The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world into a hard reboot. Nations, governments and businesses; communities, families and individuals are all grappling with the new normal. Economies have been decimated, livelihoods threatened and our way of life profoundly altered. Organisations that were behind the curve from a technological perspective before the pandemic have been given a violent shove towards digital transformation. We’ve seen just what a vital role technology plays in all of our lives. The demise of the workplace as we know it has been unforgiving. How and where work is undertaken is up for review. How we define work itself is also changing.
Nations around the world will start to unlock their physical borders and the world will tentatively reopen for business. What if at the same time they could unlock new capabilities and new potential? The proliferation of IoT devices and the advancements on technology, particularly in the last decade or so, has produced masses of contextual data. As a result, it’s never been so important to have a secure, accessible and resilient network.
Pre-pandemic the focus for many IT leaders was innovation, development and enabling business growth; right now it’s all about keeping the lights on. There’s been lots of focus on Business Continuity Planning and resiliency and the capabilities of many corporate networks have been severely tested. Success is now measured on an organisation’s ability to “pivot” and for those that were still relying on old technology, this has proved yet another challenge in this extraordinary year. This pandemic has forced many SMBs into conducting an honest appraisal of how they do business and has demanded a critical assessment of priorities.
With security infrastructure thrust to the top of the agenda, businesses are now thinking about things very differently entering into 2021.
We’ve been talking about digital transformation for a long time and Cisco has long been at the forefront of innovation in terms of product and services but the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest drivers for IT change in recent history. Meraki as the leader in cloud-managed networking offers a powerful, peace-of-mind solution, making a digital business as simple to run as possible without compromising security or performance. Here at 7 reasons why it’s such a compelling choice and the right technology for the post-pandemic era:
- Reducing Operating Costs
Budgets have taken a hit in almost every sector. CapEx has been decimated and the purse strings are so tight they’re all in knots. If ever there was a time to take a serious look at ways to dramatically reduce OpEx then it’s now. Switches are the foundation of any network. Meraki’s zero-touch cloud provisioning means that there is no pre-staging required. Pre-pandemic, many organisations were on the technology replacement treadmill. Network replacement cycles were in full swing but suddenly it seems less important to upgrade that firewall when hardly anybody is now accessing it. If there were any business leaders who didn’t appreciate how critical the network was to their organisations before then they certainly do now.
Was your network infrastructure ready for a pandemic? How is it holding up? The rapid adoption of a hybrid business model; the explosion in demand for VPN licenses for remote workers and increased traffic from online consumers has all put a huge strain on the network. Reducing pressure and easing congestion without compromising security or performance is a priority. The corporate landscape has been profoundly altered and rapid scalability is an essential component of keeping people connected and productive, particularly with an ever-increasing remote workforce. The simplicity of the Meraki solution provides that scalability. One of the many benefits of a managed cloud network is that on-demand expansion.
Having a more dispersed workforce has presented a variety of security challenges for many SMBs. Many networks are now increasingly susceptible to breaches as the attack surface has rapidly expanded and vulnerabilities exposed. Amidst the pandemic pandemonium, network security could get lost in the noise. Having the right security solutions for distributed network resources is imperative to protect employees and customers alike as well as company information, data and systems. Meraki provides an affordable and comprehensive range of cloud-managed security appliances that can be remotely deployed in minutes with zero-touch cloud provisioning. Businesses need solutions that take the heat out of those red hot challenges. Meraki offers fully integrated security features through the Enterprise and Advanced bundles and simplified licensing options for every business, regardless of the size of your network. Reducing the burden for your IT staff is crucial, not just at this time but any time.
- Mobile Device Management
Working from home used to be the exception rather than the rule for many but now most businesses are operating with a truly mobile and disparate workforce. The pandemic has created a much greater appreciation for the value of Mobile Device Management (MDM) and mobility strategies in general. Managing and securing an ever-increasing number of devices is critical to not just staying operational and productive. The rapid adoption of BYOD for homeworkers means that SMBs need a robust foundation on which to deploy a complete mobile workspace. Managed Meraki allows the unified management of all devices from a centralised dashboard and all managed devices connect securely to the Meraki cloud. It offers an “out-of-the-box” MDM solution designed with mobile working and modern devices in mind so you can let your employees work their own way without compromising security and productivity.
