The effect of the pandemic on digital transformation was one of the most discussed topics during last month’s Channel Evolution conference.
From the initial lockdowns in 2020 to the new hybrid workspace in 2022, many industries and organizations needed to accelerate their move to digital services. Demand for video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex, and Teams surged. Meanwhile, many organizations scrambled to enable most of their workforce to work remotely, providing them with different tools and moving many applications to the cloud.
While the disruption to manufacturing, logistics, and other industries relying on physical labor was immense, other organizations adapted quickly and could resume operations within days with little impact. That impact, however, was very different depending on the stage of digital services used. The ones already using cloud computing and software-as-a-service platforms for most operations were the least affected, while the more traditional organizations relying on bespoke applications and local storage took longer to adapt to the new reality.
For most organizations, mainly medium and large enterprises, the fast workplace transformation and the ability to continue operations were impossible without the help of managed service providers (MSPs). MSPs quickly rose to the task of serving their clients by shifting their operations to cloud services, helping employees and suppliers to work remotely and enabling new forms of hybrid communication within enterprises.
Many organizations are returning to work on-premises, and many others to some form of hybrid work. For both, the challenge of adapting to the new situation is much greater than before the pandemic. According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by Appian, “Supporting remote workers (72%), integrating information and workflows across the organization (69%), and changing systems and processes quickly (69%) are the top 3 areas for improvement.”
The Pandemic Created Another Jump in Shadow IT
Since the arrival of smartphones and their apps, most organizations have had to deal with users and departments installing communication tools without the authorization or knowledge of management or the IT department. New, secure communication systems, unified collaboration platforms, and security tools to onboard different devices and allow access only to the necessary data started to appear. Unfortunately, many of the usual precautions for remote access to sensitive information were skipped or delayed because of the urgency of enabling remote work during the pandemic. And, in many cases, several organizations were never prepared to allow outside access to their data.
As most enterprises are now looking to return to normality, regaining control of shadow IT is paramount. This is an area where some MSPs specializing in security could flourish. While we could forgive inevitable mistakes made during the pandemic, the security holes must be closed and monitored.
Additionally, organizations need to engage the help of security professionals to assess their vulnerabilities and apply the necessary steps to reduce and eliminate them.
MSPs and Other Channel Partners Need to Understand the New Reality
Before the pandemic, many organizations were still taking baby steps to move services to the cloud. Some traditional enterprises, faced with many other challenges, were not ready for the fast transition necessary to continue operations during lockdowns.
However, this new reality has accelerated a massive digital transformation. New communication tools and cloud services are in use, even in the most traditional of enterprises. While this creates challenges, there is an upside: The enterprises that realize the benefits of moving to the cloud, using new technologies for communication and collaboration, and accelerating their digital transformation are attaining a competitive advantage.
Now, the MSPs that can help those organizations deal with the new reality, help train their employees with the latest tools, and ensure that security protocols and services are in place will benefit. More traditional service providers must adapt, learn new tools, hire experts, and collaborate with other partners to continue serving their clients.