With new hopes for a Covid-19 vaccine sweeping the world, it’s no surprise business leaders would turn their sights to post-pandemic growth.
However many of these priorities pre-date and transcend the pandemic itself. While the pandemic forced plenty of businesses into reactive fixes to enable remote working, maintain business continuity and reduce costs, many medium- to long-term goals look a lot like they did before the global crisis.
Potentially the biggest difference today is stakes look much higher, especially given the Global Economic Uncertainty Index recorded some of its highest ever results over the past year. Businesses already risked disruption before, but wide-scale volatility means that today’s long-term decisions carry more consequence.
A recent white paper by Telstra and Omdia, Prioritising Diversity, Digital and Intelligence in a Post-Pandemic World, explores those long-term decisions and strategies. It found technologies will define multi-national companies, and the pandemic has only accelerated their digital agendas.
But which technologies are they prioritising, and why?
Edge computing and services
Enterprises rank edge computing and 5G as their top two planned digital technology investments, according to the 1,800 global organisations polled for the white paper. While those technologies are different, many of their advantages overlap or work in tandem.
One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic has been the more digitalised an enterprise, the more resilient it tends to be during a crisis. However, many enterprises are still struggling to achieve the right ICT architecture and to extract and apply meaningful insights from data.
They’ll need low-latency connections to manage larger and larger volumes of data from increasingly distributed operations and devices, especially in verticals like manufacturing, healthcare and mining.
As a result, many are expecting to move at least some data processing and applications to the edge, where data analytics and artificial intelligence can deliver faster, deeper insights.
Like edge computing, it’s not 5G technology itself that will be transformative but rather the applications and services it enables. From industrial automation to augmented reality and self-driving vehicles, 5G enterprise applications will be vital to achieving business goals like cost optimisation, enhanced security, and better digital experiences.
Perhaps most important to verticals like mining or healthcare, 5G will drive deployment of IoT solutions, working hand-in-glove with edge computing to deliver seamless, near real-time insights into operations and assets across countries and continents. That geographic spread will be an even bigger consideration for the many enterprises looking to expand into new markets, one of the top long-term strategies for post-pandemic growth.
As operations become more and more distributed, low-latency connections and data sharing will become even more crucial for competitive advantage. As a result, so will 5G-enabled services.
Of course, those in the B2C space also have strong incentives to prioritise 5G. Achieving true omnichannel customer experiences remains a major challenge for many enterprises, and 5G is likely to play a big role in enhanced customer service and retail experiences.
|Most in-demand technologies|
|1||Edge computing/services 15.6%|
|2||5G-enabled services 15.5%|
|3||Mobility infrastructure/middleware 14.8%|
|4||Mobile applications 14.6%|
|5||Network services 14%|
|6||Collaboration tools 13.6%|
Source: Omdia (2020)
Covid-19 has mostly accelerated business priorities and strategies, not completely redefined them. But the biggest counterpoint to that theory is the virtual workforce.
While many enterprises were already building an agile, mobile workforce – and tended to benefit most during the early days of the pandemic – mobile-first approaches might be its longest-lasting legacy in the business world. Culturally and operationally, it reshaped how we think about the workplace almost overnight.
It makes sense then mobility infrastructure and mobile applications rank almost as high as 5G and edge computing. Digital leaders will continue investing in resilient networks to cater to consumer expectations, and to ensure employees can access corporate applications securely from any device. This squares with other in-demand technologies, including network services and collaboration tools.
Creating value through technology in a post-pandemic world
For years, businesses have known they’re at risk of disruption, but the pandemic has rapidly entrenched digital advantages and transformed large parts of the global workforce.
Some reactive solutions may be compatible with enterprises’ long-term strategy and investments – especially those deployed to empower workers with greater mobility and data insights. But enterprises will need to refocus their long-term goals to withstand ongoing economic uncertainty and build resilience to the next black swan event.
So how do your investments and priorities stack up?
Find out other top technologies getting the most investment, along with digital leaders’ post-pandemic growth strategies and challenges, in the white paper, Accelerating Value Creation: Prioritising Diversity, Digital and Intelligence in a Post-Pandemic World.