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BT and Cisco lift lid on digital transformation acceleration

Research from BT and Cisco indicates just how much the pandemic has pushed along the digital agenda and how the channel is reacting

BT and Cisco have quizzed the channel to get a handle on just what has happened over the past ten months of the pandemic when it comes to gauging the impact on customer digital transformation plans.

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of cloud and forced many customers to shift to remote working and increased collaboration, and the two vendors went to 100 UK channel leaders to get a sense of what that meant about the future .

The BT and Cisco research puts some numbers to that, with 96% of those quizzed reporting that customers are now taking a more strategic approach to digital investments. The vast majority also noted that users are prioritising digital transformation plans for the foreseeable future.

That focus from customers is fuelling optimism in the channel about the prospects for 2021 and beyond. The demand for resilience, flexibility and a strong backbone to deliver improved customer experiences are all reasons why investments will continue.

“The rapid digital acceleration from the outset of the pandemic has started to settle, but the consistently evolving environment means businesses must continue to evaluate how best to progress. We’re seeing a shift in the way channel partners and their customers are considering a long-term strategic approach to digital investments, including permanent changes in working practices for distributed teams of people,” said Gavin Jones, channel sales director of BT’s Wholesale Unit.

“The research indicates a desire and need to handle complex technology via third parties, which presents a huge opportunity for channel growth and, more broadly, bodes well for the technology sector in Britain,” he added.

He said that throughout the past year, BT had been speaking to partners to make sure it could provide the right levels of support so they could react to the evolving landscape.

Chintan Patel, CTO at Cisco UK, said that the initial responses to the pandemic were now developing into more long-term strategies.

“As the pandemic persists, it’s clear that channel partners and their customers are looking to transform their emergency digital responses for the long-term. Channel partners highlighted cost savings through automation, enhanced agility, flexibility and increased security as key strategic benefits,” he said.

It is always hard to predict the future, but there are plenty of commentators sharing the view that remote working levels will remain high even after the pandemic is over.

The BT/Cisco research indicated that flexibility was going to be a key demand going forward, accompanied by increased customer awareness about the need for solid security. A significant number of channel partners (84%) expect the pandemic to change company cultures for the long term.

Justin Coombes, marketing director at Gamma, said that it had to be able to support a hybrid way of working in the future: “New benefits such as expanded talent pools and more flexible working conditions leading to higher productivity are just some of the advantages, so all businesses need to engage with the positive outcomes of hybrid working this year and beyond.”

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