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The Covid-19 pandemic has given the IT industry the perfect opportunity to thrive in the ‘new normal’

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Oct 11, 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic left many industries devastated. But for the Information Technology (IT) world, it has provided the perfect opportunity to grow and to thrive in our new normal.

For the last few months, award-winning IT company Global Computing and Telecoms (GCT) has been hard at work developing innovations to help South Africans navigate their challenging lives during the pandemic.

With most people forced to work at home due to social distancing, and with the government departments such as licensing departments and Home Affairs closed to the public for lengthy periods, the IT company has come up with groundbreaking solutions to allow people to continue their work from home and allow the departments to continue functioning as normal.

Elli Lechtman, a programme director, said the company has developed innovative solutions which they feel will be a stepping stone towards the way South Africa embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We have developed various successful examples of robotic process automation bots in the human resources and finance space,” said Lechtman.

“We have automated leave and expense management applications. We have developed visitor register applications for various departments to log and trace those who have visited their offices.

“We also recently successfully deployed a SharePoint Intranet from start to finish within a week at one of our clients – purely as a result of the new working dynamics that we are all embracing.

“From a cybersecurity perspective, we have been able to remotely implement and deploy solutions that safeguard our clients’ infrastructure due to the increase in cybercrime over this period.”

The company has found solutions for its clients now that employees are unable to physically come to their offices.

“Many of our customers required a physical presence within which to work. “As a Microsoft partner, we have enabled our clients to work remotely using technologies that are cloudbased.

“Microsoft’s cloud is called Azure – and South Africa has two data centres which clients can access (without having their own infrastructure).

“By providing access to these technologies, our clients have been able to substitute working from the office with working from home and still being able to fully function.”

They have also enabled government departments to work remotely: “Many of these departments had already procured the requisite software licences to work remotely but weren’t using them effectively.

“Some departments did not invest in these licences, and we aided them by doing so. “We also customised or developed some of these technologies to meet their specific requirements.

“This ensures that departments’ staff can operate efficiently and effectively from home.” The first technology the company had implemented was Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s flagship virtual meeting software.

“This entails having to install the application remotely without having physical access to clients’ computers, and then training staff on how to use the software.

“It brings together everything a team needs: chat and threaded conversations, meetings and video conferencing, calling, content collaboration – therefore, everything a workforce needs to operate – without actually having to be in the office.”

Lechtman said his company had also implemented a virtual, or cloudbased version of Microsoft SharePoint, a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. Pre-pandemic, most clients would have had an on-site version of this software, in other words.

Now they could have this same software on Microsoft’s cloud (Azure). He said for a large part of the year, GCT was forced to hold meetings with clients virtually, with tools like Microsoft Teams.

“This creates a new working dynamic. “You’re finding yourself trying to keep the household quiet while on a very important client meeting.

“These were difficult challenges at first but it has now almost become a way of life and one truly wonders whether this is the future of how we collaborate to achieve a common purpose.” Lechtman believes the IT industry has played a significant role during the pandemic.

“IT plays a significant role in supporting the private and public sectors in ensuring that technology and access to technology is readily available to employees.

“Many in IT are on the front line of the economy, ensuring that the country still functions. “It is at the forefront of innovation and it is important that the industry continues to evolve and promote access to new technologies to contribute towards local economic growth.”

The Saturday Star

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