Challenges in a post COVID-19 world
The global COVID-19 pandemic has become one of the biggest calamities in recent times. The pandemic has prompted almost every country in the world to go into damage control mode to protect their citizens. The experience as customers, employees, citizens, and humans has changed forever, and our attitudes and behaviors are changing as a result. In addition, IT workforces globally have switched to work from home. In this crisis, cloud companies suddenly are the backbone of a global virtual learning and collaboration experiment. While the Internet backbone has long been a lifeline and reached over half the world’s population in 2019, without scalable cloud services, the current disaster would be unimaginably worse.
Fortunately, cloud companies are weathering the pandemic stress test caused by the sudden spike in workloads and waves of new, inexperienced users. The magnitude of demand surge has led cloud providers to prioritize COVID-19-related workloads and place tighter caps on its free cloud service offerings for new users. For the cloud, COVID-19 is just a busy day at the virtual office. In fact, cloud companies’ confidence in their ability to scale even further to support many more users forced to work and learn from home is so great, that some are offering free collaboration and conferencing services for those impacted by COVID-19, including some promising free services for the remainder of 2020.
In this crisis, secure cloud architectures are essential for not only large enterprises and governments, but for all small, medium, Private government and institutional bodies. Protecting against malware and viruses of the computer variety may not appear to be as deadly as COVID-19, but cyberattacks on WHO’s COVID-19 efforts (fortunately of limited impact, so far) among others could have devastating consequences. The security & elasticity offered by Cloud is unmatched. Cloud not only helps enterprises to scale up their workloads but also offers them high availability to ensure continuity of operations even during these testing times. The collaboration and video-conferencing platform offered have been used extensively by educational institutions, governments and corporates as a means of regular communication during these tough times. Cloud is the only enabler for enterprise IT operations during these unprecedented times.
This paper discusses various challenges that enterprises are faced with due to the spread of COVID-19 and how cloud is acting as an enabler for enterprise IT operations.
Enterprise Risks Worldwide from COVID-19
The effects of the pandemic – as the World Health Organization declared officially on March 11 — are predictable. The impact on our organizations, customers, vendors, and communities is tangible. Even so, there is a natural tendency for panic to arise.
The Coronavirus is exactly the type of fast-emerging risk with uncertain consequences that can be ignored until it’s too late for traditional escalation procedures to be effective. When initial reports of a lockdown started to come in from China, most organizations in the West had weeks to act on this information but
“Gartner research shows that an agile response occurred far more often when clear processes already existed.”
chose to wait and see.
Gartner research shows that an agile response occurred far more often when clear processes already existed to report & escalate absences or issues due to infectious diseases. In other words, a proactive ERM team had already set the threshold for escalation quite low to account for potentially extensive consequences of the risk if no action occurred.
Organizations are trying their level best to keep employees productive and taking proactive steps to prepare themselves, if this unforeseen situation continues for a bit longer. Enterprise Business Risks currently faced by organizations and leading to disruptions in the normal day-to-day operations are as follows:
Risk 1: Disruption Due to Social Distancing and Lockdowns
Social distancing is a term applied to certain actions suggested by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing also disallows the aggregation of more than 5-10 people at a single location. To curtail the spread of the pandemic, governments around the world have provided guidelines to people to adhere to social distancing. Most business events and travel have been cancelled during this peak period. Governments of all major economies are under lockdown to contain the impact of the pandemic.
As the economy slows down, some industries are more impacted than others. It’s just a few players in the online learning and entertainment space that are doing well, with most people locked up at home.
Risk 2: Plummeting Employee Productivity
The pandemic has affected all business sectors directly or indirectly.
It is estimated that around 40%-60% organizational staff during the Lockdown period will be unable to work properly due to non-accessibility of their working premises
Also, at most IT companies, more than 90% of the employees have been enabled to work from home. This has affected the overall margins of major IT companies. All manufacturing, travel, aviation & hospitality services are experiencing a complete halt of operations and suffering huge losses because of the same.
Risk 3: Stressed Supply Chains
The global economy is still highly integrated and most countries and companies rely on vendors for their business. From pharmaceutical raw materials to electronics and other consumer products, there will likely be purchasing delays. Transport sector has been impacted due to sealed borders. Companies are not able to get their raw materials lifted from the ports due to shortage of transportation and lockdown for nonessential materials. Heavy equipment and manufacturing supply chains have come to a standstill due to lockdowns in various regions of the world including movement of goods. Stressed supply chains have also led to a decrease in consumption of oil and this has led to decreasing demand of crude oil in the global market. The Global oil prices fell to 0.1 $ per barrel on April 20 due to non-demand of petroleum products as all major nations were under lockdown. The world witnessed disruptions across all major supply chains halting the movement of goods.
