Why the Virtual Office is here to stay

Having connected us through a crisis, the cloud has proved its worth. Many companies are now investing in cloud transformation as executives look beyond the pandemic.

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Connectivity has transformed the office. It’s proved that, absent a physical space, work and teams can still flourish virtually. What matters most for today’s workforce isn’t desks and meeting rooms but applications delivered from the cloud via a reliable, powerful network.

A recent Telstra survey of 420 business decision-makers across seven APAC markets found that 52% of those planning to spend more on information and communications technology (ICT) named cloud infrastructure as a top priority. Cloud infrastructure and services provide access to a backbone of servers, networking and storage hardware, plus the software to run them anytime, anywhere via a simple internet connection. They can be owned by the organization or purchased as a service from a third party, which allows the flexibility to scale up or down quickly. In the same survey, 41% of companies with plans for global expansion said cloud infrastructure would be key, and cloud migration emerged as a top ICT investment priority among all respondents.

Cloud services are an essential building block for growth

Forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt, many businesses that successfully shifted to remote work have not just survived but have grown. In many cases, cloud infrastructure and services were the enabling factor, with cloud-based connectivity now critical amid an enduring shift in how we work, communicate and collaborate.

41% of respondents who cite cloud infrastructure as key to global expansion

Whether its collecting and analyzing data, streamlining processes or connecting remote workers, the cloud provides the flexibility and agility needed for all aspects of digital enterprise. And while the trend toward digital transformation was already well under way before 2020, the global pandemic drove it to new levels. Among respondents to the Telstra survey, seven in 10 businesses increased investment in digital transformation during this period, while 61% were planning to quicken their overall pace of transformation. By far, the top goal of digital transformation projects, cited by 77% of respondents, is to enable rapid change.

“This hasn’t been an easy transition for a lot of businesses, and those that hadn’t implemented the right strategies to work from home were most impacted by this new way of working,” says Sebastian Bird, head of adaptive networks, South Asia at Telstra, the division responsible for customized network solutions that optimize performance, efficiency and security for clients. “Business architecture must focus on agility and mobility as these are fast becoming sink-or-swim factors in a post-pandemic sphere.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, a focus on growth remains a key objective, and here, digital transformation and the flexible scalability of the cloud can help to balance costs. The research found that 65% of organizations cite cost management as an important goal of ICT investment, which will be an important factor for the six in 10 companies that are planning for market expansion, both within APAC and globally. For many organizations, success will hinge on strong growth potential coupled with a market’s digital readiness, defined by its reliable network infrastructure to support cloud services.

Continuity, Agility, Resilience

The pandemic made it clear that organizations with a well-designed digital strategy in place are more resilient and better placed for business continuity, even in the face of enormous disruption. It also vastly accelerated the migration of workloads to cloud services.  

77%  of respondents who cite "to enable rapid change"  as the top goal of digital transformation projects

“As a best practice, businesses should be moving toward a fully cloud-native, microservices-based application environment to ensure the highest degree of agility,” says Mr. Bird, describing an organization’s migration to cloud services. Access to cloud services via a reliable and secure network is key to ensuring that today’s dispersed workforce is empowered to connect, collaborate and drive growth.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated requirements for a truly remote and distributed workforce, these changes will leave a lasting legacy, as employees will be encouraged to persist with a hybrid mix of in-office and remote working styles going forward,” says Mr. Bird. Cloud networks are well-suited to help organizations navigate this new workplace mix with flexibility and reliability.

Indeed, the Telstra research found that top ICT investment priorities reflect the needs of a growing virtual workforce. They include networking solutions for remote workers (85%), accelerating roll-out of customer-centric digital services (83%) and the migration of workloads to cloud services to support remote workers with business continuity and compliance (83%). What these priorities also highlight is that the future workplace cannot be created with a few off-the-shelf apps but requires a truly integrated digital transformation, underpinned by the power of the cloud.

To learn more about how cloud technology and others are shaping the future of work, and to read the full Telstra report, click here

This article first appeared on Wall Street Journal’s custom content