Now Is the Time for Businesses to Define the Future of Work

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Now is the time for businesses to be reassessing their workplace strategies.
  • Embracing change will bring benefits while resistance risks driving away key talent and younger employees.

The future of work is unknown, but one thing is certain: it will never be the same again.  COVID-19 lockdowns have ingrained working from home to an extent that seemed unlikely in the naïve, pre-pandemic days of 2019.  The return to the office has slowly begun, but it has been significantly delayed by the impact of new COVID-19 variants.  Another factor slowing the return to the office is resistance from employees.  This resistance is not necessarily militant, but is founded on a range of factors including freedom from the pressures of commuting, lingering health concerns, and most importantly, the fact that people have been able to do their jobs effectively while working from home.  In fact, GlobalData research shows that most companies suffered no negative effects from the implementation of work-from-home (WFH) cultures and processes, and almost half saw a productivity increase. Continue reading “Now Is the Time for Businesses to Define the Future of Work”

SASE for Enterprises in the Post-COVID World

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • SASE promises the unification of security and network routing policies.
  • To achieve a SASE methodology, enterprises need to think about both policies and technology.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the move towards cloud/SaaS adoption and work from home (WFH).  The crisis has proven that, even with rushed deployments in less than ideal circumstances, both cloud and WFH are efficacious ways of doing business.  However, they are not without challenges, and one of the biggest challenges is how to architect and secure networks when dealing with a more distributed IT estate – particularly given the significant increase in cyberattacks that has occurred during the pandemic. Continue reading “SASE for Enterprises in the Post-COVID World”

Digital Acceleration – For When Digital Transformation Is Too Slow

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:          

  • Digital acceleration implements short-term tactical changes over longer-term strategic projects.
  • Digital acceleration is a response to changing customer demands, not just COVID-19.

Digital transformation has been an industry catchphrase for some time now.  Its definition is both vague and changeable, but it speaks to using technology to improve internal processes within an enterprise to deliver cost savings and/or improved performance.  It encompasses a wide range of technologies including cloud, SD-WAN, collaboration, IoT, 5G, blockchain, AI, and SaaS. 

However, there is a new buzz phrase on the block: digital acceleration.  So, is there a difference between digital transformation and digital acceleration?  The ‘helpful’ answer to that is ‘yes and no.’  The intentions of both digital transformation and digital acceleration are the same, as are the technologies involved.  The big difference is in methodology. Continue reading “Digital Acceleration – For When Digital Transformation Is Too Slow”

Should Network Underlay Still Matter to Enterprises?

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Network underlay matters less than it used to, but should not be ignored by enterprises.
  • Overlay network technologies offer many benefits, but cannot cure all potential network problems.

SD-WAN has seen significant adoption in the enterprise network services market in very little time. The reason is that it allows enterprises to unify previously disparate networks while also delivering increased network management and control, security, and application performance benefits – even over internet connections. One of the ways this is accomplished is by deploying overlay networking technology which combines software control systems and network tunneling techniques that are agnostic of the physical infrastructure over which the data is carried. The reality is that these finer details matter a lot less to enterprises than factors such as reliability, performance, and service/application availability – and rightly so. Continue reading “Should Network Underlay Still Matter to Enterprises?”

SD-WAN for Homeworkers: Prohibitively Expensive or a Realistic Option?

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Homeworking has changed the dynamic for SD-WAN, which usually relies on physical or virtualized CPE at the corporate site, but options are available for those working from home.
  • Hardware-based solutions for homeworkers are falling in price, but may only be suitable for ‘power users.’

A growing number of SD-WAN technology vendors and network service providers (SPs) have either launched or have stated that they are developing SD-WAN solutions for homeworkers.  These usually come in two forms: small form-factor SD-WAN routers or software clients. Continue reading “SD-WAN for Homeworkers: Prohibitively Expensive or a Realistic Option?”