Risk 4: Recession, Unemployment and Investment Pullback
The economic engine of growth is driven by continuous investment as well as consumption. Experts are uncertain whether a COVID-19 vaccine will be available before the first quarter of 2021. Investments have been negatively impacted by uncertainty and corporations have started to prepare for strategies to mitigate the impact of the situation on revenues and will likely cut back growth investments. This will likely contribute to a rapid rise in unemployment, as fewer investments will result in job losses. There may be significant layoffs at existing businesses in the “second wave” of COVID-19 that may surge again in the third quarter. Majority of corporates are taking decisions to do away with salary hikes for this year. Some companies in the consulting business have even declared pay-cuts during this period. During the period of March, unemployment numbers in the US stood at a whopping 22 million.
"Per a survey conducted by CMIE, India’s unemployment percentage rose to 23.4% in the week that ended on April, 5th 2020"
Risk 5: Economic Instability and Civil Unrest
Economists suggest that the world economy may contract for the first time since the 1970s. As the coronavirus spreads around the world, stock markets have experienced their worst crash since 1987. Many countries with large economies, such as Italy and Spain, have enacted quarantine policies. This has led to the disruption of business activities in many economic sectors. Except pharma and consumer goods companies, all other industries’ operations have come to halt. Civil unrest has been reported in the US and across other parts of the country due to enforcement of lockdown in all major economies.
Cloud as an Enabler for Managing Enterprises in the COVID-19 Realm
The effort to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic puts cloud computing at center stage for many organizations. COVID-19 has forced millions of people to work remotely. It is hard to imagine a world without cloud technology. At no other point in time has there been such a need for the instant availability of IT resources, enabled by the cloud, than during this coronavirus pandemic. The cloud continues to transform connectivity between people and businesses on a global scale. Today, organizations that do not embrace cloud technology adoption have put themselves at a significant disadvantage in terms of profitability, speed, and agility. Their ability to recover from unforeseen disasters is affected and they cannot react anywhere near as quickly to events within the market as competitors.
Some of the key areas where cloud will prove to be a differentiator in the future are highlighted below:
This can severely hamper business success and lead to the situation of being phased out of the market within a matter of years.
Key enablers that cloud offers Enterprises during COVID-19
Every industry has already taken a financial hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for enterprise software providers to go the extra mile for their customers across all industries and help them recover and grow again. Empowering customers in their time of need by freely providing remote collaboration tools, secure endpoint solutions, cloud-based storage, and CRM systems, is an investment in the community that every software company needs to make.
Cloud has been one of the enablers for enterprise during these testing times. From collaboration, virtual meetings, video conferencing, unlimited expandable storage, anywhere access, elasticity and expandability to secure architecture, cloud has been pivotal for a majority of enterprises by helping them stay resilient during these tough times. Many organizations that were apprehensive about moving to cloud now consider this a preferred option.
Amit Raj Singh
Head – Cloud Business, India,
Amit Raj is the Head of Cloud business for Wipro, India. He has around 16 years of experience around Practice, Presales & Sales for Cloud & Infrastructure Services. Amit possesses a strong understanding of IT Security, Infrastructure Services & Managed Services business.
Amit Raj Singh can be reached at email@example.com
Dr. Gurbinder Randhawa
Consulting Partner – India,
GCG, Wipro Limited
Gurbinder Randhawa is a Consulting Partner in the Consulting Business for Wipro, India. Gurbinder has over 18 years of Consulting and Management experience across Public and Enterprise verticals. Her areas of specialization include Cloud Consulting, Program Management, ERP Consulting, Cost Optimization, Thought leadership, Solution Theme Building, Practice, and Business Development, and Revenue Generation.
She has written POVs on various topics covering Artificial Intelligence, Fraud Detection in GST, Trillion Dollar Economy, and Digital Economy.
Gurbinder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Consulting Partner – India,
Consulting Business, Wipro Limited
Nikhil Goel is a Consulting Partner Digital in the Global Consulting Business for Wipro. He has over 22 years of Consulting and Advisory experience across Public and Private Businesses. His areas of specialization include Digital Strategy, AI Strategy & Consulting, as well as Thought leadership, with an objective to transform business outcomes. He has authored several white papers and points of view on various topics covering Artificial Intelligence in effective Customer Personalization, Risk, Banking, Digital Supply Chain, and Warehouse Automation.
Nikhil can be reached at email@example.com