-in-time deliveries and keep stores supplied.
Building a joined-up future for construction
The Cebr report also shows that the construction sector is moving towards digital transformation. In fact, digital transformation is set to drive a £4bn boost to the sector by 2040.
The sector is ripe for change. Workforces are often deployed across a range of different sites, and a lot of projects can be short-term.
By harnessing the connectivity of cloud, as well as flexible collaboration contracts for mobile and fixed lines, businesses can gain more visibility and control.
It’s vital that a construction business stays well-connected. Even the simplest of projects can involve many stakeholders, all of whom need to be kept in the loop.
By turning to the cloud, businesses can see much more joined up communication, from remote sites through to the main office.
Field-based digital tools enable team members to monitor and report on site progress, raise and action electronic forms and communicate instantly. All from a mobile phone, and with minimal training.
Back at head office, key personnel can review progress without having to visit sites. That saves time and cuts back on petrol miles too.
There are even greater opportunities for a fully cloud-connected construction company. Imagine Augmented Reality visors for workers that display holograms of building schematics, ensuring greater accuracy in every task.
How to rise to the opportunity
Across each of the three sectors, many organisations have accelerated their cloud adoption to adopt hybrid working practices. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024, at least 40% of all remote access usage will be by zero trust network access, up from just 5% in 2020.
This means that organisations are now relying on resiliency and the ability to migrate applications more than ever before.
Yet their cloud infrastructure has become extremely complex. 90% of organisations said they experienced difficulties when moving to cloud, with 43% citing complexity as their main headache.
Which leads to the catch-22: you know a different kind of network could reduce complexity and power growth, but you have to wade through incredible complexity to get there.
A modern network like SD-WAN changes all that. Created with the cloud in mind, SD-WAN helps ensure a more efficient network, by helping prioritise traffic to and across cloud service providers and branches, offices and remote sites. It may not be a quick and easy fix, but it is true digital transformation. And transformation implies doing a little more than simply flicking a switch.
But with today’s SD-WAN networks, you don’t have to replace everything all at once. You can implement change step by step, feeling the incremental benefits over time without any significant risk or disruption to your business.
So, if you’re worried about whether you can keep up with the pace of change, the first place to look may be the network.
Get that right and you’ll be able to evolve in a way that matches your ambition.