The world is dealing with new challenges, including a daunting, rapid, and massive shift in the way we work. For enterprises of all sizes, the upheaval ushered in by the current environment is an opportunity to refocus on a desired future, laying the groundwork for a strong and flexible digital foundation for rebuilding business in a landscape with new demands.

Pure Storage® is in a great position to help our customers and partners navigate to a digital future, and the international field CTO organization plays a key role. This team of experts comes from a diverse background and many previously held CTO roles within companies. While they spend much of their time supporting Pure’s field sales and engineering teams, their primary focus is to interact with our customers to help them map their digital-transformation journeys.

That puts them in the sweet spot between technology innovation and customer implementation. Two of our international field CTOs share their thoughts on what we can expect in the coming months.

The need for flexibility has never been greater to support organizations as they operate in changing circumstances.Patrick Smith, Pure Storage

Patrick Smith, Field CTO, EMEA

We all know that the world has changed beyond recognition and will continue to take some unexpected turns while we deal with the personal and professional impact of this pandemic. Like many others, I have had coronavirus, and my recovery has given me insight into and awareness of its impact and how we need to handle the new “normal.” Not everything will go back to the way it was and we need to adapt at a pace we’ve never experienced before. I can see a few trends coming to the fore as part of these changes:

  • New ways to instill culture: As organizations continue to have a larger remote workforce, they’ll need innovative ways to instill and maintain their culture virtually. The human need for workplace interaction will also become a significant focus. The watercooler conversation has never been missed so much, perhaps it was always underappreciated. Organizations operate through direct human interaction. We need to make sure that the remote workplace is balanced with the face-to-face interactions that are key to our mental well-being and ultimately a healthy and successful organization.
  • Security and handling of cyberthreats: It’s staggering to see that there have been even more malicious attackers trying to extract money through ransomware attacks than before COVID-19. And many of them have targeted essential services. The impact has never been greater and publicly announced attacks are the tip of a very large iceberg. In the future, organizations will consider a ransomware mitigation strategy essential for protecting their business and reputation. Testing this plan may become as routine as proving disaster-recovery capabilities.
  • Repatriating workloads: When lockdowns started, every organization globally was trying to manage an increased workload. It caused a large uptick in cloud adoption and use. I’d go as far as saying many organizations over-rotated towards cloud and they will rebalance their usage as cost pressures lead to repatriating some workloads on-premises. The need for flexibility has never been greater to support organizations as they operate in changing circumstances. 
  • Rise of the empowered consumer: The younger generation has a new lens on the businesses they engage with both as employees and consumers. Companies need to take heed and implement a role for managing a company’s reputation: a chief trust officer. The role would consider the ethical stance a company takes, including how it treats employees, who it will and won’t do business with, how it operates, and how much transparency it provides. This role will act as the company’s “conscience” with a view to doing the right thing.

As technologists, we have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of ensuring that our organizations continue to function as the world changes around us.Matthew Oostveen, Pure Storage

Time Magazine called the coronavirus outbreak the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. While not underestimating the human suffering caused by the virus, from a technology point of view, you can see what they’re getting at.

As technologists, we have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of ensuring that our organizations continue to function as the world changes around us. I see this technological response unfolding in two phases.

Matthew Oostveen, Field CTO, APJ

In Phase 1, organizations are scrambling to put in place solutions that enable their employees to work remotely. Investments in laptops, networking equipment, security solutions, storage, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and cloud will continue to increase through 2020. As we edge closer to the end of 2020, I expect the majority of organizations to move into the next phase. 

Phase 2 is characterized by technology investments targeted at efficiency. Leadership within organizations will begin to realize that metrics such as productivity have been negatively impacted, especially due to so many people being disconnected from traditional systems and processes. Given the realization that we could be living with this virus for at least another 12 months, enterprises are looking for ways to improve productivity in their remote workforce, as well as automate previously physical and manual processes.

Two things that I expect will happen in Phase 2: repatriation of workloads from public clouds and the acceleration of AI operations to improve workforce productivity.

  • Repatriation from public clouds: The uptake of public cloud services will continue to accelerate as organizations galvanize their existing IT service delivery to keep up with the shift in demand from staff working remotely. However, in the latter part of 2020, organizations will also become hyper-aware of the hidden costs of public cloud services and will actively look to mitigate those costs, including by repatriating workloads in the public cloud back on-premises most likely in the form of hybrid clouds.
  • Rise of the robots: Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and streaming analytics projects will increase in the second half of 2020 as organizations look to achieve two key objectives: increasing productivity and expanding revenue. For companies new to this space, expect projects to be small targeted campaigns aimed at quick wins such as improved customer insights and infrastructure management in the form of AI operations. 

Additionally, organizations will adopt these technologies with more gusto in the second half of 2020 to push through slowing digital-transformation projects that have stalled due to a variety of factors including people mobility and the temporary refocusing of technology resources and budgets to respond to immediate COVID-19-related requirements.