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The anywhere workspace is here

The anywhere workspace is here

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Even though many South African organisations have understood the importance of embracing the cloud on their Digital Transformation journeys, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant acceleration of adoption rates. With the need for employees to work from anywhere, the business landscape has irrevocably changed.

“There are 16 different companies in our group comprising the mining, oil and gas and construction sectors. Because of the pandemic, many had to shut down completely while others could remain operational as essential services. Fortunately, we have been progressive with our cloud strategy and have embraced a work from anywhere mindset, even prior to COVID-19,” says Kevin Wilson, GM Group IT Manager at Stefanutti Stocks, a VMware customer.

Even so, he said, some of the companies in the group had to rethink how they approach managing staff during the hard lockdown. For him, the fundamental lesson was that it was not about where people had to work from, but rather that they were fulfilling on their responsibilities.

“Many learnt more about their technology in the first three months of COVID-19 than the three years prior to it. The acceleration towards a digital-centric mindset which we have been fighting for happened virtually overnight. Now, almost one year on and one of the key takeaways is that companies should not panic but rather embrace the work from anywhere mindset,” he said.

According to Wilson, the biggest issue is that management must think differently about how to measure employee performance in this new environment.

Maturing market

Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of VMware partner, Routed, which builds and manages VMware clouds in South Africa, said that part of this mindset change has been the need for companies to identify the high availability and performance required from their business environments.

“We have seen conversations accelerate towards the cloud and becoming more mature than in the pre-COVID-19 days. In those times there was a lot of cloud washing taking place. Today, enterprises have changed their thinking and are examining how best to embrace hyperscale providers, modernise apps and leverage web-native tools,” he said.

Even though the pandemic has provided much of the impetus behind this maturing market, local companies remain concerned about the uncertainty of load shedding and the impact this could have on operations.

He said that COVID-19 has accelerated thinking about the cloud in general with companies under pressure to decide on how best to approach the transition from an immediate, practical side. It comes down to not wanting to own infrastructure in this environment but rather finding more innovative ways of using modern apps, while still using more traditional ones.

A question of leadership

Sunny Desai, Executive – Solutions, Engineering and Services at VMware partner, Aptronics, believes that these discussions revolve less around technology and more on the human side.

“Transformation does not begin with technology but with leadership. In the past year, we have seen businesses who were undecided about the cloud to now see it as mandatory. The amount of technology available today means organisations and their customers are now embracing the cloud and overcoming any obstacles along the way. This is in contrast with the past where much of the attention was on discussing the cloud and less on actioning the move,” said Desai.

However, he said the work from anywhere environment is still heavily dependent on whether employees are working from urbanised or rural areas.

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