We all know about the inertia associated with starting something new, about comfort in the known, and about resistance to change.
We have inertia in starting something, and when we finally start, we have inertia in stopping what we have started, and are unwilling do something different. Great physicists recognize this tendency of humans and nature, motivating Isaac Newton to create his First Law of Motion back in the days at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Yet change is inevitable, and the most successful leaders and businesspeople might as well be those who welcome change with open arms, as an integral part of human experience.
But why do people fear change? I am sure psychologists have fine theories, but for the rest of us, fear of consequences is usually the reason for our unwillingness to change. The fear that the change might create problems for us and make our lives less comfortable. “Why fix it when it’s not broken” is a common refrain. As a result, we wait until rapid and formidable disruptions of our lives happen before we enact change. These disruptions could come in the form of massive illness, near-death experience, or even the death of a loved one. For example, I cannot begin to tell you the changes I made in my life following the death of my mother 18 years ago. Some of the changes were things I should have been doing in the first place before my mom died. But when the shockwave of her death arrived, I had no more excuses and nowhere to hide! This is one reason why perfectionism can be very undesirable – it does not allow for nimbleness.
My generation essentially started the business of applying hardcore computer simulations to solve engineering problems about 35 or so years ago. Since the 1990s, I have been part of the development and/or management team of a few commercial software packages that solve engineering problems in the mechanical and aerospace engineering field. A significant part of our challenge a few decades ago is the unwillingness of folks to try out the new technologies that we had introduced. Engineering is too risky, and folks would rather opt for physical experiments than “vaporware.” That is, until they cannot no longer sit on the fence. This is certainly the story of cloud computing today. People dragged their feet until COVID-19 landed. Kurt Marko puts this nicely in his 30 April 2020 article in diginomica.com: “disruptive events (of COIVD-19) cut through personal and bureaucratic inertia to catalyze changes at a rate seemingly impossible during placid times. Indeed, the DXC survey documents such behavioral friction in the form of employee foot-dragging and management indecisiveness as prime impediments to digital transformation strategies.”
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive disruption in the lives of virtually every person on earth: sudden deaths by the hundreds of thousands as we’ve never seen in this generation; and airlines, oil companies, hotel chains, and the recreation enterprise seeing their businesses decimated and stocks dumped. But the pandemic has also created business opportunities in other areas, for people who are positioned to, and are adept at, cashing in.
The pandemic lockdowns have caused people to find alternatives to in-person learning, which invariably implies online learning. Well, people also work from home during the pandemic lockdowns. Of course, there are the digital native companies (such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon), for whom the shift to remote working is relatively seamless – well, provided they are set up to use cloud facilities. For the everyday business, sustaining operations in the age of the pandemic could represent nightmare that could test the survivability of the entity. The successful ones will probably be those who have been able to expeditiously adapt their operations via accelerated cloud adoption. Managers may need to upskill in crisis management, and cloud-first model may be unavoidable for some businesses. Companies simply must enable an increasingly mobile workforce. In the words of Emil Sayegh on 6 March 2020 in forbes.com, “A widespread epidemic validates the need for the maintenance of corporate functionality based on cloud technologies.”
Of course, this column in Daily Trust has covered a lot on Cloud Computing since its inception in 2011. In fact, the maiden article, which is based on cloud computing, was written at a time when Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) were at infancy. In terms of the market share of cloud infrastructure, AWS, Azure, GCP and Alibaba are the leaders, with respective percentage shares of 32.4, 17.6, 6, and 5.4.
The prospect of cloud deployment in the age of the COVID19 pandemic has been summarized in cloudcomputing-new.com on 17 April 2020: “Stores that still use traditional web hosting are likely to experience downtimes as they run out of network resources to handle the drastic increases in traffic. Cloud hosting solutions are highly scalable, so a sudden rise in traffic is unlikely to disrupt business. Additionally, cloud hosting providers are more equipped and experienced in dealing with cyber-attacks. They can protect their servers from DDoS, hacking, and other threats better than organizations that operate on-site servers. This means that cloud solutions help minimize instances of downtimes brought about by cyber-attacks.” (DDoS stands for distributed denial of service.)