Explain IT: Season 3, Episode 5 - Looking Beyond Coronavirus

Playing now - Looking Beyond Coronavirus


In this episode we look at the impact that Covid-19 has had on industry and how tech has played a part in keeping workforces operating. We also discuss how long-lasting these adaptations might be, and what the future might look like, post-Covid. Joining host Zac Abbott is Dean Gardner, Softcat’s chief technologist for cloud technology, and Adam Harding, Softcat’s chief technologist for modern workspace.

From L to R: Adam Harding, Zac Abbott, Dean Gardner
Zac Abbott
Zac Abbott Senior Account Manager Softcat
Adam Harding
Adam Harding Chief Technologist for End User Computing Softcat
Dean Gardner
Dean Gardner Chief Technologist for Cloud Softcat
Key takeaways
  • All industries have been impacted, and will continue to be. We’re seeing how technology underpins a lot of services and the importance of having effective and robust systems.
  • The new ways of working that workforces have adopted will almost certainly become part of organisations’ day to day tools – video calling, remotely collaborating and a higher level of communication will be the norm once we return to the workplace.
  • It is imperative that organisations are aware of retaining their unique culture, focussing on retaining customers and staff whilst a ‘new normal’ is created through lockdown and beyond.
  • We think that post-Covid, more emphasis will be placed on people and their situations. This pandemic has shone a light on the other priorities in people’s lives, and workplaces may well become more empathetic by facilitating a range of working practices.
  • Covid-19 has given organisations an opportunity to take a step back and look at processes; where they’re spending money, how they’re using tech and their priorities, with a view to making them more efficient for the future.
  • This virus has forced many organisations to have a digital review, and put in place infrastructure that will enable their staff to work from home and support their existing systems, now and into the future

“I think the main positive to come out of this awful situation is probably more of a human one. I think it's actually empathy. We understand organisations need to be productive, they have to be efficient, we have to manage risks, but more important, we've got to put our people front and centre of everything, all the time.”

Zac Abbott: Hello and welcome to Explain IT brought to you by Softcat; the show for IT professionals by IT professionals that aims to simplify the complex and often overcomplicated bits of Enterprise IT without compromising on the detail. Welcome back to another episode of Explain IT, I'm your host Zac Abbott and over the next 30ish minutes I’ll be talking to our panel of experts about the unavoidable topic of coronavirus as we explore what the lasting implications of the pandemic might be. We’ll be discussing what effects and adaptations we've seen that are likely to remain even after the pandemic is finished, including the work-from-home revolution and a rapid global digital transformation. Joining me today to discuss this is Dean Gardner, Softcat’s chief technologist for cloud technology and Adam Harding Softcat’s chief technologist for Modern Workspace. Dean, Adam, welcome to the show, thank you for joining us today in this new remote podcast isolation location recording studio. How are you both getting on with life in lockdown? 

Dean Gardner: Hey Zac, good, it's been different but I quite like it, it’s quite good, but not forever.

Zac Abbott: No no.

Adam Harding: And likewise Zac, I think it's been a very interesting couple of weeks. I think it's been pretty rewarding. 

Zac Abbott: Speaking of lockdown and things like that, we always have a nice big question at the start of this, super important. Big question this week - what’s the first thing you're going to do once lockdown has been lifted?

Dean Gardner: Definitely get the kids out and to see family. We were supposed to have a family barbecue thing in June and that's been put back, so I haven't seen them for a while. Obviously we've been doing Zoom calls or collaboration calls and doing all that sort of stuff and getting family, actually seeing family I haven't seen in a while coming on and saying hello and seeing how they are, but you know, we’ll want to make the effort to get to see each other, I think we realise that these kind of moments, they open up that you don't make the effort as much as you should, so it’s that make more of an effort to see each other, so looking forward to catching up with everybody. 

Adam Harding: I think I'm probably, I think you'll agree, notoriously antisocial as a starting point, so I haven't found this too bad myself but, to Dean’s point, I think it's highlighted what's important really, and first thing I'm going to do, likewise, BBQ and beers with family and friends. Maybe two or three of them. Why limit it to one?! 

