COVID-19: drives Canadian businesses to adopt more cloud
COVID-19 has impacted nearly every facet of our lives, particularly how businesses use technology. For example, soon after the pandemic began, we saw the rise in remote work. This caused many demand spikes in internet traffic including with one of the world’s busiest internet interconnection hubs in Frankfurt, Germany reporting a new all-time traffic peak in mid-March. Many organizations were already adopting digital transformation strategies to become more flexible and efficient. But the pandemic has accelerated that process.
Earlier this year, Aptum conducted a survey of 400 senior IT decision makers in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., across a range of industries, to see how their technology use had been affected by COVID-19. Not surprisingly, most respondents said cloud computing had become very important to their businesses. In Canada, nearly seven out of 10 decision makers (69 per cent) identified cloud as being important to them.
In fact, 51 per cent of Canadians surveyed strongly agreed cloud computing was essential to the financial security of their organizations, significantly more than the 40 per cent of global respondents who felt similarly. The level of strategic importance Canadian business leaders placed on the cloud translated into confidence in cloud solutions to help organizations maintain business continuity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-three per cent of Canadian respondents said they had used cloud services to provide their customers with critical services, compared to 48 per cent globally. And 77 per cent said they had used the cloud to enable their remote workforces.
To take full advantage of the insights data can deliver requires organizations to capture information effectively and ensure it’s available when and where it’s needed. In particular, this means businesses should invest in security and disaster recovery. Our survey found Canadian business leaders recognize the importance of both. When asked what their business driver for cloud was, 62 per cent cited increased security, while 53 per cent said business continuity.
Shifting to the cloud can speed up digital transformation for organizations, reduce costs and increase productivity. But none of those outcomes are guaranteed. The companies that have the most success in the cloud, map their business objectives closely to their cloud infrastructure, ensuring they have the right cloud technologies to meet their goals.
This was reflected in the survey responses. Many Canadian business leaders said they have trouble picking the cloud solution that’s right for them, with 72 per cent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreeing that complexity and abundant choice make selecting the right cloud strategy difficult, compared to 62 per cent of global survey participants.
Similarly, a large majority of Canadian respondents (77 per cent) wanted to accelerate cloud adoption but needed help or expertise to make it happen, compared to 69 per cent globally.
Specific cloud adoption hurdles cited by Canadian business leaders included:
- Getting full visibility into all their cloud environments through a single portal (23 per cent)
- Control and governance of access to cloud environments (25 per cent)
- A clear mechanism to detect and respond to security threats across all cloud environments (24 per cent)
It’s encouraging to see Canadian organizations relying on the cloud for mission-critical business functions. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to a more flexible, remote work environment and we don’t foresee that shift reversing. Many of our customers are devoting more time and resources to supporting technologies such as communication and collaboration tools, mobile devices, and security.
There’s no way to know exactly what work life will look like after the pandemic. But at Aptum, we believe data-driven insights will help the economy recover from the wreckage created by COVID-19. Organizations that invest in digital transformation and a data-centric business approach will be a step ahead.
However, as our survey shows, businesses need to plan carefully to take full advantage of the flexibility the cloud gives them. Different types of data are better suited to different cloud environments. For example, driverless cars rely on a constant stream of data to accurately travel roads. That data needs to be processed at the network edge where there’s less delay because it has to be interpreted and acted upon in near real-time. On the other hand, data such as medical records may only be accessed once every several years, allowing it to be stored far off in the cloud because speed isn’t as important.
When looking to take full advantage of the cloud and move to a data-centric model, businesses should consider this: The key to success is to start with the business problem you’re trying to solve and not with the technology you’re hoping to adopt. The questions don’t need to be complicated. Some examples would be:
- Who owns the data in our organization?
- What does our existing IT infrastructure look like?
- How often is data being accessed?
- How secure does the data need to be?
Once those questions are answered, the organization will have a better understanding of which cloud solutions are best suited to different data sets and applications and can build a hybrid cloud architecture that reduces their operational burden, boosts efficiency and improves productivity.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.