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Faster to the Future: Transformation Stories From Future-Ready Organisations
September 25, 2020 News


It’s amazing how a pandemic can change the entire world. From the way we work, travel and even communicate, everything has evolved into a new experience. For businesses, being able to remain relevant and competitive with the changes was probably the biggest challenge they faced in their history.

Remote working became the necessary new normal to adhere to. Web conferencing applications became valuable tools of communication while cybersecurity protection became a higher priority for all organisations. While tech companies like VMware continue to help businesses deal with the changes and develop their applications to better suit the new reality, they themselves had to deal with the same challenges.

Bruce Davie, VP and CTO, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware highlighted some of the challenges organisations faced and how they were able to overcome them with VMware. Be it a telco provider, airline manufacturer or bank, having the right applications, as well as the mindset to deal with the pandemic, allowed these organisations to transform and adapt for the future.

Siddharth Kumar, Head of IT Infrastructure, Spark New Zealand, explained how SD-WAN is enabling their call centre employees to work remotely. The telecommunications company is also looking at automation from the optical layer to the Edge, ensuring the process ticks off the right needs. He added that VMware NSX plays a key part in data centre modernisation with the changes in the data centre from a command-line approach to being fully automated.

“For IT and telco workloads to coexist, the approach is totally different. Businesses have to be able to adapt to the telco workload. When we automate the network, we have to look where are the delays, the risks involved and being able to have the needed skills because, from a convergence point, IT and telco skills are very different”, explained Siddharth.

According to Choon Boon Tan, Managing Director, Cloud Engineering and Services, DBS T&O Division, Singapore, the digital transformation for the bank started seven years ago after a trigger from the disruption in other industries.

Learning from the tech companies, Choon said for businesses to be successful in their transformation, they have to transform digitally right to the core and not just the surface. For DBS Bank, they changed the way they run and operate tech as well as redefined the experience for customers. Some of the transformations included aggressively modernising their stacks from 96.7% physical footprint seven years ago to 99% virtualised operating systems today.

At the same time, Choon stated that customer engagement during the lockdown period has also increased with over 200,000 new customers recorded from March to July 2020. The bank also recorded an increase in online application use.

“The cloud will form the key pillars of our strategy. We are looking at both the hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. For the hybrid cloud, we are creating a supporting container framework so that we can move container workloads in a simple way across hybrid cloud. For the multi-cloud, we want to be able to consume public cloud services especially in the AI and ML space and to protect data in the environment”, said Choon.

While air travel has taken a beating from the pandemic, Carlo K Nizam, CIO, Airbus India and South Asia pointed out that they still had to make sure their employees were able to work remotely. Virtual computing allowed their employees to work remotely. However, the challenge they faced was a shortage of laptops for all the employees during the lockdown. The company had to secure their workstations and provide additional UPS devices to support their remote working employees.


The New Normal Post-COVID-19

The second half of 2020 is very different from the first half. Businesses are now slowly trying to bounce back from the pandemic. While most employees are still working remotely, some are slowly making their way back to their offices as well.

Carlo hopes that the changes made during the pandemic, especially in embracing digital transformation, continues as there have been many positives that have come out from it. For Airbus, he explained that their teams have adapted to the challenge.

“We need to be careful about how to keep the engagement with our customers and employees as well as the way we lead. Leadership and engagement have to evolve to a new context and should not go back to the way things were”, added Carlo.

Siddharth echoed Carlo saying that businesses now increasingly engaging with people and employees. Employees are feeling a lot more connected to remote working. More importantly, the priorities for businesses will also change post-COVID-19.

“The future of remote working is going to be based on one fundamental tenet: Trust”, said Siddharth.


Reducing Carbon Footprints

Interestingly, despite all the challenges of the pandemic, one positivity from this was the reduction of a businesses’ carbon footprint. Almost all industries saw a reduction in carbon footprints when lockdowns were imposed.

For example, software-defined computing allowed Airbus to not only save cost but also cut down on their carbon emissions. DBS Bank sees a holistic approach to sustainability. Not only did they managed to reduce their data centre by 75%, but their new data centre has 10 times the capacity to grow even though it’s just 25% bigger.

As the telco industry generally consumes a lot of power, Spark cuts down wherever they can especially with legacy systems being the biggest consumer of power in the data centre. They also reuse and recycle their products by donating laptops to schools and communities as well as work with providers to see where they can reuse and recycle other infrastructure.