What came first, COVID-19 or the desire for remote working? And what comes next?
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Have you noticed how adaptable many companies have been during the past few months since the outbreak of COVID-19? Everywhere we look, organizations are making sharp pivots in the way that they work, quickly shifting to new remote working realities, handling shortages in staff or resources, and enabling their clients and employees to reach them with the support of truly innovative technologies. But does the data back this up?
What do the numbers say?
One of our busiest months at Cloudshare is October, where we see the majority of trade shows and conferences, causing both environment runtime and the specific number of labs run on our systems to spike as much as 15%.
October is CloudShare’s busiest month with a 15% increase compared to the next highest month
This year however, the environment runtime for April was a startling 12% higher than the numbers from October 2019, and a dramatic 31% higher than April 2019.
L: Env runtime October 2019 vs April 2020; R: Env runtime April 2019 vs April 2020
When it came to the amount of labs running, we saw a 62% increase in labs activity this April than we did during the same period in 2019.
Comparison of the number of labs run in April 2019 vs April 2020
This growth appears to align with broader cloud technologies, as 57% of respondents to the Flexera State of the Cloud Report 2020 agree that cloud usage has grown due to COVID-19.
The real question is, will 2020 be an anomaly or are we looking at the new normal?
It might not be surprising that businesses have turned to cloud technologies to establish smart remote working practices, as cloud deployments can be quickly spun up, are inherently scalable and cost-effective, and offer the flexibility to suit any business use case.
When it comes to remote learning in particular, a virtual lab environment is a real game changer for both training and sales enablement. It allows you to create an immersive environment that’s hands-on and intuitive for the participant. It also provides the owner with a granular level of control over customization, and unparalleled visibility into users’ environments, far more than they might get in a physical learning setting.
Replicated real-world environments can simulate any network topography, from switches and firewalls, to hypervisors through nested virtualization. All of this can be done from any machine with internet access and a web browser, eliminating to travel expenses, hardware investments, and issues of scalability and control.
In fact, keeping all of this in mind, rather than ask whether cloud and virtualization adoption is likely to continue, it might make more sense to ask whether anyone is willing to go back to the way things were? After all, these are not new trends that we’re looking at, or behaviors that have sprung up out of the blue due to the coronavirus alone. Cloud usage is growing every year and showing no signs of slowing down. Within that, the virtual training market is set to grow at a CAGR of more than 13% between 2020 and 2027, and this is an estimate that pre-dates COVID-19.
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Take a step back, and you might feel that the data spike is almost too quick, too filled with relief. While we saw a dip in activity in March as businesses found their feet, the exponential rise in April suggests that they are ready and excited for a fundamental change in the way that they work, and won’t settle for a return to previous expectations, pandemic or no pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated existing problems, prompting IT companies to find new ways of working that suit a cloud-enabled workforce. As a result, here at Cloudshare we predict a continued rise in:
- Remote working: “77% of people want to continue to work from home at least weekly once the pandemic has passed”, according to Kate Lister, president of global workplace analytics. Companies like Twitter and Facebook have jumped to announce permanent new remote working policies since COVID-19 began and we estimate this is just the beginning. The next stage is for more organizations to leverage the technology they need to make this possible.
- Upskilling: According to McKinsey, the coronavirus pandemic has made the upskilling question “more urgent” because of changes to supply chains, shortage of talent, and new skills needed for the distance economy. Businesses will need to find quick ways to encourage staff to learn new skills and ramp them up efficiently.
- Personalization: Finding a way to provide accurate, effective and attentive learning for students has always been a problem. COVID-19 has added distance to the mix, tipping many training professionals over the edge to find a long-needed solution in virtual labs, as mirrored in our data. Training now needs to suit each individual learner in their own environment, in various locations across the globe, while using markedly different hardware, and in keeping with specific learning preferences. Physical learning environments and theoretical study can’t make this happen.
The spikes we’re seeing in our data are indicative of a wider trend across the board for professionals, and not a knee-jerk reaction to the current pandemic. If you’re waiting for work to “return to normal,” you’re likely to be disappointed. On the contrary, employees want to be able to embrace the benefits of virtualization to continue to utilize the cloud and work remotely. They want to take advantage of innovative technologies such as virtual labs to improve the way they approach necessary training and learning. It’s time for you to adapt to the needs of employees and new ways for getting business done more effectively than ever.
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