The 3Cs Challenge is now the signpost to success

John Yang, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress

Prior to the pandemic, many businesses had already started on their digital journey but COVID-19 lockdowns meant a sudden switch to Work-From-Home, greatly accelerating the process.

IT departments were placed under immense pressure, needing to create, implement and monitor fundamental changes to established operational practices. The three critical areas IT needed to address can be termed “The Three Cs” – Covid, Cybercriminals and the Cloud.

Looking at the “Three Cs” in detail, IT had to solve three challenges. First, they had to enable a wide variety of interactions online among businesses and their stakeholders – customers, partners and employees – in the new context of lockdowns (COVID).

Second, they had to ensure that the data shared digitally among critical parties was secure, as well as recognize and mitigate new threat vectors that may not even have existed previously (cybercriminals).

Lastly, they turned to cloud deployments to scale their IT infrastructure, empowering remote work and maintaining stability over time as operations gradually shifted to a hybrid environment (cloud).

Success in addressing the Three Cs was a tactical triumph for hard-pressed IT departments in response to an unexpected crisis. Now that enterprises across the globe are cautiously moving towards recovery, many of the best practices developed in the early fight against the pandemic offer exciting prospects for continuing success. The smoke has cleared from the Three Cs battlefield to reveal new opportunities for smart digital-first businesses in 2021 and beyond.

Digital Experiences Are Successfully Replacing In-Person Interactions

Users today expect to have access to the same in-person interactions they used before the pandemic virtually. To meet that demand, many businesses introduced new online channels making it simple and appealing for customers to compare products, make purchases, leave interactive reviews or access customer service.

Employees can now better access critical services, collaborate on projects, stay up to date with company policies and keep themselves socially connected with colleagues. Business relationships has been enhanced through new partner channels that make it  easy for suppliers, customers and authorities to interact with the business seamlessly online.

However, IT not only needs to work with the other relevant departments in the business to create and establish these new channels, they must also ensure that they scale business-wide. IT is responsible for ensuring that their availability and performance meet the required service levels across a host of channels and touchpoints, all of which generate data that mean the situation is constantly fluid.

This is where a digital experience platform (DXP) becomes indispensable.  A composable DXP, especially one that is cloud-based, enables IT teams to support the business as they search for innovative ways to engage their customers and other stakeholders. A composable DXP gives IT the flexibility to focus on their primary mission while speeding their enterprises’ journey to digital maturity.

Ensuring Security – the Key to Empowering Remote Workforces

Security took on a whole new level of urgency when the pandemic obliged workforces to switch to working remotely. The usual threats were still present, but IT also had to manage new challenges arising from a workforce that was logging on to company servers via their unsecure domestic wifi connection, and coming up with remote workarounds on the fly, just to keep the business running.

Learnings from the pandemic suggest that working from home, at least part of the time, will be standard procedure for many occupations where it is possible. Certainly, early experience showed workers in Singapore were reluctant to return to the office, citing the stress of commuting as well as the risk of exposure to the COVID virus.

As the world settles into a new normal, remote working seems sure to form part of every office employee’s work experience. As a result, the IT function will need to focus hard on creating and maintaining a secure environment for all work-related activity, wherever the employees may be located.

While the cloud offers multiple benefits to enterprises, it has also expanded the potential attack surface for cybercriminals. This, plus the move to remote or hybrid workforces where workers are only occasionally present at the office, has made it even more critical to monitor the system defences – firewalls, VPNs and other infrastructure that keeps enterprise data safe.

A further stressor is the huge growth in demand for video and audio bandwidth, burdening networks that were never designed to manage such traffic volume.  The IT team must be able to proactively identify and resolve network issues; otherwise employees will lack access and be left floundering and unproductive in an exclusively digital world.  

One of the downsides to working from home is that workers find themselves juggling work and personal responsibilities.  No matter how hard they try to draw a virtual line between work and home demands, it is inevitable that they will get distracted at some point. And what this often means is that less attention is paid to secure processes.

Here is where the adoption of managed file transfer solutions can play a major role in ensuring security of data transfer. Such solutions, with end-to-end encryption, can be implemented direct into a range of workflows, and can even work on mobile systems. This reduces the risk of human error and helps prevent data falling into the wrong hands. They also provide compliance with regulations that require a record of file access and movement.

Using the Cloud to Improve Service Delivery, Scalability and Innovation

A digital-first strategy will deliver immense benefits to an enterprise. Executing it well, however, is no simple matter. A crucial element of the solution to this puzzle is the cloud. Cloud deployment is essential for success with the other two Cs, enabling access anywhere and at any time to the services and systems that drive effective digital interactions.

The hybrid work environment and the associated increase in demand for digital presence are what make the urgent case for scalable, secure, reliable, cost-effective off-premises services. Statistics reflect this, with cloud spending estimated to increase to $120B in 2021 according to Forrester, as companies continue to seek the benefits of digital disruption and employ strategic digital transformation strategies. 

Workloads continue to become more complex, meaning the same amount of resources are required for more complex applications to run correctly on cloud platforms.  As businesses move on from quick-fire rehosting without redesigning, they will need to focus on application modifications and updates that will take advantage of cloud-native features.

Throughout 2020, IT teams had to firefight and think on their feet, in supporting their businesses, as they found their way towards a “new normal.” Now that we have adjusted and adapted, 2021 has presented us with the opportunity to take a deep breath and figure out what’s next.

By focusing attention on the three Cs, enterprises will be better equipped to address the shifting expectations and opportunities of the modern digital business landscape.