Peter Flischman, Head of Cloud Integration, Axiz.
Remote work and the cloud – these days the two concepts seem linked at the hip. The rapid transition to remote work, and later to hybrid workplaces, would not have gone so smoothly without cloud support. In fact, they might have been impossible to achieve. When we talk about cloud, we are talking about a technological era that combines connectivity, efficient computing resources and more alternatives for user access. These three factors are the main enablers of remote work.
Yet while remote work needs the cloud, it has also become the cloud’s biggest evangelist, says Peter Flischman, head of cloud integration at Axiz: “A lot of companies had, and some still have, a limited view of what the cloud can do for them. By that I mean most of them view the cloud as backup and remote storage. We We know the cloud can do so much more, but it’s been hard to get the message across. What’s happened since then is that remote work highlights the different use cases, both at front and back of business. It’s a whole new conversation.
What types of use cases are getting their attention? Many encourage indirect applications of cloud solutions, such as WhatsApp’s growing appeal as a business tool. The courier service quickly became a favored communication channel with customers and between employees. But this trend creates significant security risks.
“It is inevitable that sensitive and confidential documents and information will flow through these channels,” says Flischman. “How do you control that if most interactions take place outside of your company’s systems? That’s where cloud security becomes popular – it can track the user and the device.”
Companies are adopting the same security strategy to manage a growing army of personal devices of users enlisted in remote and hybrid work. Convenience is also on the table: features such as single sign-on spanning different services, digital signature for documents, and “offline” snapshots that prevent connectivity outages from interrupting a worker’s flow, help people to stay more productive, wherever they are.
Remote workers are putting pressure on enterprise systems to stay online, so more and more companies are now considering placing these systems in multicloud environments to create constant availability. Many are also turning to “basic” IT services that they subscribe to but no longer have to own or maintain extensively, such as email and file sharing.
Then there’s the cultural pressure to create an environment that supports remote working. According to recruitment agency Michael Page South Africa, 53% of employees would like to work remotely at least three days a week, and 33% want to work at least one day a week outside the office. This means potential employees review remote work policies when choosing a new employer. And hybrid workplaces are good for most businesses: more people are satisfied with their jobs than before, and 63% reported increased productivity.
Helping businesses adopt the cloud
But why did it take a shift to remote and hybrid working to drive cloud adoption? Flischman blames complex choices.
“The cloud offers a lot of choice, but this variety also creates confusion and risk. So you have someone telling you the cloud is good, and then you decide to migrate your core business systems to a cloud service. Many then discover that it’s complicated and difficult, and they don’t come close to the results they expected. Remote work has helped create more pragmatic reasons and steps for using the cloud. I think we were all so stuck on the big picture that we didn’t know where to go to find the details. Remote work changes all that.”
That doesn’t mean cloud adoption has become easy. There are still a lot of risky decisions, so Flischman suggests businesses start small: “Get rid of the on-premises PABX and use a cloud phone service. Migrate your employees to cloud-based email and calendar suites. Use a platform like Teams to integrate various other services, such as CRM and project management apps. These may seem like small steps, but they will translate into easy wins that will also give you a better understanding of how the cloud can fit into your business. »
It also emphasizes building the capacity of the technology market to deliver cloud products. Many technology vendors do not have the skills to competently deliver cloud services, nor the resources to develop that capability. It is essential to develop a local channel capable of delivering cloud solutions. To bridge this gap, Flischman recommends that distribution companies find partners who will help them develop their cloud acumen.
“Channel companies should talk to their distributors and find out how those partners can support their cloud development. This can be financial or certification support. Sometimes you want a channel partner who can sit down with you and your customer, to advise you on cloud strategies.It can even be as simple as accessing a cloud marketplace where you can combine services for your customers.But if your channel partners don’t help you build your capacity to provide cloud solutions in the market, start looking for another partner.”
The cloud era has been gaining momentum for several years. Yet remote work is creating a huge shift in how organizations view and embrace cloud solutions. Guided by a more pragmatic view of what the cloud can deliver, it just got a little easier to make the right cloud investment choices for your organization and your customers.