By Mike MoDrak,
Platform Agnostic Big Data Consultant & BI Solution Strategist, Clarity Insights.

COVID-19 has devastated communities, overwhelmed healthcare systems, and damaged the global economy. As we’ve watched it unfold at its worst, we’ve also seen people — as individuals and organized collectives — at their best. We thank the healthcare workers, postal service men and women, support staff and others who have remained steadfast in this pandemic, against all odds. In what feels like an entirely separate realm, we have watched technology show up to do what it does best: remain hidden in the background, keeping things running. But the two worlds are more interconnected than what appears on the surface.


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The best-laid plans for technology infrastructure are not only designed with risk mitigation in mind, but also to support data analysis to better understand market changes, fast. And right now, that has translated into agile business — regardless of industry, yet touching essential work right now in crucial ways. From healthcare organizations sharing patient data more readily, to assessing the latest symptoms and driving vaccine research, to school systems transitioning to online learning, and remote workers remaining up-and-running to access customer data from their living rooms, technology is underpinning the “new normal.” Only, it’s a bit more visible than it once was: because when it isn’t working, people notice.

Consider the conference call that freezes attempt after attempt. The live stream that gets interrupted and content lost. The VPN that won’t connect. The website portal that is down for maintenance. All these things are now mainstream, part of the #stayhome zeitgeist. The things that aren’t working create — at best — collective groans that teams can commiserate over from afar; at worst, they create business delays that translate into poor communication, supply chain gaps, and decreased sales. At a time when everything is unknown, technology uncertainty can be quite costly. 

This is creating another dichotomy in the world of business winners and losers from the COVID-19 fallout: cloud investors breaking away from the pack. 

Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman laid it out plainly in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily

"I've been getting emails from CTOs all over the place saying that Covid-19 is accelerating [their] interest. It's become a catalyst for driving investments in data platforms. The reason is, they're trying to figure out what the hell is happening to them…We've become a beneficiary of really bad things happening in the world because they (companies) need our platform to help understand it."

In the world of digital transformation, not all platforms are created equal. Which is why Snowflake’s cloud-first origins make it a desirable partner in times where the need to find and access data is as unprecedented as the pandemic conditions driving the demand to begin with. In the article, Slootman continued: 

"Cloud, in general, lends itself a [...] of a lot better to the environment because it's all network-based. So this is going to accelerate cloud because on-premise systems, obviously, are a complete drag right now when you're trying to get people out of your buildings."

Those companies that strategically invested in cloud computing prior to the events surrounding COVID-19 are at a strategic advantage: According to IDC Analyst Stephen Minton and referenced in the article cited above, “Organizations that are further along the digital transformation and cloud migration scales are likely to be best-positioned in terms of integrating these technologies into effective and agile response plans." Prospects for those outside of this prepared subset might not have the same luxury,  especially as certain sectors and organizations delay investments amidst budgetary concerns and spending ability in this current economic state. 

Those with prior investments are making business decisions that will help them stay afloat during uncertain times, widening the gap between their advantage and the disadvantages of those who hedged their bets on technology before. Honing in on technology as a strategic advantage, now, in whatever ways possible — whether doubling down on optimized use of existing platforms or making mission-critical migrations to the cloud — will do much to support you in the world we now live in, because many operational shifts and consumer preferences are here to stay. 


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