Besides just migrating to the cloud and calling it a day, digital leaders thrive by “responding, adapting and accelerating”

The economic challenges caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic have clearly separated the digital ‘leaders’ from the ‘laggards’.

As the dust settles, we are witnessing a similar K-shaped recovery pattern (V+L shapes) not built along the fault lines of industry verticals, but in the divide between those that have been able to adjust to the abrupt shift of business online and those that have not coped well with the new reality.

Often, it comes down to a simple question: did the business successfully digitalize?

An airline that embraced more Cloud

Businesses that have made a bold move to go all-in to digitalize have been able to adapt and acclimatize better to address the new way of working and living.

In an Alibaba Cloud survey late last year, 80% of the IT decision makers from Singapore said cloud-based tools or digitalization efforts helped their company cope with its business and operational needs during the ongoing pandemic. But now, what we are seeing is that—beyond the immediate-term needs caused by the global health crisis—digitalization is defining the leaders and laggards of tomorrow as well.

For example, the aviation industry was hard hit but some airlines managed to bounce back with a revamped digitalization strategy. The national carrier of Indonesia, Garuda, had to come up with a way to save its bottom line while staying competitive in the aviation industry.

It subsequently migrated its business-critical applications to the Cloud to provide passengers with a digital, touchless yet personalized experience when accessing the airline’s online services. The robust cloud platform provided a low latency environment for its online operations and effectively improved the cost efficiency by 60%. 

Respond, adapt and accelerate

To stay on the right side of the K-shaped curve, businesses need to understand that pivoting their business for a post-pandemic world requires sustained action to adapt and accelerate digitalization. This often starts with adopting the right cloud-based infrastructure—especially a hybrid one that can scale to what the business actually needs and can minimize wastage. 

There are three phases we see in which customers react: Respond to the situation at hand, Adapt and Accelerate.

In the ‘adapt’phase, providing employees with applications they need is just a start. Businesses have to consider how to make these apps readily accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device to help employees work better and smarter.

According to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of VMware, the pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption because of the infrastructure’s dependability and flexibility. Most enterprises in the study had to piece together a remote-workforce strategy and purchasing ad hoc technology solutions like collaboration tools and cloud-based virtual desktops.

A quarter of them had purchased a point solution to fill gaps in their existing systems. These strategies acted as a temporary fix, briefly stemming the flow of remote-working challenges but not enough to be a long-term solution.

With remote-working as the new long-term reality, organizations must move with intention toward a more holistic strategy that balances security, productivity and management. An integrated workforce solution eases pandemic burdens and benefits employees as well as the organization by providing end-to-end security; strong technology experiences with seamless access to apps; improved collaboration; and simplified device management for IT.

To fully and truly accelerate for a digital future, all efforts will be futile if businesses do not adopt solutions that are hyper-customized to their business needs. This may appear daunting when many remain chained to legacy infrastructure and a “don’t-fix-it-if-it’s-not-broken” attitude, but with cloud computing advances, it can be very manageable.

A hybrid cloud simply offers the best of both private and public clouds. Businesses can modernize and build new applications without re-architecting the environment they are familiar with, while still being able to tap into the raw computing power of public clouds to manage and improve their operations and processes in a cost-effective way.

Bridging the neo-DX divide

As adoption of cloud computing and emerging technologies accelerates, it will be equally important for organizations to consider who we are leaving behind. Both the public and private sectors must work together to drive digital inclusion and bridge another digital divide between the tech-literate businesses and those that are not.

This can come in the form of strengthening digital literacy programs and initiatives and roping-in larger businesses to help small players including small- and medium- sized enterprises and small retailers to digitalize, because this modernization will decide if they thrives or merely survive.

While it may seem like the worst of the pandemic is over in some parts of the world, we are not yet out of the woods. The K-shaped recovery favors digital leaders over laggards.