COVID-19 Fuels Global Demand for Collaborative Tech
Even as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to shake up nations and their economies, organizations across the globe are taking steps to maintain operational continuity and stay relevant.
However, in the midst of all the panic that the COVID-19 contagion has brought with it, there are some silver linings to the dark cloud of uncertainty. Let’s take a look at the technologies that are witnessing a peak in demand.
Looking Up to the Clouds
According to Bloomberg, coronavirus has ignited the “world’s largest work-from-home experiment”. To take care of safety considerations and also to ensure that the “show goes on”, companies have had to mandate remote working for their workforce. While secure remote working technology has been around for some time, the cloud has taken its scalability, availability, and security up several notches. Remote working is possible from any corner of the world, thanks to web-based applications, cloud technologies, virtual desktops, conferencing software, endpoint encryption, VPN, and more. The numbers tell the story – a recent News 18 report has stated that Microsoft cloud services saw a jump of 775% in users.
Forrester has noted in its March 12, 2020 report about the efforts cloud companies are taking to maintain service continuity:
- Amazon Web Services has included pandemic response in its resiliency planning and incorporated procedures into disaster recovery planning. It has also put in place measures to ensure ample capacity and service continuity.
- Google Cloud has formed an internal working group to plan for and mitigate business impacts resulting from COVID-19.
- Microsoft maintains cloud service availability by running multiple instances in geographically dispersed locations.
Gartner, in its recent report, has recommended that organizations “develop a digital workplace strategy that includes collaboration applications, security controls, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs and network support” to ensure business continuity. On these lines, collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom, among others, are witnessing a huge increase in users. Microsoft Teams has gone from 20 million daily active users in November 2019 to 44 million in March 2020. Slack’s users jumped from 10 million this January to 12.5 million, as of March 23. And, then there’s Zoom. Between February 22 and March 22, 2020, Zoom application downloads increased by 1,270% (over 12 times), according to data gathered by Learnbonds.com.
High Stakes for Security
As workplaces shift to homes and work into the digital space, a lot of vulnerabilities creep up on users. A recent report by Fortinet has described that the world has become a hotbed for cyber-attacks in the wake of COVID-19. From SMS phishing to ransomware to denial of service, the attacks are too many to be documented here. Some of the prominent ones are:
- Cyber-attack on the U.S. Health and Human Services Department
- North Korea’s BabyShark malware
- An attack that uses social engineering techniques to masquerade as the Center for Public Health in Ukraine, asking user to download suspicious attachment
- A Coronavirus-themed spear phishing attack targeting Italy
Organizations and individual users are naturally pushed to secure their data and assets – via endpoint security management and identity & access management solutions, among others – leading to an increased demand for security tools and technologies. In fact, in the recent CIO Tech Poll, a majority of respondents (IT Heads), 59%, anticipated their technology budgets to increase in the next 12 months, which is up from 57% in 2019. They expect to see tech spending skyrocketing this year in these areas, as compared to 2019: cybersecurity (68%), BI/analytics tools (63%), business process management/workflow automation (58%), and artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI & ML) (56%).
While it’s true that COVID-19 has been a disruptor in more ways than one, and rained challenges on both businesses and communities, it has also pushed organizations to become more flexible in their approach. There are many lessons for us to learn here – collaborate virtually, distance socially.