Zac Abbott: Yeah no I think I'm very much the same, thanks very much guys for entertaining that, now let's get on with it I guess. So something I'm sure a lot of employers are being asked at the moment is to do with the future of working from home and how this has affected all of that. Has our understanding of the workspace changed forever?

Adam Harding: So I don't know if our understanding of the workplace has changed forever, but probably the focus of how we start to design working practices and working styles and maybe the focus we put on people, how can we be sympathetic to their situation, how can we be empathetic to their situation? When we’re out of this catastrophe there are still people that are going to have family challenges, that are going to need to look after their kids when they're not well, that have family members that need a bit more support than we might previously have been aware of, so I think there’s certainly the human side of, even considering how you look after a workforce will change. So do I expect everybody to be remote and never come back to work? Absolutely not. I think this has been the grandest scale production pilot that we could ever have imagined for remote work. So what it probably has done is proved those roles that work and those roles that don't and those personality types at an individual layer that get on really well with it, that are self-motivated, that are driven, that can work without micromanagement and those that don't. And I think it's probably highlighted and given organisations and the leadership within organisations a real good feel of where they could use this, where it would be better for their people and for the business. My gut reaction, and we don't want to get into crystal balls particularly on this, is that when the wave comes crashing back and we are released from our little prisons and we are allowed to come back to the office, I think there will probably be lots of people, to mine and Dean’s point before, they just want to get together, they just want to socialise, they just want to see each other and then I think give it a couple of weeks or months and things will find that new normal where you probably will see the appetite for full-time remote working take a notch up, but you’ll equally find people that absolutely hated it. But it needs to find its new normal, its new level and there certainly won't be, it's not going to be a polar shift, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we’ve all eaten quite a lot of it.

Zac Abbott: So do you think then, potentially the situation that's going on now, there's things we can learn from that, or things it can teach us about working differently? 

Dean Gardner: It's almost an experiment, a real-time experiment isn't it, globally? And with any of that there's got to be lessons that need to be learnt, from mobilising, essentially anybody who can be, because there's an awful lot of companies out there that don't have the ability to do this kind of stuff, they're not going to log into these kinds of calls and be able to collaborate and still write documents and still provision technology to facilitate that business, there’s going to be a lot of organisations out there that are manufacturing and different businesses that just, essentially this doesn't help them, there's people that still have to do deliveries and we see this on the news regularly, globally that there’s people that still have to go to hospitals and do their job, there’s people who still have to go into care homes and do their job and these things benefit a certain sector of the workforce, there’s no doubt, and I think that is what will come out of this, there’s lessons to learn where there’s certain jobs that actually can work this way, but there's still a lot of jobs out there that absolutely have no way of working this way, so I think it's a mixed bag for me.

Adam Harding: Yeah I would agree. I think that when people throw around the term digital transformation prior to this, some of those projects and programmes have really been dressed up versions of a glorified kit refresh and an upgrade and it's very much not taken on the original ethos of digitising processes that were manual or that were disjointed, or that you had to be in a certain place at a certain time to get done. So I think that we will probably see a big jump forward in, “come on guys, how can we actually, whatever the job we're doing, how can we liberate that from the confines of ‘I need to be in this room with this person to do it, I need to sign this physical piece of paper, I need to do x y z,’” and actually see people go back to focusing on, “how can I digitise processes so that things, so that there's a reduced opportunity for the business to stop running, for there to be business interruption,” and I think when you look at  those people that aren't just straight office workers, because to be honest it's pretty easy to push out G Suite and Office 365 and one of the many collaboration tools and set up a project management thing and put some time management software around it, it's fairly easy for the office type workers to work from home. It's relatively easy for things people who work in contact centres maybe these days to work from home because a lot of those technologies have been pushed into the cloud and are readily accessible from whichever location you happen to be sitting in, on whichever device you happen to have. But to Dean’s point, for those frontline workers, whether they be people on construction sites, or people on shop floors or people doing stock take or nurses and doctors, anybody who's out there, that probably makes a good 50, 60% of the workforce, I think there will be a renewed focus on, well how can we do more for them? How can we develop apps and things to do for more for them?

