- Mohammed Asif
Standing on my 10th floor roof top, looking around the city; thousands of buildings, roads, flyover, power plant, shops, and vehicles on roads, everything made by human are there, but the irony is human movement is missing. Covid19 outbreak has dawdling and to some extend hold the move of life as well as civilization,and our worldat an unprecedented scale – it seems and feel bizarre. But we, human being has survived in many gigantic obstacles since thousands of years. With immense collective knowledge and our will-power we will find ways to survive in this pandemic era.Certainly, technology is playing a pronounced role in this survival and growth exercise.
Technology has already made significant improvement in our business, production, education, public sector and in our life style. We are badly habituated with mobile phone, internet and online activities. A recent online survey has revealed that online and digital activities has been increased since last few months of Covid19 outbreak such as watching movie and shows in steaming media by 57%, spending 47% more time on social media and 36% more time on mobile apps.
Although, it seems that the epidemic has slowed down or stoppage digital transformation journey of many organization and business but the fact is technology has the magical ability to help business and people transform in puzzling situation like epidemic. Digital transformation has become more compelling now for large enterprises to small-medium companies, Govt. dept.’s to education, healthcare, livestock, agriculture, media and for many other sectors. Let’s look few key areas of technology that will help business and lives sustain and grow.
- Presence in virtual world
Since we have to maintain social distancing and it will continue few months or even few years,we need to be connected more virtually and thus online communication among people in business has increased dramatically. Organization and their employees need to access application and data from their home or remote places and hence collaboration is not limiting among people to people only, it is also involving digital assets on virtual space.
Online communication, collaboration and virtual work environment has become essential, new normal. Even large conference, public events are happening online. Digital communications have flown among political parties, corporate offices, school, colleges, organizations, even multi-nation’s government conferences across the world after the lockdown. In Bangladesh recently judicial activities of high-courts are conducting virtually. Banking, hospitality and various service sectors are adopting online meeting, text chat, audio and video call,and remote access to devices to remain productive. It is anticipated, even the Corona virus spreading end-up, more people will become use to in these online services and wanted to keep the online service facilities available or ready to use as and while require. Microsoft has recently reported Microsoft Teams jumps 70 percent to 75 million daily active users and another report says Zoom’s daily users’ increased to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million. These reports of online C&C tools usages certainly demonstrating how fast business communication are shifting to virtual workplace.
- Digitizing whatsoever possible
Bangladesh has made significant progress in digital transformation in few areas like internet penetration, mobile financial services, digital banking services, mobile connectivity, e-commerce and other sectors. However, one of the key elements of successful digital transformation is automate the work processes. Once you develop process, you need sufficient amount of data into the system to get tangible benefit of automation. Unfortunately, there are ample amount of paper files and manual data available, yet to be digitized.
In this Covid19 epidemic, one of the biggest challenge for IT department is how they can make files and data available to users when they are working from home or remotely. Now a day’s most applications are web-based and can provision to user devices, up to handy mobile devices. But if the hard copy of files and data still resides in office and warehouse, automation thru high-class application become useless. Hence converting manual data into digital form has become more relevant now for business, education and public services. Digitized data can be stored in local storage system, in own data centers or plenty of storage services available in public cloud.
- Uniting with Analytics
Pandemic is not only a health crisis, it’s a major economic crisis where there is hardly any industry found which has not been effected. The healthcare services including pharmaceuticals are also effected as they need to focus on expansion of hospital services and new category of drugs production. If we ask any business owner or C-level executive, they all will have major concern of how they will keep their employees engage to remain productive, how their sales team can interact with customers, execute deals and supply chain to ensure supply from their backward linkages. Optimizing operational cost like establishment and facilities maintenance is another headache for them. To address all these concerns, all they need is to have right information in their hand at right time in right format which is possible thru business analytics.
Data analytics can play vital role for business in this pandemic. Data analysis organize, interprets, structure and present data into useful information and context that helps to make smarter business decisions. By gathering raw data from across the business and logically processing those into compatible formats, organization can get real-time insights about sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, customer service, product development, and other processes. For example analyzing sales information of a group of customers of previous 5-years a company can find out top 100 customers in different parameter and can offer them special pricing or services in the economic recession moment. Large enterprise and organization may afford big data or machine learning based BI solution for their analytics needs and SMEs and mid-size organization can also take advantage of analytics by building data analytics capabilities using various online tools to practice data-driven decisions in business.
- Flying to the Cloud
High demand of IT services has established public cloud computing services since last few years and it’s growing intensely. As Cloud Solutions are feeding the need of speed,developed/advanced countries are noticeably ahead of adopting cloud. Cloud technologies are being used to improve customer support/service, replacing legacy/proprietary technologies, saving on CAPEX, and many other business areas. In an IDG survey of European market, it is found that 30% of all organization IT budgets are allocated to cloud computing in 2018, while most being used for SaaS IaaS and PaaS and 48% of all organizations said the cloud is forcing them to rethink their IT organizational structure. In recent epidemic, giant cloud services has grown-up; time spending in Facebook and other social media has increased 50% and Netflix has doubled the number of new subscriber in last three months. High volume of transactions in online shopping shows business are growing into the cloud.
In Bangladesh context, people has mindset that moving their application and data into cloud can put their business in high risk because of the fear of visibility and control. Organizations who are undecided and hesitate to move into cloud, now after this pandemic, realizing benefits and value of using cloud service. Setting up new data center or increasing data center capacity is not only expensive but also need human engagement in physical locations. Moreover, while current situation demanding to digitize vast amount of manual data and automate more business processes, building high capacity DWH, DC or DR site is not a wise decision to increase CapEx investment, indeed.
There is no alternate but Cloud computing industry to emerge to serve the significant need of IT services. From the aspect of what workloads to move into cloud, organizations need to assess and identify within their Infrastructure such as network, security and management services in parallel to moving business applications and data. Perhaps there could be issues to maintain on-premise IT services where organization can take the approach of hybrid-model cloud considering security, regulations, compliance and skilled resources to manage.
COVID-19 continues to spread across the countries and around the world and the unforeseen epidemic is forcing us to change the way we live and conduct business. Obviously digital transformation is playing pivotal role to experience the new world. Technology eventually helping people in Quarantine and social distancing practice and simultaneously to their livelihood as many business will sustain and even scale up by speeding up their digital transformation journey. All that business and organization need from the technology providers is to deliver more digital services in a secure and apposite fashion to make their life restored and move ahead.
The author is an IT business professional and Ex-Director of Microsoft Bangladesh. Currently he is serving as a Consultant for Cloud business development in RobiAxiata.
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