MUMBAI: Preparing for the long haul amid the coronavirus outbreak, businesses are increasingly shifting to technology that enables work from home for employees. Industry experts said technologies like virtual connectivity, networking, cloud-based services coupled with VPN, security firewalls and SaaS-based communication are seeing higher spending by companies with a large section of these likely to retain the practice even after the covid-19 threat is over.
A recent Gartner survey found 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post covid-19.
“Of course, the exact increase will vary according to the industry requirement. To enable WFH, enterprises will be investing in areas such as virtual desktop infrastructure, desktop as a service, connectivity, networking, cloud-based services coupled with virtual private networks and security firewalls,” said Naveen Mishra, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner.
The global IT Buyer Sentiment Survey conducted by IDC in mid-March 2020 indicates that choice of technologies differs across regions, particularly because enterprises across geographies have been on a different technology journey. Enterprises in developed economies such as in North America and Europe already had capacities enabling virtual workspaces, video conferencing and data analytics due to greater work flexibility. “However, enterprises in the Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) region are focused more on building capacity to support virtual workspaces, remote learning/training, and video conferencing,” said Vinay Gupta, Research Director, IT Spending Guides, Customer Insights & Analysis, IDC.
In terms of enterprise products, Vikas Arora, VP for cloud and cognitive, software and services, IBM India and South Asia, noted that when companies cannot ensure availability of the ideal setup on the employee end, they turn to software as a service (SaaS) solutions for communication. “Customers are looking for SaaS versions of existing services like communication, security and access control beyond firewalls more than ever because they can be up and running remotely without extensive deployment efforts,” said Arora.
IBM has provided services like virtual environment on cloud, high-speed file sharing and team collaboration for up to 90 days free of cost to customers to help them keep businesses running in the absence of physical server access due to the lockdown.
“Customers are certainly calibrating risk assessment but the spending to manage operational health will continue,” added Arora.
Collaborative applications, which include conference applications, email applications, enterprise social networks and team collaborative applications, collectively represented a market size of almost $18.5 billion globally in 2019 and has been growing at 13% annually over 2019-2023.
Out of these technologies, IDC estimates that conference applications and team collaborative applications will see annual growth in excess of 15% in 2020.
John Gaunt, Chief Human Resources Officer, Synechron, said that telecommuting is here to stay, and the recent crisis has let many big brands, which were earlier reluctant about working from home, experiment with this mode of work. “Employees who know their way with handhelds, personal digital assistants, smartwatches, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, or Alexa and Google Mini, can help in collaborating, conducting research, switching between video conferences, generating dashboards and even scheduling meetings and to-dos,” added Gaunt.