Dean Gardner: What I do find interesting with all this situation, though, is we've got Adam’s seeing this regularly, previously I've spoken to customers who have invested in these tools, certainly the collaboration tools and it's this whole thing and we've developed services to help enable people on how to use them. It's almost, “I've got Microsoft Teams,” or “I’ve got Zoom” and how can I actually really leverage the benefits of using these tools in certain working sectors? And it's incredible how many of those company say, “I can't, I don't want to disrupt that person over there to go through that training,” and suddenly, what I think has happened over the last few months, which is a positive by the way, is that suddenly these tools have enabled and forced, maybe, those people that would not necessarily use those tools because it might have impacted their day-to-day job on how they do things normally, now it's saying, “you've got no choice,” and actually we've got whole range of people now and organisations who are actually leveraging the tools they probably invested in for a while and the majority of their workforce are now having to use, so going back, actually I think there's going to be a whole learning shift and a new way. People who actually know what Zoom is now and doing these kind of quizzes during the evening and doing communications with hundreds of people they may not even know, using tools and logging into these platforms. They wouldn’t have done that six months ago, so imagine taking that into, essentially what we can do in the office space, it should be the norm, it has to be the norm, it's going to become the norm in, actually, society now, because everybody's doing it and everyone is now being able to do it and is aware of how to do it. So I think that's to me is a huge positive, that a lot of the organisations we have been supporting for the last few years, these tools now become absolutely relevant are now going to be ingrained in everybody's normal life as well as their working life. And to the point where, I thought was interesting the other day, we're starting to actually see dedicated advertisements on TV for Microsoft Teams specifically. To actually say, Microsoft Teams - this is what it does, we’re seeing this now, we’re seeing advertisements on particular tools and I said this a few years ago and I stand by it, Microsoft Teams, for me is probably the best Microsoft application since they launched Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and I think it's being proven that it is that and now we're seeing other tools that are essentially competing as well and doing the same thing, but it's normal, it's going to become normal the way we do things and this, out of anything, through this crisis is going to accelerate that. 

Adam Harding: Yeah and I would agree, I think you can see similarities to other big breaks, almost, through the 2008 financial crisis and the rest, that old patterns of work have already been pushed to their limit and I think that we were already, even internally within Softcat, already trying to encourage people to work in new ways, to embrace new opportunities - Microsoft Teams and Slack and things like that are a great example of where, from us, a very simple thing, when we do projects we wanted to have one cloud based document that we could all edit, write, co-create, review together quickly and effectively rather than passing documents round via email so you end up with 40 different copies of the same thing by the time people had offered their opinion and it was a bit more difficult because people were happy with the way they used to do it, but you end up with these structural breaks, I think, where the old patterns get pushed beyond the point of it not working anymore and I've seen an appetite created by the users to want to embrace this stuff now, it's not just had IT saying, “Hey, we’ve got a new gadget or gizmo, would you like to give it a go?”, the users genuinely see the benefit because they've been forced... It’s like no one buys a decent insurance policy till they’ve had something stolen. It's the way it is.

Zac Abbott: Yeah do you think maybe then with the more sustained focus on these kinds of tools and platforms, do you think beyond coronavirus that will increase? I mean that sounds like what you're saying to me, where do you think that's going to go, do you have any ideas of what that might include?

Adam Harding: So I think that it is an element of development. So we have already seen, as we've discussed, people adopting new approaches with technology, whether it is actually starting to embrace those collaboration platforms as Dean's alluded to, we’re probably available a good little while ago but people just had no appetite, no reason to worry about dialling up from communicating via email to actually using video calls and things. We’ll actually see that continue, so they'll start to become the fabric of how we do things, but during this, the rush, and being pragmatic in all fairness, to get our organisations mobilised so that people could work from home, we've had to give a little bit on user experience and on security, so whether it's IT control, and equally cost control. So what we’ll probably see is a development to try and readdress the balance with that. You'll see things like a proper governance coming in for Microsoft Teams and Slack and Webex teams and those kinds of platforms and I think it's more about, right the basis is there, let's dial it up, let's improve it, let's make this a beautiful user experience again, let's make sure that we protect the organisations and the individuals who we using them.

