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Reflection on 2020 and a look ahead

Reflection On 2020

Reflection on 2020 and a look ahead by Wayne Erradu

As we started 2021 we realised that the year ahead would be difficult & very different. New year greetings were done over Whatsapp, Zoom and other platforms as Adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations with curfews in place starting at 9 pm and to ensure social distancing meant we all could not celebrate traditionally together at midnight. Technology would have to bridge that divide as we stayed away from loved ones for their own safety and that of ours.

As the first few weeks of January passed we as a country faced the startling reality that the second wave of COVID infections and its ramifications were self-evident. Social media filled with posts of loved ones lost, funerals & memorials broadcast on Zoom and other streaming platforms brought some closure for our bereaved families. Technology would again connect us together in a time of our most tragic moments.

2021 is going to challenge all of us as we navigate our way through this year. With the rapid rise in infections, Businesses are opting for a blended approach to keep employees safe. Working from home whether on rotation or totally will be the norm for the foreseeable future and probably beyond the pandemic. Technology will be the differentiator for large and small businesses. SOHO (Small office, home office) kits consisting of fibre to the home, seamless high-speed wireless, ink tank printers, headsets, notebooks and UPSes are the new hotcakes.

Those businesses that have invested and leveraged technology and continue to invest will continue with business unusual. We have seen a dramatic rise in the number of organisations installing secure Firewalls for VPNs to access on-premise resources such as Sage, whilst others have completely shifted their on-premise resources to the cloud by leveraging Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.

This rise is attributed to not only COVID but the inevitability & uncertainty of load shedding by Eskom. By working in the cloud the dependence of Server infrastructure is mitigated by workloads being always online & accessible in the Microsoft Cloud. Users are able to collaborate & communicate using Microsoft Teams, Documents are stored in SharePoint and Email is always online.  Most importantly the M365 ecosystem provides the built-in security to ensure that digital assets are protected. Using Intune we are able to secure endpoints and ensure complete Mobile Device Management and visibility for employers. Productivity monitoring tools ensure that employee output is measured at a time where businesses must do more with less. Eskom’s National Grid remains vulnerable and load shedding is and will be an existential challenge for 2021. A recent article published online provided insight that with Borders closed in certain countries specialists were unable to come into South Africa and local contractors infected by COVID would impact and impede planned maintenance and unplanned repairs of ageing coal-fired stations.

The other technology areas that are increasing symbiotically is the shift from traditional on-premise PBXs to hosted cloud voice solutions. With the ability to have your extension on your smartphone or installed on your Notebook as a softphone, you can continue to make or receive calls as usual from the comfort of your home. Unbelievably there are still businesses who have not made that switch with their staff unreachable over phones and even when a cloud solution will probably in most cases realise a cost-saving. These are the businesses that we seek to help most to endeavour through 2021 and beyond.

POPI which kicks in, in July will also change the landscape for businesses. To comply with the ability to ensure customer data is safe, secure and private will mean that all businesses will have to check quite a few security checkboxes. Those that are already in the cloud with M365 have started shifting their Data from European Datacenters to South African ones and are poised to take advantage of the GDPR compliance which Microsoft 365 innately offers. As the outsourced IT department, this shift was proactively initiated over a year ago for our Customers. POPI Compliance will definitely be a priority for most businesses in 2021 and those who have already ascertained their current POPI posture will be firmly on the front foot. Is your IT provider POPI ready?

As a country to reach herd immunity it is estimated about 40 million citizens or 60% of the population would need to be vaccinated. It is anticipated that logistically this will take several months or more and until then there will be waves of infections as Easter holidays, July Holidays, local Government Elections mean people will be transiting the country or coming into close contact with others as schools open. In essence, the pandemic will be here for most of 2021 which means we will continue to work remotely in a blended fashion in the same vein as infections spike and drop.

Lastly, a lesson from 2020 which we hope to see continue In agile businesses in 2021 is the ability to achieve success at a time when businesses need to be closest to their customers, & that is the adoption of CRM solutions, custom application development and integration that brings products and services to their customers in the most effective and efficient way despite load shedding, the pandemic and the numerous challenges we face at this historical juncture. Taking a product or service online will increase access to new markets and therefore new customers.

All of these points combined with a Customer-focused customised IT strategy and an innovative Technology partner comprised of elite specialists that can Make IT happen will be the difference between those that thrive and those that survive. Choose  NETCONFIG to deliver on your technology ambitions for 2021 and beyond. If you intend on investing in Technology, choosing the right partner with the right solution for your business will determine the difference between an ROI or prodigality.

NETCONFIG, your trusted Innovative Technology Partner.