Why connectivity is key to the Covid-19 rebound - The EE

Why connectivity is key to the Covid-19 rebound

No one could have predicted what 2020 would bring. The pandemic has forced leaders to rethink how they run their businesses from supporting remote working for employees to enabling a first-class experience for consumers relying on online channels more than ever before.

With social distancing now part of everyday life and consumers continuing to buy online, these pivots will need to be sustained over the long term. As Andrew Halliwellproduct director, Virgin Media Business Connectivity says, infrastructure has a vital role to play in helping businesses survive and thrive.

Digital acceleration

Since lockdown began, businesses have accelerated their digitisation plans. Nearly half of the UK workforce has started working remotely since April. Online retail has surged by a whopping 129% across the UK and Europe, with consumers spending nearly a third more on digital channels as a result of the pandemic.

The shift has been fast and wide-ranging. To adapt, businesses must invest in firm foundations that allow them to cope with greater online demand and support flexible working, getting employees collaborating and driving projects forward.

Networks are fundamental to this transformation. They have been the invisible force behind the conference calls, instant messenger chats and file-sharing that have got businesses through this unprecedented period. This isn’t going to change as the lockdown loosens.

The good news is leaders are recognising networks’ new-found importance and are showing a willingness to invest. Global spending on digital infrastructure is projected to grow by 5.3% in 2020 and software investments by 1.7%.

But there are traps to avoid. Investing in the wrong solutions could result in businesses acquiring technology that isn’t optimised for these new ways of working, or that doesn’t come with the right security software, leaving them fatally exposed.

The technology businesses really need are those that give them greater flexibility and control without requiring them to rip out their systems and start all over again.

A tricky dilemma

Faced with all these challenges, business leaders might be scratching their heads. How can they meet the needs of the “new normal” more flexible, powerful and resilient infrastructure without disrupting their everyday operations even further? Is this even possible?

The good news is that from business growth to organisational resilience, advanced connectivity technologies offer solutions without the hassle of a complex set-up. These will give businesses the power to quickly set up in new locations, introduce new services, respond to shifts in working practices and even expand into new markets.

This will bring benefits to customers and employees alike. What’s more, they can be embedded within an organisation incrementally, without needing to involve lots of heavy disruption, which businesses can ill afford right now.

Software Defined Wider Area Networks (SD-WAN) is an example of an advanced connectivity solution that provides flexibility, control and security all of which are crucial to implementing remote working effectively and responding to shifting customer demands.

Whether an enterprise is looking to flex their operational estate, move front office contact centre staff to back office or accelerating digital engagement with customers, SD-WAN technology provides an agile business network that enables business leaders to pivot and adapt as necessary.

Andrew Halliwell

Better yet, when solutions like this are implemented with the support of a strategic partner, businesses will benefit from consultancy support and advice on where exactly the solution should be implemented, how it should be introduced and how it should be configured to best meet their needs helping them get the most from it.

What makes these solutions even more important for enterprises is the security they offer. Network security is no longer just about the number of protective layers between networks and customer data but it’s now about who is accessing the information and where they’re doing this from.

Robust digital infrastructure, such as SD-WAN, can respond to these needs by providing end-to-end data encryption to all customers.

While not all SD-WANs come with this level of support, with the right strategic partner and solution, organisations can benefit from network infrastructure which authenticates every user against every app, providing system managers and business leaders with peace of mind, empowering them to focus on making the big decisions that will mean they prosper in the “new normal”.

A connected rebound

As we move into the economic rebound phase, it’s more important than ever for organisations to put in place the right networking technology to meet their needs.

Ultimately, if they get this right, connectivity that can set them free without compromising fundamental business resilience. It provides the fuel for digitising, helping them to rebound and thrive post-pandemic.

The author is Andrew Halliwell, product director, Virgin Media Business.

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