With 2021 starting at an unrelenting - and at times already, unforgiving - pace, the channel is once again gearing up for a year of sizeable change, fierce challenges and increased uncertainty.
Despite vaccine optimism - mirroring all markets across the world - Indian businesses continue to navigate the stormy waters of Covid-19, placing new pressures on the ecosystem as a result.
Yogesh Gupta - Executive Editor of IDG India - outlines how leading system integrators and technology providers responded during the early phases of the pandemic, documenting areas of best practice and future opportunities ahead.
Digital Track Solutions
In assessing the disruptive nature of Covid-19 in India, ST Muneer Ahamed - speaking as managing director of Digital Track Solutions - cited the ongoing importance of prioritising business continuity and sustainability during such challenging times.
“This must happen and be in place at all times in any situation, both good and bad,” Ahamed added. “Sustainability is very important as businesses need to restrict and tighten expenses to keep a check on cash flow. Now is also perhaps a good time to step back and enable ourselves with new products and technologies.”
For Ahamed, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and collaboration tools continue to be the leading technologies in demand across all sectors in India. In response, Digital Track Solutions ran campaigns to win market share within the collaboration space, while deepening AI capabilities at the start of the pandemic in March.
“We also rolled out ready-made work-from-home kits, combining various products and technologies to provide one solutions for the customer,” Ahamed added. “Before Covid-19, we were moving on-premises infrastructure to the cloud but during the early months of the pandemic we also explored security products. Customers started to request multi-factor authentication solutions for VPN users as well as user behaviour monitoring solutions and security offerings specific to data centre and SD-WAN requirements.”
Founded in 2004, Chennai-based Digital Track Solutions operates as a new-age IT Infrastructure management services provider, with expertise in storage optimisation, cloud migration and security, in addition to networking, collaboration, virtualisation and data centre technologies among others.
Macaws Infotech Services
According to Manasi Saha - CEO of Macaws Infotech Services - now is the time for the channel to maintain enough financial provisions to ensure survive for at least three years, accommodating for any future downturns related to the pandemic.
“There have been many important learnings from Covid-19,” Saha recalled. “Firstly, we are defenceless against any natural disasters, epidemics or pandemics. We must always have a plan in place for disaster management. But employees and customers continue to be the strong pillars of any business and remain the leading supporters in our success.”
In operating as a cyber specialist, Kolkata-based Macaws naturally advocates that customers continue to strengthen security capabilities during the months ahead with a specific focus on protecting company data and assets.
“Customers must shield themselves from the vagaries of the ‘new normal’ work ambience,” Saha explained. “Develop a strong BYOD or CYOD [bring / choose your own device] policy supported by a tele-working policy. Remote desktop also remains a strong concept to adopt with work conducted via Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, without employees being able to download data and information onto devices.”
Delving deeper, Saha acknowledged that organisations are increasingly setting up two-factor authentication across IT infrastructure, supported by reconfiguring work-from-home arrangements and backing up data. This is in addition to rolling out cloud-based anti-virus solutions and ensuring phishing protection is enhanced.
“Business continuity was a priority but this needs to keep pace with security, including the importance of online safety for all stakeholders and secure authentication through VPN,” Saha added. “In addition to ensuring bandwidth for users, customers must continue to conduct proper assessments of production servers and all operating systems and applications to ensure up-to-date patching.”
Drawing on 30 years of enterprise experience, CDP India goes to market as a leading provider of IT infrastructure, data centre and networking technologies, backed by an expanding portfolio of cloud, security and end-user computing solutions.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” outlined Nikesh Sakaria, chairman and managing director of CDP India. “With Covid-19 forcing the entire world to work-from-home, we quickly created a strategy to adapt to the new normal at speed.
“We are striving to achieve a balance on a daily basis between what’s best for our company and employee safety, while still delivering a great experience to our enterprise customers. We are doing fairly well but the pandemic has made us extra agile and more cautious for the future.”
Citing workspace management as a leading priority in the enterprise, Sakaria acknowledged that the lockdown created an “eye-opener” moment for businesses across India due to heightened demand for flexibility.
“We have been playing a vital role in helping major enterprise customers reduce real-estate footprint through our workforce management solution,” Sakaria explained. “We also can’t emphasise enough the importance of automating everything because industries operating on manual processes continue to be deeply impacted. This pandemic has been a difficult lesson for all our customers, prompting the need to adopt robotic process automation [RPA] to ensure business continuity.”
In addition to end-to-end IT expertise within the enterprise space, CDP also houses unique intellectual property (IP) in the form of software solutions such as 1OfficeView, 1CView and 1AttendanceView.
“With widespread awareness of temperature monitoring and contactless technology, we also have an innovative thermal camera-based solution for thermal screening, facial recognition and attendance monitoring via a single device,” Sakaria added. “This technology represents today’s need in offices, building complexes, factories and other establishments.
“We must always stay hungry for innovation. Times are changing much faster than expected but if you are not an early adopter on the technology wave, you miss the opportunity.”
Looking back on the pandemic - and in searching for key business learnings - Vipul Datta was unwavering in his assessment. Speaking as CEO of Futuresoft Solutions, Datta cited “recoil, resolve, reimagine, reinvent and restart”.
“It’s important for organisations to understand and stick to their core values in trying times such as these,” he said. “This situation has no history for anyone to lean back on meaning it’s critical to the success of the company to invest more time, effort and money to engage with customers to help them solve business challenges.”
During such “trying times”, Datta stressed the importance of keeping communication constant with both customers and employees, in addition to prioritising continuity and business growth.
“Post-pandemic, customers are evolving around the need to improve supply chain capabilities - whether physical or virtual - as well as enhancing real-time data capturing to enable faster decision making while allowing users to conduct business from anywhere,” he added. “Hence the importance of digital authentication and the ability to track the progress of product and services delivery at every step. Other key priorities include security business IP which has become a greater challenge than ever before.”
With present across 29 cities in India - backed by more than 800 employees - Futuresoft specialises in the delivery of integrated solutions, cloud and security.
“We have built Futuresoft with the belief that if we take care of our employees and our clients, and contribute to their success, then our success will be certain,” Datta said.
“During the first 15 days of the lockdown in India, we ensured the renegotiation of contracts and changed our services scope and model of delivery with customers. We provided alternate and necessary support needed for businesses to sail through such challenging times which ensured 100 per cent availability of our employees and 100 per cent retention of our contractual revenue.”
In the opinion of Santosh Agrawal - CEO of Esconet Technologies - Covid-19 reaffirmed the long-held belief that employees remain the true assets of any business.
“Dig deeper to find their real strengths and hidden talents,” he advised. “Listen to them, take their advice because they can have great ideas. During the lockdown each one of us in the business - even the most junior employees - worked 12-14 hours to support our customers and keep them afloat. I was amazed at some of their undiscovered skills.”
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