Virgin Media Business

Driving the business rebound in 2021

13 January 2021 | Mike Smith

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Mike Smith

Blog Author | Guest contributor

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Uncertainty was a driving force in 2020 and it's unlikely to go away anytime soon. However, as Mike Smith, managing director (direct) at Virgin Media Business explains, digitalisation is key for the uncertainty that still lies ahead

The pandemic has transformed how we all use technology; it has ushered in a new everyday powered by connectivity.

While there was widespread enthusiasm for remote working before the Covid-19 crisis, take-up was limited.

A study from Deloitte found that more than six in 10 young people had a positive view of remote work in spring 2020, with seven in 10 Millennials and two thirds of Generation Z admitting that remote work helps to relieve stress.

Last year accelerated the shift to remote working, and as we’ve lived with it, the general sentiment towards it has improved. Our customer research found that mobile working is now a technology priority for 80% of large enterprises. 

The Government has been clear that remote working should continue where possible, advice that is likely to remain in place for some months to come. When staff start to return to their workplaces in small numbers, this won’t mean reverting to the pre-lockdown norm of everyday office working.

More likely is a move to a hybrid, “operate from anywhere” model, in which employees collaborate across multiple locations – whether their desk at home, the office, or a socially distanced café. If executed in the right way, we could see working life become much more fluid and empowering for an organisation’s people.

But to meet these demands and to connect workers operating across multiple locations seamlessly and securely, business leaders will need to continue investing in solutions that are flexible and resilient enough to support massive data flows.

This advanced connectivity infrastructure will enable organisations to improve business elasticity and strength, while providing staff with the tools they need to excel. This will be key to implementing the hybrid working model in the right way.

Promisingly, leaders are showing willingness to invest in these technologies and infrastructure. An analysis of more than 120 UK IT leaders revealed that over one third have made cloud a priority investment, while our research into large enterprises showed that more than 80% want to improve network capacity.

But to make this hybrid model a success and fuel their rebound, organisations must ensure the solutions chosen are equipped with the right protection and embed resilience.

Resilience and the rebound

Online threats have surged by six times their usual levels since the pandemic struck. And in 2021, these attacks could become even more dangerous and sophisticated, according to a report by Acronis.

It is clear organisations must choose cloud and connectivity solutions that can guarantee multi-layered protection, as well as scalability and agility. If they do not, they run the risk of derailing the extraordinary digital advances they’ve made to date. 

With remote working here to stay as part of an “operate from anywhere” model, and an increased dependence on apps and services, it’s vital network managers stay on top of access to sensitive data.

Organisations simply can’t risk putting technology in place that isn’t properly protected, but they face a challenge: Few can afford to rip out their systems and start afresh because this would involve even more disruption at the worst time.

Instead, organisations should turn to solutions which allow them to upgrade network services and applications incrementally in a way that minimises disruption and bolsters resilience.

Cloud-ready connectivity technologies, such as SD-WAN, provide greater flexibility and agility, while also providing better security by offering end-to-end data encryption to all customers. Organisations can authenticate every user against every app, providing system managers and business leaders with the reassurance they need to grow.

Despite these obvious benefits, changing network technology requires careful planning and expertise. With corporate networks fundamental to business operations, it’s essential that organisations work with expert technology partners, capable of guiding them towards the right advanced connectivity solutions that can make a difference. Working in partnership with a vendor that can provide independent and strategic advice has never been more important. 

The path to rebound

The UK is now in a third national lockdown which will continue to challenge businesses and public sector organisations across the country.

This time, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccines. And, of course, there’s the advantage of having been here before.

If we learnt anything last year it’s that Covid-19 made the world predictably unpredictable. In response, we must all continue evolving to keep our customer and people connected and adapt to hybrid ways of working.

Investing in flexible, scalable connectivity and digital technologies can help us do this. Ultimately, it will set up organisations to rebound, whatever the future holds.