As working-from-home becomes the ‘new’ normal, chief technology officers are trying to figure out how to securely extend their business platforms and tools to employees distributed far beyond the traditional workplace.

Certainly, there is no question that enterprises will sink or swim by their ability to adapt to this changing paradigm. Cloud technology is under a new spotlight as a ‘must-have’ for successful digital transformation and being prepared for the ‘next normal’ – and the normal after that. Pointing out that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact and do business, Niral Patel, MD of Oracle said digital transformation was an issue that is top of mind for every board. What was previously a plan or strategy for the future is now being put into practice at a rapid rate. Patel was speaking at a recent Business Day Focus 4.0 Live digital event in partnership with Oracle.

From Oracle’s own perspective, he revealed, the business moved its workforce to operate remotely a week before the lockdown was announced in South Africa. The business, said Patel, has been re-architected to form an application perspective to take advantage of Cloud platforms.

In the customer space the importance of reliable data has been emphasised, allowing companies to make smarter and more effective decisions. Those customers who have ensured that digital is a core backbone of their business are flourishing, he said, adding that recent months have seen increase in the uptake of autonomous technologies.

The three crucial points companies are currently having to consider include their data strategy, cybersecurity and choice of deployment. “Digital transformation is not about a one size fits all approach as far as Oracle is concerned but rather about finding the right fit for each client based on a good understanding of their business,” said Patel. Patel concluded by announcing that Oracle plans to establish a localised data centre in SA.

For companies to remain competitive requires agility and staying abreast of technological developments, said general manager for Enterprise Performance Management at MTN, Johan Pretorius. However, although most companies adapted quickly to working remotely, many discovered that their operating models were not well suited to working remotely.

It is important, he said, to link business and IT strategies so that together they deliver in an agile and incremental way. At the same time it’s important to take your people on the digital transformation journey. “Employees are key stakeholders in this journey. Not only do they need to be kept informed but they also need to be upskilled along the way.”

Cloud sales leader at Oracle, Shireen Pillay said companies require data to be easily accessible at all time given that they need this data in order to make strategic decisions. A data driven approach, she added, provides businesses with better solutions. Key, however, is to use insights from the data to take advantage of data driven applications.

Some of the biggest challenges around cloud adoption, said Pillay, are around security. It’s important to implement secure tools given the increased prevalence of cyber criminals. Other challenges, she added, are around companies lacking cloud resources and expertise.

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