What the current shift in technology demand tells us about UC&C’s importance to business
COVID-19, and the lockdown that ensued, has made many businesses rethink where and how they are investing their money. When the UK lockdown was announced back in March, many organisations had to not only adapt and mobilise their workforce using new technologies, but had to do it in a fast and efficient manner in order to keep operations ongoing.
Months later, we’re seeing that remote working at scale can actually be a huge success, and the buying habits of these businesses are proving that we can expect to see a shift towards long-term home working after COVID-19 has passed. But what technologies are most in demand as a result?
Collaboration is a priority
In our recent survey, respondents were asked to rank the top three Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies that they are currently investing in. With 25% of the overall vote, collaboration software came out on top. Its vast availability, speed of supply and remote upgrade capabilities are more important now than they have ever been, fueled by the full lockdown that has forced many to work from remote locations.
The report also shows that businesses are placing an increased emphasis on collaboration hardware, and understandably so. If a company is investing significant amounts into its software, then it also requires the hardware to facilitate its effective performance. There is little use in giving your employees and colleagues the software to communicate with each other if they don’t have the necessary hardware to do so.
From the same survey, 13% of respondents anticipate that there will be significant investments in home office equipment as a result of COVID-19. Demand has gone through the roof since lockdown was first introduced as largely unprepared workforces look to get up and running from home as quickly and effectively as possible. Where the vast majority of the country would normally only work from home sporadically, it has now become a full-time role. This is inevitably going to increase the demand for home office equipment, whether that be for personal or professional use.
Concerns over availability
With the increasing demand for software, hardware, and home office equipment, availability becomes a prevalent issue. Increased demand can put a strain on supply chains in the best of times, but at the height of a pandemic, these problems have been amplified significantly.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, manufacturing of many products ground to a halt as factories were forced to close down temporarily. Lockdown clogged up supply and distribution channels all over the world as a result. It became harder to transport goods and deliver them quickly. This inevitably made it incredibly difficult for suppliers to keep up with demand, leaving many with either long wait times, or goods being out of stock for long periods.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the availability of kit, speed of supply, and the ability to upgrade existing hardware, have all become major concerns for respondents - an attitude which has quite literally transformed in the last few months. In February, these considerations scored zero amongst respondents. However, by April, this figure rose to 17% - demonstrating the clear shift in priorities during the remote working period.
Many have now realised the necessity of collaboration, and they have been focused on improving their ability to operate remotely as lockdown has set in.
Preparing for the future
It’s difficult to know exactly what our businesses will look like in the not-so distant future. However, with various financial considerations at play, it is clear that many businesses are prioritising investment in areas that they feel are totally necessary. The general focus has been turned to the short-term, ensuring that investment is streamlined in areas that will keep employees connected and businesses operative - such as UC&C.
While a lot of companies may see current investment in UC&C as a quick fix to immediate challenges, the truth is that having access to the best collaborative tools available can really future proof a business. It allows employees to work from home flexibly, saves travel costs and can even save the need for office space. Many anticipate that we are going to see a shift from working at home being a ‘professional inconvenience’, to becoming a ‘professional normality’.
The sustained lockdown period is proving to businesses that their employees have the capability to work from home in an effective manner, and are subsequently investing in the technologies to not only make working from home easier, but will allow them to thrive in the future of work - whatever that may look like.