Cloud ⍺ Series #4: Creatively Disrupting the Disruptor: COVID-19

13 March 2020

Many leaders are commenting that they are seeing an upsurge in the use of business tools and services in the last few weeks.

According to American customer service software company Zendesk’s Benchmark Snapshot, of the 23,000 companies that use their services, the three (3) biggest industries that have seen spikes in support requests since late February are restaurants (230%), grocery brands (160%), and remote work and learning (150%).

On-premise networks are often not able to cope with a sudden rise in users accessing company applications, as the quality of network resources comes under severe pressures.

Meanwhile, here at home, there have been a few reports of organisations experiencing big jumps in traffic during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, putting strain to their network and resources, and necessitating an overnight infrastructure upgrade. TM One as the nation’s digital enabler for enterprises and public sector, have played our part in helping our customers, to weather challenges whenever and wherever required.

COVID-19 – the ultimate disruptor

Research analyst firm IDC last year found that around 80% of Malaysian businesses have yet to be part of the digital transformation journey. Will it be different in the aftermath of COVID-19? As it stands, we are witnessing many businesses disrupted from their status quo and begin to embrace digitalisation – although out of necessity more than discretionary.

Nonetheless, we should be positive about the future of Malaysian economy. History has shown us that in times of crisis, human ingenuity rises up to meet even the toughest challenges. The emergence of a new normal in the way people and businesses work, operate and live today shows that we are able to adapt to the most rapidly changing and disruptive environment.

Of course, the extent to which each entity is able to cope with the disruption and challenges vary. As part of consulting firm PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Survey, it found that companies are able to not only survive in times of crisis, but also emerge even stronger in the aftermath, as a result of being prepared and having effective stakeholder communications.

It also found that these companies become stronger due to having supported by data-driven decision making. Having a big data initiative in place ensures that businesses can respond effectively and swiftly, based on dynamically evolving set of data.

Business continuity

Analyst firms such as Omdia (formerly Ovum) expects Malaysian businesses will view the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst to sharpen their business continuity measures and change the way they do business.

Ideally, enterprises should have a specific pandemic-focused business continuity plan already prepared, says the Omdia report, but – as an alternative – repurposing an existing one that covers “civic emergencies” should suffice.

“The plan should incorporate a tiered response, clearly identifying the actions to be taken at each level and the circumstances that would trigger implementation of the next level,” notes the document.

The Watershed Moment

Remote/home workers will need to connect to their business applications, data, and other services to have any semblance of normal working. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a common practice, although it exacerbates the issue of internet bandwidth - and often becomes the bottleneck, according to network specialists.

The bottom line is that COVID-19 is a watershed moment. The overnight adoption of working from home is the most dramatic disruption of our times.

A recent survey found that 49 percent of workers have never worked from home. As we move forward in the coming months and years, this new paradigm will become mainstream. All the appropriate technologies, and cloud infrastructure services are already on hand to ensure companies can operate from both home and the office.

In his closing remarks of LEAP Summit last year, Ahmad Taufek Omar, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of TM One said: “Every disruption pivots on creativity – a new vision, a new insight of how technology can uplift people and their goals onto a more agile, faster path.”

Quite simply, there is a cultural shift underway and one which is expected to last beyond post-COVID-19.

Ahmad Taufek also commented on the cultural changes required for digitalisation during an interview last year, "Culture is a critical factor underlying a successful transformation. Mindsets form just one element within the culture. Today, it is crucial that we ensure people’s mindsets are primed and ready for the digital journey. Companies, whether they are big or small, must be ready to change their mindsets to stay relevant and to adapt to the new order of the economy."

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