As 2020 draws to a close, we will all be taking some time out to reflect on what has been a year unlike anything any of us have experienced before.
This time last year, none of us could have predicted what 2020 was going to bring in the form of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
The working environment is almost unrecognisable from where we were in March 2020. Technology that used to be ‘nice to have’ became ‘must haves’ overnight. Video calling, normally reserved for speaking to your relatives in Australia once a year, became the norm. Our kitchens, bedrooms and makeshift homeworking environments were suddenly on display (until we realised we could have a Minecraft background instead). We all battled with the constant interruptions from our kids, our pets, and the endless stream of Amazon deliveries. If, like me, you entered the world of home schooling, you quickly realised just why teachers get such long holidays!
On a business level, those of us in the IT industry have been fortunate, in that it is our solutions and services that have been key to helping businesses adjust to the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for flexible and remote working has seen the acceleration of the demand for digital transformation and adoption of new technologies. At Solution Consultants, supporting clients with services to ensure ‘secure, flexible and remote working’ is going to continue to be our key focus in 2021.
Here are our thoughts on some of the key areas to consider in 2021, and how we will continue to help our customers adapt to the new way of working.
‘Professional Homeworking’ in 2021
At the beginning of lockdown, businesses had to quickly pivot and provide the basic tools for homeworking to their employees. This was often a short-term fix, but with recent reports showing how productive homeworking can be, and with many companies actively moving to a long term homeworking strategy, we believe 2021 will see the rise of more professional, secure and flexible homeworking solutions:
- We believe secure Cloud Services, such as Microsoft 365, will continue to be crucial for both individual and team productivity, and we expect to see more innovation in this space in 2021. Microsoft Teams has seen explosive growth, with the number of active daily users having increased from 20m to over 115m in the space of a year, and this continued growth will help drive the innovation that will help businesses get more value from the technology.
- IT Security has never been more important, as more devices connect to the company network. In 2021, we will be providing more services that enable effective identity management, end user education, comprehensive cyber protection, and protection from the ever-increasing number of phishing attacks that look to take advantage of fears arising from COVID-19.
- The Home Broadband providers stood up to the task well in 2020 with a massive increase in daytime traffic, but we expect more businesses to invest in better Business Grade Broadband for homeworkers in 2021. Products that enable home workers to manage their broadband more effectively and prioritise work usage such as VoIP over online gaming and movie streaming, will get a lot of traction in 2021.
- Cloud Telephony came into its own in 2020, and we believe will continue to be a key enabler for home working in 2021. With the impending Openreach Shut Down of ISDN, those businesses still using legacy on premise systems should be looking to embrace this technology. The options for businesses grew in 2020, and we believe IT suppliers such as ourselves are perfectly placed to manage the migration from the old world to the new.
- Despite services like Office 365 moving to the Cloud, many businesses have continued to run on-premises servers and applications. In 2020 we helped our customers move from the on-premise world to Microsoft Azure or equivalent SaaS offerings such as Windows Virtual Desktop. This has helped enable a more consistent user experience and been crucial in homeworkers being able to do their jobs effectively.
- One of the real challenges in 2020 was maintaining Staff Engagement and company culture across a dispersed workforce, and this will continue to be so in 2021. We expect to see more innovation from the big suppliers of Cloud Technology to help keep employees engaged, and make teamwork, collaboration, and training easier.
The key lesson we have learned in 2020, is how important technology is to businesses survival and success. Too often in our industry, the products we all provide are viewed as commodities, but this year has shown them to be the absolute lifeblood of business. In 2020, some of the eventualities that Cloud technology was built to mitigate against, actually happened.
At Solution Consultants, we believe that the Cloud is the way forward for every business, providing the solutions and services they need, and that enables our clients to develop and grow their business.
If you would like to know more about our solutions and services, please call us on 0345 3373838, or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing all our customers, suppliers and our network a very Happy Christmas, a well-earned break, and every success in 2021.