Henrik Gütle, General Manager, Microsoft Azure at Microsoft Canada
By Henrik Gütle

The impacts of COVID-19 have forced many organizations to re-examine how they’re using technology. They are relying on technology to meet the changing demands of the market while considering what they need to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world. This situation has made businesses of all sizes, and across all industries acutely aware of the need to be resilient, adaptive and flexible – and it has become clear that organizations who invested in the right technology, including collaboration tools and cloud solutions, prior to the pandemic have seen their investment pay off.

According to an IDC study conducted in early March 2020, nearly 90 percent of Canadian organizations said they have or plan to have a digital transformation road map within the next 12 to 24 months. And then the pandemic hit and many businesses were forced to pivot overnight; we witnessed two years worth of digital transformation in a matter of months. With this shift, organizations have been forced to reprioritize their digital transformation plans, budgets and investments, including their spend on upskilling their workforce to keep pace with the growing demand.

Whether this crisis will continue to accelerate digital transformation or stall existing projects is yet to be seen. According to IDC’s Worldwide COVID-19 IT Spending Impact Survey, Wave 2 (April 2020), 85 percent of medium and large organizations in Canada are moving forward with digital transformation projects; however, some plan to adjust spending and/or prioritize projects that will help the business over the course of the crisis.

These projected rates of digital transformation mean it has become imperative for organizations to adopt cloud services, like Microsoft Azure—an ever-expanding cloud solution that can build, manage and deploy applications on massive global networks – to sustain business operations and ultimately serve both employees and customers in an ever-changing environment.

Leveraging the Cloud for Digital Transformation Initiatives
Transitioning to the cloud is a fundamental step in any organization’s digital transformation and while cost efficiencies were traditionally the major driver for adoption, there has been a proliferation in organizations seeking agility, operational efficiencies, scalability and access to innovation that now contributes to a wider “cloud-first” approach.

A recent study by IDC found that Canadian IT decision makers considered cloud services to be the most strategic of technologies, ahead of business analytics, enterprise mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT).

While adopting cloud fast-tracks digital transformation initiatives, organizations are taking cloud adoption a step further by running multi-cloud environments—a hybrid strategy whereby workloads are run in a combination of on-premises and cloud or different cloud environments, driven by the need to sustain control and meet governance and compliance requirements. As per IDC Cloud Pulse Q12020, 76 percent of North American organizations plan to run multi-cloud environments over the next two years and these multi-cloud environments are “hybrid”.

Transitioning Securely to the Cloud: An EQ Bank Success Story
Prompted by its existing contract for a hosted environment coming to close, EQ Bank recognized the need for an operational shift to the cloud to achieve scale, flexibility, resiliency and security.

The move to Microsoft Azure was undertaken with support from the board and senior leadership team prioritizing security first and foremost by ensuring their cloud environment was secure, running tests on production environment and making sure they had robust disaster recovery in place.

Daniel Broten, VP of Technology for EQ Bank
“Given that we are in a regulated industry, we had to do our due diligence to address security at every stage of the migration process,” says Daniel Broten, VP of Technology for EQ Bank.

In addition to added security, moving to the cloud has given EQ Bank access to innovative technologies and cloud-native capabilities such as Azure Kubernetes-as-a-service and Azure Key Vault as well as data capabilities with Azure Synapse to leverage real-time insights for strategic decision making.

EQ Bank’s experience highlights the need for organizations to forge partnerships that remove barriers to adoption, understand how adopting cloud will improve operations and lastly, ensure they have the right architecture, design and governance in place to transform with cloud.

The Next Step in Transforming
It’s clear, through transformations like EQ Bank’s, that leveraging cloud services is a fundamental step in any digital transformation plan, creating limitless benefits for organizations to excel and innovate in a post-pandemic world.

To learn more about how leading organizations are leveraging cloud as the next step in their digital roadmap, read IDC’s Technology Spotlight Report here.