Zac Abbott: Yeah. Slightly different direction, with everything being carried out remotely one thing that's really important to Softcat in general is, as you guys know, is Softcat’s culture. How do you think other organisations can still retain their company culture and differentiate themselves if everything is now just moving to that ‘Teams’ style business?

Dean Gardner: It's going to be a balance right? So we've got no choice today, this is where it is and so enabling these platforms and tools to facilitate that way means that we all can carry on doing an element of our job. But I think it's clear that, and it's been made very clear at Softcat that, our culture certainly is a people-centric, it’s customer service focused and you can only do so much over these tools in that regard, you still need to be able to sit in front of people and talk to people in a face-to-face way, you get a lot more from that. I think what Adam was saying earlier was you can collaborate with documents or we do bid responses or you can write something for a customer or even if you are deploying something in a cloud platform or architecting something for a customer, you can do that in these ways, but when it comes to actually ideas and being creative and actually just generally working on a human level the culture of Softcat is that and actually being in front and on a desk with your team, your peers that's going to continue, that's not going away, you're just giving other options, I think, to support a way of working that encompasses... it's like Softcat historically, it wasn't something we didn't do, it was something that was encouraged to a point, but ultimately you get more out of working with people than you do, for me, trying to bring 20 people together on all these calls and get the same outcomes. So there’s a balance, and I think Softcat absolutely has recognised that and also I think it's worth taking the time to acknowledge what our internal IT teams have done ourselves to mobilise, essentially 1500 people in a very short period of time and using technology as a driver in a very short period of time to do that. So I think we've seen it first-hand where you've got really good skilled professionals that do that and allow us all to work in this way, but going forwards, I’m pretty sure that most of our workforce is going to be going back to the offices and we’re not going to reduce that real estate, it’s going to carry on and so I think it's a valid point, but I don’t think it’s one that is going to continue as it is right now.

Adam Harding: From a cultural perspective, organisations, when you speak to the leadership of big or small organisations, you are consistently told that it is their culture that differentiates them from their peers, from their competitors, that makes them the company that you should deal with a customer and the company that you should work for as an employee. And I think that there will be some winners and losers during this whole thing because you're really going to have to wear your culture on your sleeve, there's going to be some heroes and villains with how you look after your customers, how you look after your employees. So I think that at a broader sense the pandemic is going to test the cultures. Now at a ongoing point, culture is really about the people, it is the thing that makes you stand apart, it’s certainly the thing that makes Softcat stand out on both those fronts and you have to treat it very delicately. I think you can disrupt technology, but the balance has to be right to not disrupt the culture. I think Dean’s absolutely right that there will be a blend. I personally think I'll be a little bit more remote working or there’ll be a little bit more flexibility, but I don't think you have to, it doesn't have to be a massive upheaval and I have had conversations actually with a fair few significant-sized organisations over the last week that are considering closing some of the offices. So Softcat aren’t because it's our thing, but from certainly well-known brands are and it's not actually because they're expecting their business to suffer, it's because actually they think that maybe 20, 25% of the workforce really will benefit from working at home, so they can close one of the four or whatever it might be. So I think it'll be at an individual company level as to where that will come. But again, what I would say is you will end up because, you'll end up with a mix of remote workforce vs on premise workforce, the biggest thing that will change is the way you manage that mixed type of environment because you cannot manage remote workers as if they were on premise, they don't bump into each other at the water cooler or the coffee machine, they don't get involved in those little updates that actually are really valuable and they don't necessarily find it as easy to feel part of the organisation, to feel like their career is being developed as much as everybody else, to feel that their voice is heard, so actually a lot of the changes to culture will probably happen at that management side as how do you make more distributed people feel like they are part of something bigger, make them feel that they are part of the team? 

Zac Abbott: Yeah definitely. Ok I guess we’ve talked quite a bit about the future of home working from a user perspective and how organisations can deal with that, but I guess that ties quite nicely into the next bit of, we have seen those organisations having to rapidly adapt to situations as part of this and as part of that there's been an accelerated step towards digital transformation. Do you think we're likely to see these transformations lasting or is a lot of it actually going to be temporary and as you said before Dean, we end up going back into the office or do you think that things might last beyond that?

