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4 Post-Pandemic Trends on the Rise
There’s no indication we’re anywhere near the end of this pandemic. The disease is still spreading, people are still dying, and there’s no reliable treatment or vaccine. We don’t even know if the worst is behind us. COVID-19 continues to spread globally, and many states are still reporting an increase in cases. At the time of this writing, the U.S. death toll is more than 116K, that’s 116K people in the US who were alive just a few months ago, gone.
While it’s currently socially acceptable and expected to walk into a bank wearing a robber’s mask, this probably won’t last much longer. Local-retail may never recover, and the travel industry will, but slowly. Sports and live news were the only things keeping pay television relevant. Healthcare and education are in a position for radical disruption.
I’ve spoken to many people who have changed their attitudes about work-at-home from against to all for. This pandemic has been a brutal awakening on remote education, remote shopping, remote healthcare, and will be felt by totally unrelated industries, from television to automobiles for years to come.
Commercial real-estate will experience major declines in demand for restaurants, retail, and office space (demand will accelerate for warehouses related to e-commerce and cloud kitchens). The office isn’t dead yet, but mortally wounded. Now many have discovered the possibilities of working from home (WFH). Even Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, announced that half of the company's employees could be working remotely by the end of the decade, and is considering new office hubs outside of Silicon Valley. Twitter, Square, Spotify, and Coinbase all recently established permanent WFH policies.
COVID-19 has accelerated cloud adoption, mobile-readiness, and digital transformation in general. The coronavirus exposes weaknesses in a workflow, even at organizations that thought they were digital. The virus exposed weaknesses in things like VPN capacity and aspects of the workflow that still required an in-person nudge.
I expect COVID-19 has also accelerated the demise of the premises-based UC and CC market. Don’t be fooled by the recent uptick — we’ve seen this reflex before. Blackberry saw sales increase for four years after the introduction of the iPhone. That’s an extreme example, but the iPhone was so radical that it took years to build out the app ecosystem, enterprise features, and routes to market. UCaaS is ready now, but upgrades are faster than replacement, and enterprises needed fast WFH solutions.
What to expect now: there’s a lot of caution out there. Gartner revised its 2020 global tech spending forecast down 8%. Its new 2020 forecast IT products and services is $3.4 trillion, less than last year’s $3.7 trillion. The hot ticket to sell is digital transformation. Fortunately, enterprise comms plays in this space nicely: voice, meetings, messaging, and contact center are all part of the digital, collaborative, and distributed solution umbrella.
Four key post-COVID-19 trends are appearing. These are:
- Public cloud adoption will accelerate. WFH drives the need to run and store applications in the cloud. Expect to see workload migrations, transformations, and enterprises replace or rewrite applications to better leverage cloud infrastructure. All the major IaaS providers are growing, but Amazon is winning this horse race.
- WFH will become work from anywhere. Nothing particularly new for enterprise comms, but it’s bigger than that. Enterprises will actively develop and facilitate work from anywhere policies and solutions. In addition to communications (voice, chat, meetings), expect to see a renewed focus on upgraded networking, including Wi-Fi, VPNs, and SD-WAN.
- Work from anywhere has many implications. There will be a renewed focus on security. Essentially, physical access (as in an office) goes away in terms of security. Everything changes now. Enterprises will revisit password and SSO solutions, encryption, DLP, firewall rules, and more.
- There’s going to be a lot of mergers and acquisitions for two reasons: First, priorities have shifted, and the vendors need to rapidly adjust portfolios and staffing to meet new requirements. Secondly, cash strapped companies are cheap to acquire. Startups are more likely to be cash strapped, but Hertz reminds us that size doesn’t matter. In addition to cloud and digital priorities, I expect to see a prioritization of digital-security — distributed digital attracts thieves.
These changes make it necessary to revisit prior conclusions and assumptions. More has changed than many realize, and this includes partners, potential acquisitions, purchasing drivers, friends, foes, product ideas, and more should be revisited. A lot of things will be reimagined.
Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Analyst at TalkingPointz.