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The new era of the enterprise: accelerating the future of the ‘next normal enterprise’

Sahem Azzam is Vice President Middle East & Africa, Orange Business Services

The new era of the enterprise: accelerating the future of the ‘next normal enterprise’

As we have seen with the current pandemic, huge disruptive events accelerate existing trends. This is first and foremost a uniquely and deeply human crisis but the impact of the disruption has highlighted the essential need for collaborative tools, hubs and devices to maintain productivity and efficiency longer-term, in the enterprise.

In effect, this is ushering in a new era of the enterprise and we have seen its dramatic impact in the equally dramatic speed of the creative response – in executive decision making, the rapid innovation we have witnessed, from business models to workplace, a surge in digital transformation, and the agility and transparency in deploying new processes and solutions.

As we now increasingly look ahead for signs of the ‘new normal’, we see network and cloud transformation as a core consequence of this major disruption, which is fundamentally changing the enterprise, the nature of work and is leading to a repositioning of IT in the enterprise.

At Orange Business Services, we have faced our own challenges as our network undergoes a global stress test, with a 700 per cent increase in the number of enterprise users connecting remotely, and demand for video conferencing up from 20 per cent to 100 per cent.

Disruption is driving and accelerating transformation but also revealing the underlying opportunities of remote working and collaboration, and the need to create secure access for all staff. We are all now trying to anticipate the new normal, which we believe will be characterised by digital workspaces, digital customer interaction, and cloud-centric infrastructure – an accelerated journey that depends on a major network transformation leading to the adoption of the SD-WAN model.

It is clear that our customers aim to accelerate their move to the cloud and to focus on maximising the value of their data. Network and cloud transformation will underpin the response to the crisis, leverage the opportunity it presents and ultimately, this transformation will help create the ‘new normal’.

What happens post Covid-19?

All the signs are that the new normal will look very different to the old – the speed of the digital transformation was unimaginable before the pandemic but many of these transformations are likely to be ‘sticky’ even after the crisis. There has been a broad surge of digital adoption across a range of solution areas – video conferencing and collaboration software, an acceleration in automation and job replacement, business apps, while eCommerce is booming, and public clouds have been boosted.

In some sectors, major revenue declines have focused enterprises on the need to cut costs immediately just to survive but also to restructure and move towards a new business model based on anticipated future levels of business activity.

One standout feature of the crisis is that there is no doubt the companies that have already started their digital transformation journey are managing the current disruption better and are more resilient to its adverse impacts. Although the pandemic has been a seismic shock, there is also the opportunity to shape the ‘new normal’ and enhance business resilience, relevance and sustainability of the new digital business model, based on the network.

What about the network in the new normal? In the past, the network was designed to connect sites to applications in the data centre. Tomorrow, users will move to the internet and work from home (and everywhere else) with applications in the cloud. Arguably SD-WAN provides the closest thing to an ideal solution to support the demands of network transformation and provide the flexibility of multicloud connectivity around the world.

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