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No slowing for collab-tech as Kiwis embrace hybrid working

14 Sep 2020

Data security, video conferencing and cloud collaboration have become the top tech focus for New Zealand companies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research by Poly and Digital Research and Advisory Platform, Ecosystm.

See also: It's time to sculpt the future of hybrid work, says Poly report

To support remote working, over half of NZ organisations (53%) implemented VPN infrastructure with 46% rolling out collaboration software, and 41% making changes to data protection and compliance procedures. 

Across the Tasman, the numbers were slightly smaller, with 49% of Australian organisations implementing VPN infrastructure and 43% rolling out collaboration software, while 42% of them made changes to data protection and compliance procedures. 

In New Zealand, managing larger, disparate fleets of devices has, in turn, led to increased helpdesk function (29%), with 10% companies actually hiring more IT staff. In Australia, these figures were 26% and 16%, respectively.

Due to COVID-19, 44% of firms in New Zealand were forced to refocus their digital transformation initiatives, with 36% having to start or accelerate initiatives. 17% had to put them on hold.

"One of the main areas that businesses struggled with in the pandemic was the scale or capacity of existing IT solutions: this was a top challenge for companies in New Zealand. Not having the relevant technology solutions, IT skills and support from technology partners were also significant issues. Going forward, nearly half of organisations (46%) expect increased use of technologies for employee experience, and over half (56%) anticipate increased use of collaborative platforms and tools," said Andy Hurt, Managing Director, ANZ, Poly.

“Now, businesses have an opportunity to challenge current thinking and shape a new future of work. Beyond the pandemic, we believe the next normal will be all about hybrid working – flexible working across multiple locations, with immersive, productive workspaces that accommodate the workstyle of every employee.”

Going forward, the biggest retained change for NZ businesses will be the increased use of digital technologies for customer experience (64%), followed by increased use of collaboration platforms and tools (56% - the highest result in the region). 

Process automation, employee experience and using digital technologies for product development and delivery are other enhancements that look set to stay.

When it comes to IT budget spend, the migration to cloud is more critical than ever, with other new trends such as desktop-as-a-service also making inroads. 

Data security, Cloud CRM and Cloud HR are other areas of increased investment.

With hybrid working here to stay, 69% of NZ companies will continue to invest heavily in conferencing devices and headsets until 2021, the highest in the region.

"The face-to-face dynamic of video has proven to be engaging with employees working from home, employees on field, external suppliers, and customers. While physical interactions are still important, the pandemic proved how effective remote communication and collaboration can be.

"For hybrid working to be successful, remote workers need to be supplied with the right technology and given appropriate support. This means deploying professional-grade conferencing devices, security solutions, collaboration platforms and HR policies that ensure those working remotely don’t end up "second-tier". With virtual meetings replacing face-to-face - something that many organisations predict - audio and video quality become paramount," said Mr Hurt.