With industry momentum, comes great responsibility

Shockwaves filtered through businesses as they adapted to a “new normal,” solving unique issues overnight. Business leaders had to manage potential threats to business continuity. They identified the production, distribution and supply chain networks within areas potentially impacted, while implementing mobilisation, isolation and education strategies for workers. Resilience was put to the test – and freshly sown where it failed to transpire – while agility raised the stakes for success. And there were successes, despite the fog of unprecedented events.

“Unprecedented” may have been the winning word of 2020, as a winded world came to terms with the pandemic – nevertheless, many businesses continued to grow. From the home office, the drumbeat of innovation kept the markets alive and customers happy. But it wasn’t without its challenges.

Digital transformation in the spotlight

The reality is that there has never been a more compelling argument for digital transformation, as the world works and plays online while pondering a more hybrid future. Businesses continue their digital transformation journeys, depending on data that resides on-premises, in public and private clouds, devices at the edge and within networks and operation centres. Our new remote working realities have added further complexity to digital environments – and managing them has cost and labour repercussions.

The concept of infrastructure continues to evolve radically as businesses embrace digital transformations. But in a market where data centre and network maintenance is expected to exceed $185 billion annually, it’s time for the industry to address servicing digital IT infrastructure servicing in harmony with third party maintenance. With the evolution of the new market category, Discovery, Monitor, Support and Optimise (DMSO) – set to be worth $228 billion annually by 2023 – this is truer than ever before.

In the digital age, it is imperative that companies invest in predictive maintenance and strategies – in our always-on society, downtime is sacrilege. Identifying and addressing problems before they happen is key to maintaining the competitive edge.  Gaining insights through automation and analytics saves time and money, streamlining operations and ultimately enabling businesses to shift precious capital towards innovation, putting them on the cutting edge of their industry. This makes IT infrastructure a strategic business asset. The pandemic adds a fresh urgency to this awareness.

It is clear: Businesses can no longer ignore the opportunity to maximise uptime, create cost efficiencies, enable greater infrastructure control and visibility, and enhance asset performance through support. It’s sink, or swim – and the ripple effect is being felt at the top level in the markets.

Growth through uncertainty

 While many businesses treaded water in 2020, simply trying to stay afloat, Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) were expected to take a back seat. There was initial uncertainty around how the procedures would fair in a remote world, from handling negotiations via communications platforms to due diligence, reviewing a target company’s books and assets. But it was a matter of months before businesses found their feet and large-scale deals were being struck once more, at a frantic pace.

Park Place Technologies opted to swim through the crisis, acquiring Curvature in November 2020. It was a bold move not only as its largest acquisition but as it made it the world’s largest third-party data maintenance company – doubling the number of employees and revenue. Navigating the move virtually meant managing communications through all touchpoints so to keep the remote workforce aligned and onboard. There were webinars, podcasts, town halls, training videos and email communications all designed to bring the whole enterprise along the journey.

At the best of times, M&A can be fraught with uncertainty – even in normal scenarios the process can be tenuous once everything is complete. Personal interaction is an essential part of integrating sensitively and efficiently following an acquisition. This means creating a cohesive culture during a pandemic can be tricky when teams can’t meet face to face – but not impossible. Getting it right impacts the level of productivity, job satisfaction and vital business activities.

There are many lessons to take away from the experience, but most importantly that digital markets are ripe and acquisitions are manageable even in these strange times – businesses are taking advantage of the momentum. For example, we expect to see an acceleration in the emergence of Augmented Reality technologies due to the unprecedented circumstances of 2020/21. It’s expected to grow by 46.6 percent between 2019 to 2024, reaching a market value of $72.7 billion. This is supported by the shift to remote working and the need to compensate the digital enterprise experience with more human interactions.

Beyond complexities

Meanwhile, data is more distributed, with 50 percent of enterprise data being created and processed outside the data center or cloud – up from less than 10 percent in 2019 – according to Gartner. While adding another layer of complexity for businesses to masters, it nods to the drive for more data fabric solutions as digital transformations take hold. The global data fabric market is set to reach $4,546.9 Million by 2026.

Finally, as these complexities are hammered home, the need for simplification is very clear. As IT managers and CIOs look for simpler ways to manage their infrastructure including, SD-WAN, virtual networking and DMSO, we will continue to see market shifts.   

Customer service and experience, always a business priority, are under intense scrutiny. Portals that track real-time interactions, mobile apps, performance guarantees and direct client input are a few of the strategies that ensure the highest level of customer experience.

Even in times of turmoil and upheaval, markets, businesses and human beings will always adapt – survival requires us to keep moving, not stand still. So long as there are human needs, there will be momentum for change. Last year, humanity’s reliance on technology to connect, sustain business and social lives was abundantly clear. This year, the pressure is on to sustain and evolve the products and services we have come to rely on.

IT departments will continue to feel the heat as business’ IT infrastructure are put to the test. They will continue to need smooth and cost-effective data strategies that meet the demands for higher quality customer service, more reliable partners and cutting edge innovate. Creating steady momentum through the rockiest of business environments is no easy task, but it should be a responsibility to all of us to ensure that we try.

Michael Cantor, Chief Information Officer, Park Place Technologies

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