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Covid success story: Telstra

By Matt Williams, Head of EMEA, Telstra

Wed 23, 09 2020

Over the last decade, with the likes of Uber, Monzo and Netflix dominating and disrupting traditional industries, we’ve seen first-hand the revolutionary potential of digital transformation. The acceleration of digital technology has become a buzzword yet again in 2020 with the emergence of Covid-19. The pandemic has sped up several incubating trends over the last four months and digital is now a universal requirement for every business that remains in business today. It is also the means to productivity and resilience from future crises and shocks.

Digital transformation is more than enabling state of readiness and remote working, it offers a choice to employees and the public at large of being able to work and play wherever it suits. This has been a benefit for many throughout global lockdown. The explosion in the demand for data has set new records and telecommunications companies, like Telstra, have been working around the clock to maintain international networks.

Online streaming traffic is a major growth area as people wanted to stay entertained with services such as Netflix and well-educated with 24 hour news broadcasts. Telstra has seen international data demand surge by up to 50% since the start of the pandemic; due to the use of video in work, play and education, and large-scale Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption from companies moving businesses online. Telstra keeps the network alive and thriving, due to sufficient capacity and headroom which caters for unexpected traffic peaks.

Aside from a high capacity network, supporting the world’s ability to work remotely requires cloud, mobility and data. Telstra works with a number of global companies and organisations to actively support these areas. For businesses around the world, the use of function applications accessible by the workforce from the cloud, has enabled businesses to continue. Furthermore, teams can use data and AI to create new customer experiences. Digital technology allows various companies to work in disruptive environments. In one case, Telstra developed an online solution to enable 4,000 university students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology learn and access courses from home, despite location.

Prior to the pandemic, significant investment was made by businesses for setting a transformation roadmap strategy, selecting technology to enable this and setting goals for minimising cost and risk. Priorities changed when Covid-19 hit. At Telstra, we worked with research company, GlobalData, to understand these changes.

One of the most surprising elements was almost a third of the workforce in Europe couldn’t work from home. Companies had no contingency plan to compete with the rest of the world. 80% of businesses have since reprioritised ICT budgets to improve and are now migrating to the cloud, standardising workplace solutions, introducing new online tools to aid productivity and helping staff adjust to working from home.

Surprisingly, when asked whether there would be increased reliance on video conferencing post Covid-19. 100% were in agreement, despite it being rare to get a consensus of opinion. This indicates video conferencing and digital transformation are not trends but are here to stay.

With digital transformation comes increased security risk. Research shows it is our own employees that create this risk. To mitigate this, policy, training and instilling a culture of security can ensure awareness and compliance. Connectivity is our lifeline right now and with businesses and employees being distributed more widely across many points across the network that underpins transformation, controlling access requires more security.

Telstra’s approach to supporting customers in their digital transformation journeys remains the same as it was before the pandemic. The strategy to devising a successful digital transformation plan and implementation is to put people first, above processes and technology, to understand what they want to achieve.

In a post-Covid world, our infrastructure must move with our people and be strategic. Companies currently at the start of their business transformation journey must begin by accelerating migration to the cloud, invest in videoconferencing tools and choose tools and applications that allow staff and customers to collaborate and socialise which has, and will, continue to speed up tech adoption.

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