Crisis accelerates digital transformation

The onset of the Covid-19 accelerated the digital transformation of Irish enterprises much faster than planned, says Maurice Mortell from Equinix Ireland.

There is no doubt that had the Covid-19 crisis not struck Ireland the way it had, a lot of unplanned progress in areas like digital commerce and remote working would be months if not years away.

Instead, as firms grappled with a plethora of issues such as enabling and equipping a remote workforce or finding ways of continuing to sell to customers, they had to sink or swim.

“Before Covid-19, the digital journey was still at an embryonic stage for many Irish enterprises. Many businesses have made rapid progress since then, with some cramming five-year digital transformation plans into less than a year or a matter of weeks in some cases”

In recent weeks, Maurice Mortell, managing director of the Irish arm of global data centre giant Equinix, pointed out that Irish enterprises have been propelled into an entirely new way of doing business; one that relies on fast, secure digital connectivity across multiple locations and geographies.

“While many were already well on their way to digitally transforming their operations, none expected their entire business to depend on that progress so soon.”

Connecting to the cloud of clouds

In recent weeks Equinix announced one of its largest expansions of Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric, connecting Irish businesses via a hybrid cloud platform to Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva, Istanbul, Lisbon and Sofia, and extending into Hamburg in Q2 2020.

Designed to support enterprise digital transformation initiatives, ECX Fabric is a global interconnection service available in 45 strategic markets that allows businesses to exchange their data on demand, and between metros through private connections. This capability enables enterprises, network services and cloud providers alike to consistently scale their digital businesses just as rapidly as the digital economy requires it.

Explaining how connection to this cloud of clouds will benefit export-focused Irish enterprises, Mortell said: “The restrictions being implemented by authorities across the world in response to Covid-19 present challenges for businesses, including those looking to scale internationally. By expanding our interconnection service, ECX Fabric, we are helping Irish enterprises to scale into, and reach, even more European markets without requiring a physical presence in them. In doing so, we are ensuring that Irish enterprises do not have to halt their expansion plans due to an inability to reach new markets.”

We decided to ask Mortell more questions about how Irish enterprises’ digital transformation plans have been accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis.

How would you describe the new business environment for scaling firms?

This is a challenging time for all firms. Looking after your staff, customers and facilities are critical during a crisis like this. We are all faced with having to create innovative ways of developing business and new routes to market. Keeping connected with your staff as we return to a more ‘business as usual’ environment is key, so you need to ensure that they all have the right equipment and tools to effectively operate remotely. Customers will have the same issues for their staff, along with needing to understand if their infrastructure is scalable and capable of handling existing and future growth. Interconnection and hybrid cloud gives businesses the ability to scale quickly, securely and with no capital cost.

Would you agree that the crisis has accelerated digital transformation plans of Irish businesses?

Before Covid-19, the digital journey was still at an embryonic stage for many Irish enterprises. Many businesses have made rapid progress since then, with some cramming five-year digital transformation plans into less than a year or a matter of weeks in some cases.  This crisis has highlighted concerns around business continuity and the ability of the business to function normally with the current restrictions in place. A mature, cloud-first strategy utilising an interconnected orientated architecture would ensure that a business stays connected with its staff, customers and prospects at anytime, anywhere and in any location.

What do you think the new world of work will look like post-Covid-19? Will remote working be the norm and will businesses need as much office space?

I believe a hybrid model is most likely to emerge as the norm. Many companies already facilitate working remotely but some functions are more suited to the office. In certain circumstances, individuals cannot work remotely and so there will always be a need for office space. What exactly a hybrid workplace looks like remains to be seen but this crisis will certainly change the model forever.

What is the significance of the new ECX Fabric to scaling Irish enterprises?

The model of choice we are seeing for enterprise adoption of cloud is hybrid cloud. This model gives businesses the option of using multiple cloud service providers that are connected onto our ECX Fabric using high-speed, secure dedicated connections. It gives local enterprises the ability to scale and access new markets at no capital cost. This is unique in its design and there is no other ECX Fabric platform that gives Irish enterprises such global reach.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 26 May, 2020