Coronavirus has increased the speed and complexity of cost-reduction. So, how can you still achieve infrastructure transformation without upfront investment?

Wouter Belmans, director: consulting, at BT, shares his insights.

The infrastructure of large organisations is often not up to the speed of change they’re experiencing in the business.

This challenge manifests itself in three ways:

* Digitisation – the need for new levels of bandwidth, new service level agreements (SLAs), new volumes and new topologies, increased speed of change.

* Cloud migration – the need to optimise speed, cost and flexibility when accessing cloud infrastructure and applications.

* Security – the need to protect against rising cybercrime, which profits in a fast-changing environment.

Following the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, organisations have gone through a change with unprecedented speed.

For us, the first wave was about helping our customers manage the huge and swift adjustments they needed to make, such as setting up employees to work from home, giving them VPN access, providing collaboration licences and making things secure.

Now that’s done, organisations are considering the next phase. From conversations we’re having with our customers, three things seem top-of-mind for CIOs:

* Cost savings – most companies have seen a slowdown in terms of business over the last few months. As such, cost savings are high on the priority list and CIOs are working hard to figure out where they can give money back to the business. Infrastructure is part of the picture which needs to be considered.

* Liquidity – many organisations are facing the reality of running low on cash. This means that when it comes to considering transformation plans, upfront investment needs to be low.

* Uncertainty – many questions about the future remain unanswered. Organisations are wondering what their economic outlook will be; how many people they’re going to need; and how these will spend their time between office and home. In a recent Fortune survey, over 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs listed uncertainty (over business continuity and vulnerability, as well as demand for products and services) as one of their top three concerns.

Most businesses already had infrastructure transformation in their plans. But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has increased urgency and added the complication of having to reduce costs faster, with minimal upfront investment. Moreover, any IT investment needs to be flexible to allow for different future scenarios. Accelerated cloud adoption is largely driven by this need for flexibility.

We’ve worked with many global organisations on their infrastructure transformation rollouts and the learnings and experience we’ve gained from these projects have been invaluable.

Through our client work we have also identified two main aspects that are critical to any network transformation roll-out, which include:

* A highly flexible network solution offering – one which gives you the opportunity to transform your network with SD-WAN with zero upfront investment. This way, you get agility with a quick implementation. You can also scale up or scale down sites and bandwidth without penalties.

* A collaborative partner – one who is willing and able to work with you to quickly – in 3 to 4 weeks – build a transformation plan and a business case which covers where you are today, how quick it could be to implement and includes the level of cost savings you can expect to get from your investment case.

But the approach isn’t just about fixing short-term commercial issues. The focus is also on innovation. In close collaboration with you, your chosen partner should craft a technology roadmap that’s designed to deliver the business outcomes you want to achieve.

Much of the innovation is about data, analytics and automation – considering things like automation tooling, service intelligence and application insight – to improve efficiency and deliver continuous improvement.

It’s about the end-to-end journey, and you should look to partner with a provide that offers smart and transformative solutions – from the commercials and business case, to the innovation, roadmap and service – to meet your specific goals and help you show fast cost savings, while also taking the risk out of your transformation.