Dean Gardner: Yeah I think digital transformation has been around for a few years now in terms of the buzzword that it is, but there's a reality behind that and we’re seeing businesses suffer because they haven't invested in digital technologies and what I mean by that, it’s not just the collaboration piece and home working, that's part of it, it's actually being able to serve and support customers in a different way. We've got examples of businesses, and we’re going to have more of these in my opinion over the next month or two, and this is a global issue, but certainly in the UK we’ll see this, there’s certain retail outlets that haven't had a website presence, as an example, and they've literally gone from x amount of millions to zero in a month and there's others who were born in the cloud or born in online retail or e-tail and those organisations are flourishing, as evidence that over the last few days where their businesses are booming and there’s one company that’s selling joggers, like tops, luxury trackie bottoms and tops and it's incredible their business has boomed this month, the last 2 months and so I think we're seeing a shift where those companies that are digital already, they have that presence, they're doing well, it's the logistics of how they get goods from A to B, but that's still happening, it's those companies that had big massive real estate and retail outlets that essentially have had to shut up shop and there’s other organisations, car manufacturers, the knock-on effect from them not being able to produce cars and actually nobody on the road, we’re seeing it with the oil industry where people aren’t filling up their cars, globally, I mean these are global problems, that are having huge impacts that will affect us all, but the fundamental shift is that a lot of those organisations, where they can, they absolutely will drive through more digital transformation and we're seeing this already with the organisations we’re talking to and that's because they need to have a better way of doing things than the traditional ways of doing things and right now there's a lot of businesses looking at that and question if what they do is right. Some companies, it is what it is. This situation like, as I say, oil and car manufacturers, you can't solve that with digital transformation or moving something online, but fundamentally even those organisations are having to look at how they do things to see if they can do it better later on.

Adam Harding: Yeah I’d agree, I think that the basic premise is that necessity breeds innovation and all of a sudden I think that those organisations were probably tinkering with the idea of doing something slightly different with their business models, but now there is a real urgency behind that because those businesses that have been resilient were those that had made the foundation steps. Not everybody has a whizzbang automated process for absolutely everything, but most of them have got the foundation, the cornerstones of at least modern cloud, modern workspace, modern security architecture and basic IT intelligence correct. They have survived this with far less disruption to their businesses, because they can work without having to physically be somewhere. I mean Dean, one of the things I keep on getting asked is about simple things - data centres - you've got most of our organisations still have a significant on-premise estate, how are people addressing that?

Dean Gardner: Interestingly I saw a video with the Equinix CEO yesterday, and interestingly their share price is going through the roof, so they are obviously one of the largest global data centre providers and it's interesting to see their share price flourishing, or going through the roof as such as it has been, but that's because of things like chocolate technology still need to be in a data centre and a fair few of them, public cloud, hyperscalers are in Equinix data centres and so we've seen the boom in these technologies, Zoom are a prime example where a lot of their platform is hosted on a cloud platform which sits in an Equinix data centre, so interestingly things like Equinix, their data centres are still fully operational and if anything, they're expanding. But you've got to look at it and say, “If I am a customer that’s hosted in one of those locations, can I get into that data centre to do something?”, and that's where there's definitely been a challenge, because ultimately, those organisations will have to put and have put rules in place if you will, that stop people just coming in as they probably would have done before. So I think there's a shift absolutely for data centre providers to do more today because ultimately there are a lot of organisations out there that may be looking at AWS or Azure and GCP and other clouds but they still need to reside somewhere, they don't just magically appear somewhere that doesn't exist, they actually are still sitting in DCs, and as I say, some of those DCs still are open, they’re still expanding, they’re still business as usual, it just means that if you're a business and you look after your own IT, that you need to access one of those third parties, I think it's more of a challenge there, but those organisations and certainly the ones we're talking to, they are then looking at cloud because ultimately you can provision to those platforms because there's better scalability and those portals are available to do that. You don't have to physically go and install a rack of kit, but someone is installing racks of kit still - that’s still happening. And we've seen some issues recently where logistics are causing a challenge, getting access to some of that hardware naturally is coming an issue, or has been issue - not a major one, but I think we’re now starting to see some of that. But yeah, data centres are still there, they're running, we still require them. But I do think there's rules for some that may be rules for others, in terms of how they can access those things.

