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Keeping Up With the Times: The Technology Industry’s Response to COVID-19

Tech-Giants Keeping Up With the Times: The Technology Industry’s Response to COVID-19

In the whirlwind of the last few weeks, the world has turned to the digital side of things for solace. Working from home has only been possible through the use of technology such as video calls, data sharing, and the cloud. But how has the tech industry responded to help cope with COVID-19 and working from home? We’re here to tell you. Keep reading for the latest updates on how the tech industry has given back. 

Local Technology Companies 

With relatively smaller tech companies, such as ourselves, we’ve found people dedicated to giving back in this time of need. Although most small businesses across the world are taking a large hit due to this unprecedented and unexpected catastrophe, they have made it a priority to put their employees and local community above their own needs. Whether creating internal agendas donating to local COVID-19 relief groups or organizations such as the Vancouver Food Bank, smaller communities are dedicated to providing help as best they can. Here at Optimus we have been doing the same. While still working from home and putting the health and safety of the community that we live in first, we have raised money for the Food Banks of Canada, the donations of the employees matched by the company itself. So far we have been able to raise over $8500! 

Interested in making your own contribution to the city of Vancouver in this time of need? Look no further, click here to view the ways that you can give back. 

Tech Giants and their Massive Impact

The tech giants that are at the forefront of innovation right now have put a lot of their projects on hold like the rest of us to help in the times of the COVID-19 crisis. Not only monetarily, although that is a significant portion of their contributions, but also by cushioning the economy after this is all over through expanding the job space by tens of thousands. Amazon has created 10, 000 new jobs and other companies are following suit. Apple has donated 10 million masks to healthcare facilities and are still paying their hourly workers as they would have regularly. Amazon, Cisco, Google and more are all contributing as well. Google, a well known search platform as we all are aware, is creating a website specifically for COVID-19 education and awareness, and Cisco has committed $225 million towards awareness and reparation as well. 

Responding to Demands 

For those of us who have the luxury of working from home, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Increased distractions, lack of space, and feelings of isolation are just a few of the barriers to overcome (for more information on how you can stay productive while working from home, click here). But what about the companies who are providing us with services that make our remote work possible? Our reliance on the cloud now is higher than ever. Suddenly, cloud computing resources are at the forefront of essential infrastructure, allowing the government and health organizations to spread important information, allowing coworkers to stay connected, and keeping people in touch with their loved ones. What toll is this taking on the cloud giants? COVID-19 is “stress-testing” cloud service providers, pushing infrastructure to its limits. As well as this, the crisis has exposed the flaws and areas of improvement needed in infrastructure, testing how far companies can stretch before they break. Microsoft has reported a 775% spike in cloud services demand due to COVID-19, and other providers are stating similar stories. It’s clear that some of these cloud giants will have to come up with new business strategies to keep up with what the world needs right now: connection. 

Expansion and Creation of Apps

With this pandemic as well as tensions on the rise, many people are turning to technology as a form of entertainment while they stay indoors. Because of this, we’re seeing a boom in the creation and expansion of entertaining apps whether that be video games or extensions/plug-ins for your devices that allow you to connect with people regardless of their location. A few noteworthy examples that we would include in this list are Netflix Party (a Google Chrome extension that allows multiple users to watch the same movie in real time), and House Party (an application that allows users to join and exit different conversations with friends over video in real time, almost like they’re entering and exiting rooms in a house). Aside from the entertainment sector, we’re also seeing a spike in the availability of online courses as well as programs. Many tech companies are offering free or reduced rates for their services. Microsoft is a leading example of this as they are offering Microsoft Teams, an application that allows coworkers to collaborate through audio and video calls, for free. 

This is a scary time. We’re not going to dissuade you of that fact. But in the face of uncertainty, we encourage you to look at the tech giants, and take advantage of the resources that so many companies are providing, while giving back to your own clients as well. We hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy, not to mention connected through some of the aforementioned services. 