Joined-Up Utilities: How Collaboration Services Can Deliver Safety and Efficiency Benefits

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Collaboration technology can ensure that resources are deployed in the most effective way and help reduce maintenance issues and accidents.
  • Collaboration technology should be interwoven with other technologies such as corporate applications and IoT and contact center platforms.

Increasingly extreme environmental conditions ranging from wildfires and droughts in North America and Australia to heightened instances of flooding in Europe and China have all been in the news in recent times and are symptomatic of ever more extreme climatic conditions.  Utilities need to keep power and water available to the population in these circumstances while also meeting demands to generate power through less carbon-intensive means. Continue reading “Joined-Up Utilities: How Collaboration Services Can Deliver Safety and Efficiency Benefits”

Microsoft’s Azure Communication Services Launch Challenges OTT/CPaaS Vendors & MSPs and Gives Enterprises New Options

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises should be aware that Azure Communication Services will let them plug features such as SMS and voice and video calling into other applications and services.
  • Azure Communication Services offers security through its layered structure and can be integrated with Azure AI features.

What Is Azure Communication Services?

Azure Communications Services (ACS) is Microsoft’s decision to open up the platform that underpins services such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 as a managed service/API and SDK library. ACS is launching with a set of features that closely mirrors the core capabilities of Microsoft Teams. This is essentially because the features being offered are the blocks used to build the Teams platform. Customers will be able to integrate PSTN calling, IP voice and video, SMS, and individual and group chat functionality which includes content sharing and message history. Continue reading “Microsoft’s Azure Communication Services Launch Challenges OTT/CPaaS Vendors & MSPs and Gives Enterprises New Options”

What Do Businesses Need to Do to Support Homeworkers?

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • In COVID-19 times and the aftermath, enterprises need to think about both collaboration and connectivity.
  • Businesses should consider talking to their telecoms and/or IT providers about developing a new digital transformation strategy.

The COVID-19 crisis looks set to carry on into at least the early part of 2021, and with new restrictions coming into place in many countries to prevent a ‘second wave,’ many employees and employers could easily be facing another six months of staff working from home. Furthermore, many large global enterprises have already indicated that homeworking will be the norm for the long term. So, how should enterprises respond? Continue reading “What Do Businesses Need to Do to Support Homeworkers?”

COVID-19: The Crisis Has Underlined the Need for Omnichannel Contact Centers

G. Barton
G. Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • Omnichannel delivers an enhanced and consistent customer experience.
  • Omnichannel should include social media, mobile apps, and video.

The COVID-19 crisis has set the contact center at the epicenter of the customer contact process. While the trend has been slowly moving away from interactions between businesses and clients at brick-and-mortar branches, the COVID crisis lockdown took away the in-person option for almost all circumstances in one move. The result is a widely varied mix of experiences, but for most organizations, it has been a disjointed one. This is understandable, as the first priority in the early stages of COVID-19 was just to make sure a minimum viable level of customer contact was achieved. But we are now moving gradually out of lockdown and GlobalData’s research makes clear that companies are now reassessing their IT strategies. For the contact center, this means that many organizations are looking to move away from legacy platforms. As they do so, the question becomes: What next? Continue reading “COVID-19: The Crisis Has Underlined the Need for Omnichannel Contact Centers”

COVID-19: Phase Two, Long-Term IT Strategies

Gary Barton – Analyst, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Digital transformation strategies will play a crucial role in how companies respond to and recover from the COVID19 crisis and all enterprises should be working on their strategy now

• The cloud has demonstrated that it is a resilient and flexible technology that will enable enterprises to respond to COVID-19 and other future emergencies

Most enterprises have considered and deployed their initial response to COVID-19 which has been to deliver at least a minimum viable IT solution to the sudden shift to remote working. Enterprises are now looking at phase two: how do businesses create IT infrastructure that will support the ‘new normal’ that emerges in a post COVID-19 world? Continue reading “COVID-19: Phase Two, Long-Term IT Strategies”