By George Thabit Ayad Thomas, Senior Solutions Manager of HUAWEI CLOUD Africa Region
The COVID-19 pandemic has had such a fundamentally destabilising impact on the planet that it transcends public health concerns. It has triggered social and economic disasters in several countries, paralyzing entire industries, separating families and bringing companies to their knees.
Coming back from this will require the full deployment of technology and all of its capabilities – not least by unleashing the full potential of AI and Cloud computing.
We all understand the need to put the economy on pause while we manage the spread of the disease. However, the human impacts of the business shutdown are real. Businesses are asking whether they should transform their business to adapt to the new normal, or wait for a return to former ways of doing things.
Waiting may not be the ideal approach. It could be years before we return to an approximation of pre-pandemic business methods. Social distancing, e-commerce and remote work will remain business considerations for the foreseeable future.
Businesses are understandably trying to find IT solutions that allow them to continue working and delivering services remotely – and affordably.
However, once we accept the new normal, it can be a liberating step, as we can then commit to finding the right tools to manage it.
Working from home, for instance, requires the necessary collaboration tools, and the right IT and infrastructure solutions.
Even after the pandemic, e-learning platforms must find broader adoption in the education sector, this can only be achieved with solutions that support live streaming and video compression on low bandwidth. These e-learning platforms must also be flexible, scalable and cost effective.
As we move towards these solutions, businesses are finding that physical backup makes it difficult to access data, and many are moving to Cloud services for better business continuity, which can also be managed remotely.
While the pandemic is still with us, technology is proving critical to fighting the virus. Artificial intelligence (AI) supports track-and-trace efforts and remote diagnostics, while smart-home healthcare allows for contactless medicine.
On the other side of the coin, embracing technology is not just a survival tool – it comes with a host of opportunities.
Increased home working and consumer videoconferencing – video will remain a critical part of modern workplace interface.
Upsurge in mobile app downloads and consumption – The demand for entertainment, home working, delivery apps, ride-sharing and COVID-19 info will be app driven.
Collaboration apps Webinars, e-learning and video-conferencing demand reliable and timely communications.
Digital commerce Online shopping and payments will surge, and there will be a rise in in-person payments via contactless cards and mobile apps.
Artificial intelligence AI is already playing a vital role in the detect-and-contain medical response to COVID-19. It also has vast applications in sectors such as mining, agriculture, home entertainment and retail.
Smart homes - with the growing focus on home improvement and hygiene, home healthcare will grow, and voice control will support no-touch operation.
All of these applications come with significant data transfer needs, and a need for cost-effective speed and scalability, as well as security. Most large enterprises have moved their data needs to the Cloud to deliver this for their stakeholders.
Some have embraced multi-Cloud strategies, leveraging services from multiple Cloud providers, or combining the use of public and private Clouds. Already, soaring Cloud demand reflects this. Huawei Cloud has seen its global revenue and paid-users numbers triple within a year.
In the post-pandemic era, the move to the Cloud is a journey, with some organisations opting to keep financial data on-premises, while they move IoT, non-sensitive data for analysis to Cloud or SaaS models.
It’s become clear that the exponentially growing data needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with mass, high-speed connectivity and devices and equipment generating ever more information, make Cloud services indispensable.
Cloud-readiness assessments and application dependencies are top cloud-migration challenges, but by choosing a cloud partner with the skills, experience and tools to assist with the migration, this challenge can be overcome.
The right cloud partner must help clients optimize spend, since the success of cloud services is measured in cost savings, delivery speed and value added.
The need for IT solutions is soaring during the pandemic, and that trend will only accelerate as we emerge from it. Cloud is proving an ideal solution to deliver on these needs.