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The channel is being alerted to some concerns across the industry that some of the buying decisions users made in the first lockdown will not be robust enough for the longer term.
Channel observers have referred to the first lockdown as a period of “reaction”, which is increasingly being followed by a period of “reflection” as users start to assess what decisions need to be made to support their long-term strategy.
Colette Kitterhing, senior director UK&I at Riverbed Technology, summed up the experience of many over the past 10 months: “I think the world could see, past April and May time, that this wasn’t all going to be over in two months, like we’d all hoped. They started to really formulate plans as to what 2020 was going to look like and [going] into 2021.”
Warnings are being sounded for those users that keep going with the “sticking plasters” they attached in March last year to get through the immediate challenges of the pandemic.
Nathan Howe, director of strategic transformation EMEA at Zscaler, is among those that fear some of the short-term fixes of 2020 will undermine the success of the year ahead.
“While trying to adapt quickly to 2020’s challenges, many decisions that were taken to ensure businesses could continue to run have involved the quickest, cheapest, dirtiest options possible. For example, many businesses favoured immediate functionality over security. Unfortunately, we will continue to experience the ramifications of those decisions into the next year,” he said.
“It also became very clear in 2020 that the majority of businesses across all industries needed to adapt their digital strategies to improve business resiliency. To achieve this resiliency in 2021 and beyond, IT will have a greater voice in influencing business decisions at the board level than ever before, as companies race towards the next generation of Industry 5.0 and 6.0.”
Howe echoed the views of many that remote working will remain a feature going forward and, as a result, firms must recognise that they need more permanent responses to demand for workplace flexibility.
“We should no longer be making a distinction between office-based and remote access,” he said. “The shift to remote work imposed by the pandemic has proved that employees can work productively from any location. What matters is that employees can rely on seamless and secure connectivity, regardless of their location. Therefore, companies will start replacing remote access with a consistent, secure access policy that applies wherever the user works and SASE [secure access service edge] provides the foundation.
“Going forward, there will be a growing demand for completely frictionless provisioning of secure and easy-to-use connectivity for businesses and consumers alike. Connectivity as a service will be a key technology demand.”
Transatel has illustrated what that could look like in practice with the launch of its Mobile Workplace Connect, which provides a more secure alternative to the existing VPNs that most users are using and will provide connectivity for a wide range of mobile devices.
“Home or public Wi-Fi, as well as VPN-only security measures, have brought forward the underlying security risks for businesses since the increase of remote work in the context of the global pandemic,” said Jacques Bonifay, CEO at Transatel. “Transatel’s Mobile Workplace Connect offers a simple solution to answer the need for growing data usage and secure remote work, with the added advantage of controlling costs and increased productivity.”