How COVID-19 helped raising awareness on the importance of cloud-based services and digital transformation in general
The world we knew no longer exists. In a very short time, our habits have become different – from the way we work, learn, do business, communicate, socialize to how we travel, consume art, shop.
Croatia is undergoing a strong digital transformation with the emphasis on the persuasive introduction of cloud-based services. Unlike digitization – which simplifies our daily lives and makes us more efficient because it replaces analog tools with digital ones – digital transformation substantially redefines processes. Nowadays we can do what we couldn’t before, things have become available to us that weren’t before. In the Covid-19 pandemic, the very use of communication channels is a reflection of the digital transformation because we manage as a society to stay connected almost as if we were physically together, and this was not possible before. The magic-keys we were given are all in the cloud: cloud-based communication tools, cloud-based collaboration tools, cloud-based services of different kinds.
This might change when the crisis passes, but in the business world, change will be permanent.
According to the available data, as many as 70% of Croats currently work from home. It’s interesting to compare this with the numbers published by Eurostat, according to which in 2018 only 1% of Croats used the possibility of remote work. The availability of cloud-based services was instrumental in this change. For example, in mid-March, Microsoft recorded a 27 percent increase in users on the Teams platform globally in just one week, bringing the number from 32 million active MS Teams users to 44 million. Cisco also saw a huge increase in its platforms – quadrupled use of Webex in March, with 324 million users and 73 million meetings via that platform. Such trends are also present in Croatia, so for example the major Croatian Telco provider recorded more than 20% increase in data traffic in the mobile and more than 40 percent in the fixed network. Conferences have shifted online to cloud-based environment, and it is no longer necessary to set aside a few thousand dollars for travel and registration fees. One can set aside time and follow everything from the comfort of your home. This will drastically reduce prices and make acquiring new knowledge and investing in yourself much more affordable.
Secretary of the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society, Mr. Bernard Gršić, confirmed that the disruption brought by the coronavirus to the global economy and the domestic environment have contributed to the accelerated digitalization, with a very strong increase in trend of usage of cloud-based services. On that occasion, he also pointed out that the scale of digitalization of public and private services, which was achieved in this short period, would have otherwise been completed in a time period of 5-10 years. Both the general public and entrepreneurs realized in a very short time the benefits of the cloud, focusing, wherever possible, on working through digital technologies. We are seeing quite a number of new opportunities created on these foundations daily, and this is only the beginning.