Adam Harding: Some of the conversations I've had are actually, it’s not just the scalability, it's more flexibility because a lot of organisations do see this as a spike in demand for certain services that will disappear. Now for those people that are already cloud-native it's fairly simple to scale up and then when it's time, you don't need to consume those resources anymore, we can scale back down, we can avoid wastage. I naturally work in and spend a lot of my time in the digital workspace arena, that's been absolutely fine with your Office 365s and your G Suites and your Zooms and all that type of stuff, we've had some issues with connectivity in the very early days because the networks were not set up by anybody to deal with that level of saturation, but that's, I think, that's been pretty well handled over the fullness of time. Where I have seen people really struggle is where simple things - they've had on premise VDI estates that were always built in a modular node based approach where we just add another server and it adds another 50, 60, 70 virtual desktops and you just keep on adding those and that’s how you scale. But to your point, one - getting people into their own physical data centres has been very difficult, two - the supply chain for components of those, I'm not going to name the brands, but components of that server, switching and storage infrastructure has come under a lot of pressure because everybody is needed it at the same time.

Dean Gardner: And public cloud’s not immune from that either. So cloud’s coming out of this in a positive way in my opinion, but we have seen some challenges, security challenges - Zoom as an example have had that, but also public cloud, they are not immune from still having to cater for the growth. Microsoft Teams growth has to run somewhere, it runs on Azure, and that Azure capacity, globally, has been challenged. So you're seeing a great shift, but that shift comes with a price and the rules still apply, you still need the infrastructure, you still need the facilities, you still need to be able to provide something that it runs on. And so not only are businesses struggling with that, there's all organisations that have had to meet this demand and spike are coping with it differently, some better than others.

Adam Harding: I think you're absolutely right and it's all well publicised, things like Azure struggling with capacity because of unprecedented and unplanned for growth. And to be honest if they can't do it, how on earth are we going to do it? But it's also about that scaling back down. At a point where cash flow is really really important, I mean it is under normal situation, but right now cashflow is incredibly important for the vast majority of organisations, to go out and put big capital spends on kit that you need during a spike, that you won't necessarily be able to scale back down and get rid of if this returns to a new normal, which is certainly less than the peak, it's going to be really hard for people. 

Zac Abbott: Cool ok thanks Adam. Other than what we've covered already guys, which is quite a lot, obviously, are there any other long lasting impacts that we will see within the tech industry or is there anything that you want to make sure we talk about today?

Dean Gardner: So at the beginning of the year we do, the OCTO team do, the predictions podcast, so if you want to obviously refer back to that please do. Interestingly we didn't predict this crisis, so we’re obviously not doing our job properly, but we do predict a few things and it's worth noting, we wanted to revisit some of that during this, and I think we said simplification, customers looking at that in its entirety was something we were already seeing a trend of organisations doing. And actually certainly with customers I’ve spoken to over the last month or so, there's an appetite actually to do it, there's a bit of a lull in certain organisations where they’ve got time now to look at what they're investing in, how they are spending their money, how they're using their technology and actually I think there is this forced review if you will, and so it's something that people were going to do anyway but I think that organisations are doing it now probably quicker than they may have been doing, or wanted to do it, and I think that's just going to be even more prevalent over the next six to 12 months, specially as people are having to look at what they're spending and potentially looking the pennies that are going out of their business and actually making sure they are getting the efficiencies on spend and the technology landscape is probably easier to manage and is sustainable, moving forward, so it's challenging companies to look at that and I think we're seeing that right now.

