2020 was already shaping up to be the year of the cloud collaboration platform – a new wave of software designed to connect people with information and displace the traditional methods of email and voice. Microsoft and Slack PR teams hustled to brag about daily active user counts. Zoom Video went public as one of the better performing IPOs in 2019. Google Hangouts and Cisco Webex rounded out this market with alternatives from trusted, longstanding technology companies.
While all slightly different – some focus on video while others narrow in on collaboration - adoption of these platforms is strong. Many businesses already migrated to Office 365 or G Suite and therefore have access to Microsoft Teams and Hangouts. Slack continues to build out integrations with cloud storage providers and convert its large free user base over to a paid model as it navigates the rocky waters of the public market.
Then COVID-19 hit.
As governments and frontline medical resources rush to curb the pandemic, many organizations have moved to a completely remote model, which poured gas on this red-hot software segment.
In a single week, Microsoft Teams saw a 37% increase in daily active users to 44 million. Other providers quickly threw open the gates to their platforms. Slack announced free upgrades for paid users, Google made premium Hangout Meet features free for all G Suite customers, and Zoom exploded overnight in the education sector.
As many of us settle into a work- or learn-from-home model that could span several weeks or months, this growth is poised to continue. Let’s look at some of the benefits of these systems, which industries have been fast movers over the past few weeks, and where we go from here.
Cloud Collaboration Benefits
On the bright side, these platforms perfectly address the needs of today’s remote employee or student, even if they weren’t made exactly for this scenario. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield outlined what his company has gone through during the opening days of the COVID-19 outbreak, stating that while tools like Slack or Teams were focused more on driving collaboration throughout organizations rather than facilitating work-from-home, elements of the solution make it the perfect fit.
Central access to documents, ability to collaborate, and the best-possible alternative to face-to-face interaction – strong video and chat functionality - bring people together regardless of location.
So Who's Moving Now?
While cloud office and SaaS adoption varies across industries, over the past three weeks, we’ve seen select verticals accelerate their transition as social distancing policies went into practice.
City/State Government: at nearly every level, the public sector has been a slower adopter of the cloud than industries such as media, entertainment, or healthcare. With the arrival of COVID-19, many branches of local government are now quickly adjusting to a work-from-home model to keep vital public services operational. These employees are less likely to have their own hardware at home – creating a huge demand for laptops and other remote work technology.
With the arrival of this virus, timelines for these migration projects have moved up. BitTitan is actively working with several local governments across the US to quickly migrate mailboxes and file storage systems to the cloud, freeing up service providers to address other remote work needs.
Education: with primary education across the country largely paused, we’ll focus here on the secondary level. To some degree, college students were better prepared than most. They are more likely to have their own laptops, are used to working and collaborating in the cloud, and may already have experience with online classes.
The key here is enabling widespread remote learning, which is why video-first applications that can gracefully handle large meeting sizes such as Zoom have exploded over the past weeks, forcing professors and students to adapt to this new learning environment (while generating some terrific internet content).
For institutions using Office 365, Microsoft Teams is a great solution, assuming everyone is integrated into a single tenant. Over the past year, BitTitan has helped partners deliver several large-scale tenant consolidation projects to enable collaboration via applications like Teams.
How Can We Help?
While much of this digital transformation was already underway, COVID-19 pushed these industries and others to adapt immediately. BitTitan has some advice on tactics and considerations you can make for projects now that will help you support urgent projects. It’s also a great litmus test for organizations that were exploring remote options to cut overhead office costs or educational institutions looking to expand remote learning options.
We know MSPs around the globe are slammed. Not just with the migration projects we see, but with enabling a remote workforce through hardware, VPNs, phone systems, and the endless stream of tier-3 support tickets.
If your customers or business needs help with a transition to the cloud, we’re here to help you get there quickly and set up for success.
Drop us a line and let's connect, we are here to help. Stay safe and healthy everyone.