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A Year Since Lockdown:  How Cloud Technology Changed the Way We See Working from Home by Robert Belgrave, CEO of Pax8 UK

Business owners and leaders have all experienced their share of challenges regarding daily operations and long-term strategic decisions of running their organisations. Companies have had to adapt to overcome those challenges, from addressing skills gaps to creating engaging and diverse company cultures. However, when the UK first went into lockdown in the Spring of 2020, we saw many businesses that were all facing the same challenge on a scale never seen before.

As businesses rushed to deploy their workers to enable them to work from home, many found that their outdated processes and rigid IT infrastructures weren’t cut out for remote working. Therefore, for these organisations to remain operational, the only solution was to invest in business-critical tools that would enable employees to work effectively from home.

Businesses Look to the cloud as the silver lining of reduced IT Spending

When the first lockdown took place last year, many business leaders were faced with a number of uncertainties and difficult decisions ahead of them. As a result, many organisations began slashing their IT and technology spend, which was unprecedented due to companies continuing to implement digital transformation across their organisations. With these cuts, both Gartner and IDC revised their 2020 forecasts to estimate a significant drop in IT investment throughout 2020.

Nevertheless, while overall technology investments were down, cloud technology experienced a significant surge throughout the year as businesses saw it as the go-to solution to enable remote working almost instantly. According to PWC, cloud spending increased by 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020 with IDC forecasting an overall 3.8 percent growth in 2020. Gartner also predicts more businesses will invest in the cloud over the next two years.

Cloud computing has enabled businesses worldwide to enhance their daily operations by providing flexible working solutions for organisations. Due to the cloud’s scalable nature, enterprises of all sizes can reap the technology’s benefits. The technology itself has also continued to evolve beyond simply online storage and live document sharing capabilities. Now the technology can provide organisations and their employees with the ability to access all business-critical tools and applications. With more business leaders seeing the benefits and capabilities of this now mature technology, it’s not surprising that so many turned to cloud computing to navigate the pandemic and remote working necessities.

Emerging to the new normal

When the UK went into its first lockdown 12 months ago, no one could predict what the next year would have in store. While cloud technology has enabled many businesses to navigate these challenging and complex times, some organisations have reached milestone achievements. A mere few months after the first lockdown, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, said that the organisation had experienced two years of digital transformation in just two months due to customers adopting its Teams solutions. He stated that in April alone, the organisation saw 200 million Microsoft Teams meeting participants in a single day, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes.

As we emerge from the third national lockdown, many businesses will have to think about the way they operate. Whether a company that already enabled employees to work from home or a business that relied on an office-based workforce. The future of working post-pandemic is most certainly going to follow a hybrid model – providing staff with the flexibility and convenience of choosing whether to be in the office or work from the comfort of their living room.

Cloud technology will play a critical role in this shift to hybrid working as business leaders identify additional areas their company can benefit from the cloud. While Gartner predicts overall IT spend to increase by 6.2% to a total of $3.9 trillion in 2021, the analyst firm also forecasts cloud investment to grow by 18.4% in 2021 to a total $304.9 billion.

2020 was a year like no other. While we can hope to see the end of nationwide lockdowns and the necessity to work from home, the past year has undoubtedly opened up many business leaders’ eyes. Remote working powered by the cloud isn’t just a perk to list on their job ads to attract recruits but also a way to future-proof their organisations against times of mass uncertainty.

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