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North-east IT experts explains how pandemic has fast-tracked digital transformation

By Calum MacLeod

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Clark IT founder Austen Clark.
Clark IT founder Austen Clark.

2020 was a transformational year in terms of businesses and employees embracing digital technology to work through the pandemic.

This year, there will be no looking back – the future is already here.

“We now live truly in a digital age,” explained Clark Integrated Technologies managing director Austen Clark.

“What the pandemic’s done is fast-track digital transformation by almost a decade. Everybody is now working remotely, everybody’s used to using some form of remote access for work and to communicate with colleagues.

“The pandemic has shown that companies can work in a different way and people are becoming more used to and enjoying the ability to work in a different way.”

So what’s the next step?

“In 2021 we’re going to be wondering how we engage more and how we use technology better. There’s going to be more interaction with using solutions such as Microsoft Office, we’re going to see more collaboration connecting Cloud services together – we’re already seeing that happening with Teams or Slack or various other collaborative tools on the market.

Clark IT founder Austen Clark.
Clark IT founder Austen Clark.

“Collaboration is key to keeping people together, motivating great wellbeing, communicating with colleagues and keeping people on message and engaged.

“Doing business is going to change as well. The barriers to having premises have been taken away. We are working disparately, remotely and we’ve actually levelled the playing field for businesses to work.

“It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of the Highlands or the middle of Inverness, you still have the same access to the marketplace that everyone else has.”

But there are obstacles to overcome on the digital journey.

“We’ve got to see an improvement [in connectivity]. And we may not just be relying on the traditional telecoms providers, we may have to look at some of the new services coming out.

“We’re seeing noticeable increases in cyber hacks and phishing attacks. People are more under threat now than they have ever been. The threat has exponentially increased. It has never been more important to protect your colleagues, your business, your reputation – that’s all businesses, all sectors.

“More attacks are appearing in smaller organisations because they have less controls in place than larger organisations which have budgeted for or have had to put in place protection.”

But as risk has increased, so has support from organisations such as Clark IT, the NCSC and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre which can assist businesses navigate the digital landscape.

“Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination,” Mr Clark added.

“It’s not something you do in one step, businesses are constantly adapting.

“I don’t think this adaption would have happened at the pace it has if it hadn’t been forced upon us. And there is so much more.

“Even with a vaccine, the way people work has already changed and commerce is changing. Life is moving forward with a bright digital opportunity.”

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