In many ways, the pandemic has forced us to look at business and technology from a more human perspective placing the focus almost completely on the user for the first time. On-going productivity is essential for survival and we are now asking some important questions centred on the workforce and user enablement. How do we continue to provide the same user experience remotely? Are our employees empowered to do their job? Many SMBs were already looking at new and improved ways to turn on apps and services in the cloud so that employees remain able to access the resources and systems they need. Greater flexibility around network access and the provision of a productive and collaborative workspace has now become paramount. The digital transformation needs of the average enterprise has altered dramatically. It’s no longer a case of buying bigger, badder equipment and deploying it in the data centre without anybody really knowing what the core features are. Solutions such as Meraki Insight are designed to optimise the user experience whilst providing the convenience of cloud-hosted applications.
Does anyone think it’s actually possible to plan for the future anymore? Philosopher George Santayana famously said “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Learning lessons from previous historical game-changing events such at Y2K or past economic downturns like the 2008 crash is imperative for overcoming future obstacles. We were all waiting for the world to end back then and it didn’t. We’re all waiting for it to end now but it won’t. It’s therefore essential that SMBs choose a solution that can deal with change and that can flex, grow and adapt as your business does going forward, no matter what is thrown at it. Give your business the best chance of survival by embracing digital transformation. Meraki enterprise-grade solutions can drastically simplify networking for any organisation. Future-proof networking will pay off for you and your customers. There’s a new way of thinking amongst small business owners which is “we’ve survived this far and overcome challenges we never thought we’d have to face so we’re prepared to try anything now.” Managed Meraki will support and enhance the new normal and beyond.
- Simplicity and Peace-of-Mind
What else can be said about Cisco Meraki? It’s simple to install, simple to use and simple to manage. The peace-of-mind of having a brand like Cisco and the ease and simplicity of having your entire network under a single pane of glass means that adopting Managed Meraki is not just a technology upgrade but potentially a complete game-changer. A comprehensive set of solutions including wireless, switching and security can be comprehensively managed with only an internet connection and a browser. It couldn’t be any simpler to manage the network infrastructure than through an intuitive web-based dashboard interface. Businesses that are adaptive, creative and resilient will survive these turbulent economic times and will find a bit of calm amid the chaos. Cisco Meraki makes everything work. It offers predictable performance during a time that is anything but and offers one less thing to keep you awake at night.
Adapting to new behaviours and a way of existing has been the theme of these past few months both socially and economically. The knock-on effects of this pandemic will undoubtedly impact future technology decisions. Technology has been at the heart of how businesses have adapted to this pandemic and the shortcomings of legacy infrastructure have been brutally exposed. It’s clear what a digital-first strategy can help to achieve. Many have been running their businesses in ways they never would have envisaged. Projects that would take 9 months have been achieved in 9 days and entire sectors such as retail, education, healthcare to name a few have been revolutionised. You don’t have to look very far to find examples of where Cisco Meraki has been at the heart of this revolution. Amid the many challenges this pandemic has presented there has been a real culture-shift towards digitisation which is set to continue.
SMBs want and need their network infrastructure providers to step up to the plate. Whether it’s wi-fi, security or collaboration, Managed Meraki can help you do it all in a cloud-first world. It’s easy to stick to what you’ve always done and what you know best. That may have served many well in the past but reluctance to change could mean the demise of many established organisations. Managed service providers and OEMs are working harder than ever to help their customers find new ways to leverage technology in a post-pandemic world.
Many SMBs have been paralysed and have to learn how to walk again but that paralysis is temporary. Whilst we may be grappling with the economic effects for a long while after, the road to recovery is dependent on who you have by your side for every stage of the process – survival, adjustment, transformation and growth. No matter which phase your business is at now, the experience and intelligence of the Meraki portfolio provides powerful control with simple tools that will help you connect, protect, manage and scale your business. Whatever the new normal looks like for you and your business, Meraki is the perfect partner for a post-pandemic revival.