 

Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

By Goran Kimovski, SVP Global Customer Solutions (Onica)

For many decades, technology businesses were considered a separate industry sector. These were typically companies whose revenue was dependant on developing technology-based products and selling those products to other businesses. The majority of other businesses were relegated to the role of technology consumers. Wanting to reduce their technology budgets, these technology consumers focused on minimizing their technology costs by standardizing their business processes and tools. This approach worked for a while, since everyone in their industry and market were in the same race. However, with the advent of ubiquitous technology – in the form of cloud services, mobile and edge devices – a new wave of companies emerged. These new companies shifted technology from the periphery to the core of their business model.149 Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

Technology Became the Differentiator

New businesses in sectors ranging from healthcare to transportation to financial services were able to compete and steal market share from existing businesses. We started using terms like fintech, healthtech, and transportation as a service to differentiate these businesses from the respective industry sector they were competing within. They almost always looked more like technology companies based on their R&D budget and technology innovation. This new wave of hybrid startups has attracted tons of investments across the globe.

Many traditional businesses have changed their direction to keep up with the competition. They had to take advantage of the same trends in cloud, mobile, and edge, to start catching up to (or in some cases outperform) their new competitors. These traditional businesses have recognized that these new businesses are using technology to differentiate themselves and grabbing market share from them. Some have been able to successfully change their direction and take their competition. Many found new solutions for their customers by partnering with these new vendors. Some have decided to acquire these businesses and bring them into the core of their operations. This effectively started a transformation towards becoming more and more technology oriented.

What Drives This Process?

Several technology innovations:

  1. Open and fast internet access
  2. Adoption of mobile in every aspect of our business and professional lives
  3. Extensive processing and sensor technology being built in every device
  4. Low cost and easy access to large computing power in the form of cloud

Screen-Shot-2019-05-14-at-11.14.03-AM Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

These innovations have converged and democratized access to technology. This enabled new business models like “everything as a service” to thrive. As businesses adopt more technology, they create a greater wealth of data and many new integration possibilities.

In turn, this drives innovation to:

  1. Make sense of all the data
  2. Help businesses drive better decisions and optimize the user experience
  3. Offer new ways for users to obtain services from their business
  4. Create additional revenue generating opportunities uniquely enabled by technology

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

If you’re not already on the path of transforming towards a technology-centric future, now is the best time to start.

This is how you can begin:

  1. Starting the Discussion
    Initiating discussions with your leadership (or, if you’re an executive, by leading such discussions) about making an initial investment.
  2. Create a Team
    Empower a small team to start experimenting with technology and exploring how to solve current business challenges in a different way using cloud-based or related technologies. It is critical that you truly empower the team to try different technologies. Give them a budget and authority for creating a sandbox with enough guardrails and support from your IT and security teams to enable them to safely run experiments fast. It is equally critical to hold them accountable for their learning and sharing the results of their experiments. Therefore, you can build a roadmap for transforming your business through the use of technology and get wider support from the organization to continue further investments.

If you’ve started the transformation and feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The technology driving the trends discussed here is largely developed for builders. These are companies that employ engineers and others that have the skill and know-how to build solutions from various technology components. However, many of the businesses outside the technology sector employ people that are good at customizing and managing solutions who don’t have the capacity to maintain their existing technology stacks.

Learning the New Model

Customization, integration, and maintenance is commonly outsourced to professional services or managed services firms. In addition, most of those firms are too invested in their existing technology platforms and unable to move as fast as their customers who feel the pressure of the market. They need to adopt new technologies faster than their vendors can. This leaves room for a new kind of service firms (Optimus Information and Onica included) that have been born in the new technology-centric world. These new service firms are not constrained by old business models or large numbers of customers with support agreements that keep their staff working with outdated technologies. These companies are more than happy to share the best practices they have developed over the years working with early adopters of technologies like cloud, IoT, serverless, Big Data, Machine Learning, etc. Larger enterprises are also great examples of this new model. Many have already started their journeys and have been relying on those new technology-centric services organizations to help.

Technology Transformation Trend

It is somewhat useful to think of all of these trends as enabling a transformation towards technology-enabled businesses. However, in my 6+ years offering cloud consulting and managed services in Canada and the US, I have often seen this trend of technology becoming central to the business. These businesses are on the path to becoming or have already become technology-centric; and many aspects of their organizations have been transforming to support that. I expect this trend to continue over the next 10 years. I predict that we will find ourselves in a world where almost every business will become technology-centric.