A recent study from Citrix confirms what many have suggested — even if the COVID-19 pandemic were to disappear overnight, not everyone would be returning to the office in the way they did before it started.
Among the 3,700 IT decision-makers worldwide surveyed on behalf of Citrix (including more than 500 Canadians), three quarters said all their employees wouldn’t be returning to the office in the wake of COVID-19, about the same number said the reaction to the pandemic had fueled an acceleration of their digital transformation strategy, with almost two-thirds reporting they were speeding up their move to the cloud.
Ed Rodriguez, vice president of sales and general manager of Citrix Canada, said those numbers support the reality that he and his team are seeing every day in (socially distant) meetings and conversations with customers.
“It’s really showing that there’s going to be a long tail here with folks working from home, and even more pointedly, it’s showing that some percentage of workers will never go back — that this will be permanent,” Rodriguez told ChannelBuzz.ca.
Yes, the potential reduction in cost from having to take on less office space is tempting to the C-suite and likely part of what’s fueling this desire to make the change permanent. But Rodriguez said there’s more than savings on the line. He reported that customers, especially those invested in collaboration tools and making some shifts in their processes are “seeing a gain in certain aspects of productivity.”
“They’re seeing solid engagement, and more and quicker interaction [amongst employees] than in the past,” Rodriguez said.
With work-from-home becoming the norm long term, Rodriguez said it will be important for solution providers to “understand how people work from home” — a subject many are no doubt getting an education on right now, both on the professional and personal levels. That means adjusting expectations and processes to allow for “the more fragmented moments of time they’re working,” endorsing tools that assist in maximizing productivity in those fragmented moments, and enhancing the different security requirements of a primarily remote workforce.
“We’ve really seen the channel step up in several different ways,” Rodriguez said.
Among those built around consultancy, that’s meant engaging with customers around building out infrastructure for remote workforces and crafting “more robust business continuity plans” than many clients had in the past. And among those built around resale, Rodriguez sees an opportunity for partners to go deeper on a vertical or industry level and becoming a thought leader.
“It’s about how does a higher education client, for example, go from a place where shared PCs were a norm in labs, to a place where all of that needs to be virtualized, and becoming a thought leader in that,” he said.
While Rodriguez said Citrix’s “organization, motion, and mission” haven’t been changed by the changing priorities of customers, he said that the company will move more towards zero-trust in its offerings.
“If we treat every employee like a remote employee from day zero, and make sure they have all the tools they need to do that securely, you can up not caring about what device they’re on,” Rodriguez said.
The acceleration of digital transformation, and perhaps the reinvention of what that term means, is something solution providers should keep an eye on, Rodriguez suggested, as an industry-wide phenomenon. On average, poll respondents said their reaction to the pandemic and subsequent changes made had put their digital transformation strategy, and their consumption of cloud-based services, forward by about 1.3 years.
“That’s’ a lot more utilization of cloud services, and not just ours,” he said.