Throughout history, times of change and disruption have brought with them innovation. Take the pre-war industrial advancements that fuelled the First Connective Revolution: telegraph lines, railways, electricity, and telephones. Collectively, they made the world a little smaller.
The Second Connective Revolution came in the 50s, with mainframe computing and the internet. International flights were also more affordable and comfortable. You could now speak to, or even visit, most of the world.
Now, I believe we’re on the cusp of a Third Connective Revolution. Some of it will be health-focused, to curb the spread or return of Covid-19, and to generally adopt a more sanitised lifestyle – but there are also environmental factors that will be considered as businesses become more climate conscious and strive to reduce their carbon footprint. Something all of us need to be thinking and acting on.
The final change, and the one I want to focus on however, is around people and technology. With more and more businesses embracing digital collaboration, companies can finally acknowledge that if the talent is right for the job, the location doesn’t matter; it looks like hybrid working is here to stay.
To bring true hybrid working to reality, adopting a cloud-based digital workplace is going to be essential to enable employees to connect with the business, access files, and streamline processes, regardless of where they’re located. Facilitating employees to work in this way only increases productivity, by eliminating the time-drain of commuting and allowing for more time to actually get on with things – and makes sure you’ve got the right person for the job.
Multi-cloud, where businesses are run across a network of two or more cloud vendors, is also coming to the forefront as companies adjust to this new way of working.
Cloud challenges for multinationals
The challenges for multinational organisations arise with the geopolitics around employee data sovereignty, and, in turn, cloud usage. This is just one of the occasions when multi-cloud platforms can be particularly useful.
Take the differences in data laws between the East and West, for example. On one side you have most of Europe and the US, who will happily allow citizens to store their data within Google, Microsoft, or anywhere else they decide. However, in some countries, like China, Russia, or Nigeria, they have specific requirements that state that the data must be stored on servers within the country itself, creating a huge headache for corporations to overcome as they expand into new territories or take on new employees.
Similarly, some territories just prefer, or trust, one cloud over the other, so the Japanese head office might be solely on Google, whereas the German branches are on Microsoft. This might seem inconvenient, as in all honesty, there are benefits to being on the same platform suite as your colleagues, including improved communication and collaboration, but there are also many benefits of a multi-cloud solution.
Productivity suites, such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, have recognised that companies and even individuals utilise certain features within their products to suit their needs, resulting in a well-integrated platform. Fewer restrictions improves collaboration and productivity. Therefore, more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of the multi-cloud approach.
Mergers and acquisitions
The past couple of years have been hard for some businesses, with some sectors being hit much harder than others. Whilst this may seem to imply that bigger businesses would be more frugal with their spending, it also means that there are opportunities to acquire or merge with other companies in their sector, strengthening their position in the long run. When mergers and acquisitions take place, there can be a huge surge to get everyone using the same processes and standards. One of these steps can be moving all users to the same platform.
Migrating to one platform is often the long-term goal following a merger, as it will ultimately increase efficiency for companies and their IT departments. A successful migration will enable employees to benefit from increased collaboration, while safely storing data in one place and assisting with internal communication, file sharing, open documents and changing email signatures will all be streamlined into a much simpler process for employees.
Data migration has a 99.9% success rate, so businesses can trust the fact that their sensitive data will be migrated safely and securely. Further benefits include keeping control of licence costs, automatic onboarding and offboarding and an overall better control over a growing workforce.
However, in the short-term, a multi-cloud solution is not necessarily a bad thing. Allowing employees to remain on their current platform during times of significant change can help to streamline the merging process, as people are not required to get to grips with a new platform while also potentially onboarding new business practices. It’s wise for companies to carefully consider how they will eventually manage the migration process, and work with a reputable provider, rather than rushing into anything.
Interoperability between Google and Microsoft
You may think that choosing between Google or Microsoft is an either/or choice because they just aren’t compatible. We have all had issues converting a Word Doc to a Google Doc, or other format. But that simply is not true anymore.
Both Google and Microsoft have been working hard to include added interoperability between the two suites. For example, you can open a Microsoft Word or Excel file in their Google counterpart and work on it seamlessly. Microsoft files can also be saved in Google Drive.
There are limitations of course, but the fact that both platforms have started working on better interoperability can only be good news for users.
The future of the digital workplace
The tech sector has been leading the way in remote working for some time, but even we are going to have to up our game. Just like the resources of the world were brought to bear on the vaccine, so will they be harnessed in making this new globalisation a reality. Issues with long-distance workers will be ironed out, new processes will be developed, software will spring up, and leaders will emerge.
Just as world wars fuelled the need for change and revolution, so has the Covid-19 pandemic. Innovation in the tech sector has accelerated as we’ve been forced to adjust to a new way of living and working. Really, when it comes to remote working, adopting a multi-vendor solution is just the tip of the iceberg, albeit a great first step when it comes to creating a truly global working environment.