Adam Harding: I would completely agree. I think what this has done is reinforced the themes that were probably already there in the background that had a bit of a tailwind and just accelerated them, specifically from that workplace perspective we were talking about the importance of employee freedom and flexibility with regards to working location, patterns, devices, apps, all that type of stuff. Now the drivers for those are probably changed a little bit, they were predominantly focused on attracting and retaining the best talent, which is still important, but now they've got an added driver of business resilience, I think, which is something we all hoped we'd never really have to call on, but the truth is the truth. And the other side of that is harmonising it with IT control, from a cost perspective, from a technology perspective, and it's about making sure that you can harmonise those two opposing forces and that's something we’ve really seen people have to review because a lot of organisations were on the path to having technologies in place that enabled, that were very people-centric, that didn't rely on device controls particularly, that were very much about conditional access, contextual access, data being classified properly and data policies being applied properly and all of those things give users the freedom to work with customers, partners and their peers without historic restrictions and I just think that whole thing will be driven forward and the other specific point that we called out was that collaboration and collaboration technologies and making it easy for people to work with people whether they are partners, customers, peers or anything else, was already important now it's even more important.

Zac Abbott: And do you think by nature that then the tech industry will be more resilient to this crisis than other industries?

Dean Gardner: I think we're seeing that the tech industry is not immune, but they are absolutely I think, becoming more important and I think we always knew that technology was important just generally, in the future of things we've seen over the last 10, 20 years. But I think more so than ever before, we’re seeing it impact all industry, whether you’re pubsec, whether you’re legal whether you’re retail or construction, doesn't matter what you're in, there is such an element of technology that underpins a lot of the services and even to the point where we’re still getting a lot of delivery drivers are still delivering a lot of stuff to a lot of people because people are ordering a lot of stuff online and ultimately the technology that even underpins that is standard now and if anything, those things are accelerating, so I think that technology is coming out positively from all of this and is an enabler to keep us closer together when we are, in most cases, apart.

Zac Abbott: Fine and I guess last question, really, what do you think the positives that can be taken from this are?

Dean Gardner: I think it's difficult to quantify that until, for me, we’re in this phase two at the moment where we're still learning but there's going to be a lot of analysis following up I think and there's going to be some companies that just won't survive, I think that's what we're going to see, there’s going to be industries out there that are going to be hit pretty hard, aviation is a prime example of that, where how do governments help them survive? Technology isn’t going to solve their problem, what we do as a business isn’t going to solve their problem. We can defer payments but ultimately some industries just need to get running to actually... it's the cycle of business and certainly I think we're going to see some casualties I think. So I don't know what that’s going to look like, but certainly I think there’s going to be other companies that are going to come out of this exceptionally in a positive way, exceptionally positive and it's just about how those industries evolve post Covid, I think and a lot of those will be technology companies.

Adam Harding: Yeah and I think the main positive to come out of this positive to this awful situation is probably more of a human one. I think it's actually empathy. I think it's actually just focusing on what's important. Yeah we understand people, organisations need to be productive, they have to be efficient, we have to manage risks, but more importantly we've got to put our people front and centre of everything, all the time and be empathetic to their individual situations and be sympathetic with it.

Dean Gardner: And I just want to reinforce that, because it's such an important part. We are all being told to stay at home, certainly in the UK, and what we're seeing now, and I think businesses and certainly Softcat recognises this, we do have children, we do have home lives, we do have commitments that work enables us to have, we’re lucky enough to have jobs because there’s a lot of people out there at the moment who don't or just getting furloughed. I think we're lucky enough to have jobs and Softcat’s an incredible support to all of us. But the key thing is there's this acknowledgement that it won't be just Softcat, it’ll be others, organisations can say, “We support our staff with these things like home care for the kids or schooling or whatever it is,” certainly from personal experience but I think organisations are going to have to really acknowledge the fact that it's a real thing, it's not a virtual thing. People do have these things in their lives and organisations and businesses I think going back to what Adam was saying, are going to be more acutely aware and even empathetic to those situations and more supportive, I’d hope and I think this just kind of highlights the fact that you can have a balance and I think hopefully that's taken into the next few years and businesses build more support for people who have things happening in their personal life and I think Softcat really does that well I hope other organisations, post Covdi, really recognise that more because essentially they're seeing it more.

Zac Abbott: Perfect, thanks guys. Well that is it for another episode of Explain IT. Dean, Adam it's been really great talking with you, thank you very much for your time joining over this new way of doing this. If anything has piqued your interest or you've got any questions off the back of this episode please do email us - [email protected] - and don't forget to click subscribe so you can stay up to date with Explain IT from wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thank you very much for listening to Explain IT from Softcat.