Five Important Network Lessons for 2021 from the COVID Pandemic

Joanne Lennon Senior Manager, Product Marketing Published 18 Dec 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for many reasons – the personal loss and suffering resulting from the pandemic, and the economic challenges with businesses struggling to survive. My blog, The Cost of Doing Nothing, from July 2020 looked at the impact of the COVID pandemic on technology and the network. Do the five lessons highlighted then still apply?  

The Only Constant is Change

If there’s one takeaway from 2020, it’s this: the only constant in life is change and it is the ability to adapt to change that underpins success and survival. 2020 brought change to how we work, learn, shop, watch, heal, and connect. We witnessed significant technological change, and, equally important, we changed.  

Pause and think back to the start of 2020. How many times, prior to the pandemic, might you have heard or said the following?

  • Working from home is not an option for my company
  • Online learning / tele-health is not secure
  • I don’t trust cloud solutions
  • It takes months, if not years, for network upgrades
  • I need to travel to meet my customer face-to-face
  • The subscription model isn’t a fit for my business

Doing Nothing Was Not an Option

The pandemic shifted attitudes. It forced us to confront pre-conceived ideas and attitudes; instead of focusing on why we couldn’t do something, we focused on how we could. Doing nothing was not an option, so enterprises embraced technology and did things that they previously thought impractical or impossible:

Customer loyalty and how we consume services changed:

While technology may have fueled the ‘new normal,’ it was the change in our attitude and mindset that made it happen.  The technology was already there; the pandemic forced us to embrace it.

Lessons from 2020

Do the five lessons highlighted in July, summarized below, still apply? Yes.

  1. Technology Matters: Technology and the network were the lifeline of every organization in 2020, fueling unprecedented advancement.
  2. Digital Adopters fared better: Companies further along in their digital transformation journeys adjusted faster and more seamlessly during the pandemic. As Gartner highlighted earlier this year Now Is the Time to Accelerate Digital.
  3. The Value of Cloud: Cloud services were our savior in 2020, facilitating everything from remote working, online learning, telehealth, entertainment, fitness, and more. COVID showed us that cloud is the network of the future.
  4. Data is King: We saw first-hand in 2020 the urgent need to quickly gather and analyze data on the virus. Data fueled the world’s response to the pandemic and how businesses responded.
  5. The Need to Think Differently: 2020 forced us to question the status quo, to re-imagine who we are, how we operate, how we grow. It required us to throw out old ideas and thinking; and embrace new ideas, approaches, and technologies.

Future Forward

As the Royal Bank of Canada aptly summarizes in 8 Ways COVID Will Transform the Economy and Disrupt Every Business  “no matter how humbling this crisis has been, it should remind us that even a massive jolt to the planet cannot change the trajectory of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If anything, we’re emerging from this crisis with an even greater desire to harness smart technologies, artificial intelligence, and vast pools of data to transform pretty much everything we do. COVID did not crush the future. It merely brought it forward.”

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