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.

Discussing how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact and do business, Oracle MD Niral Patel said that digital transformation 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, Patel said the business moved its workforce to operate remotely a week before the lockdown was announced in SA. The business 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 the backbone of their business are flourishing, he said, adding that there has been an increase in the uptake of autonomous technologies in recent months.

The three important points companies are 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 announced 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 Johan Pretorius, general manager for enterprise performance management at MTN. Though most companies adapted quickly to working remotely, many discovered that their operating models were not well suited to working remotely.

It’s 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.”

Oracle cloud sales leader Shireen Pillay said companies require data to be easily accessible at all times given that they need this data to make strategic decisions. A data-driven approach, she added, provides businesses with better solutions. What’s important, however, is to use insights from the data to take advantage of data-driven applications. 

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

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