COVID-19's impact on Business Operations

How COVID 19 has changed—and led to a digital transformation of—Operation Centers; namely: NOCs, SOCs, DOCs

Over the past decade, cloud and network-based computing, Internet of Things (IoT), the mushrooming of new sources of business intelligence and the many digital transformation initiatives underway has lead to an increase in the number of corporate operation center—Network Operation Centers, Security Operation Centers, Data Operation Centers, Social Media Operation Centers, all of them using powerful yet highly flexible tools to centrally manage information from across an enterprise and its markets, its customer base, supply chain and partner network.

Digital transformation initiatives have been top priorities for just about every organization in this new age of interconnected operations and business management. Visual applications are both ubiquitous and essential. Specifically within control rooms and operation centers, video walls, networked desktop computers, and other digital displays are used for communications, monitoring, and collaborative analysis. Large and complex datastreams—at both local and global levels—are visualized using Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) dashboards, AI projections, geospatial reports, alert systems, CCTV feeds and numerous other types of visual content. Cross-examination of the organization's network—through multiple and simultaneously displayed sources—enables engineers, IT operators, and business leaders to optimize their operations and make informed and timely decisions.

When COVID 19 struck and organizations around the world adjusted to a work from home model on a scale never seen before, it put many digital transformation initiatives to the test, drove some companies to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and revealed gaps in some organizations that had already considered themselves 'transformed'.

Operations Center During and After COVID-19

While most operations centers have long prepared emergency plans, few organizations could have predicted such long periods of work from home operations. The adoption of cloud and network-based channels—especially for communications and operational management—has helped sustain collaborative work and mission-critical operations during COVID-19 and its long stretches of self isolation. VPNs provide operators remote access to their organization's LAN, and video conferencing apps allow decision makers to collectively analyze their data. Employees not used to independent work are also compelled to self-manage their tasks and workflows.

However several months into the COVID-19 crisis, some take aways are already clear. Industry leaders agree COVID-19 has led to some permanent changes in our digital workplaces. IN order to adapt organizations need:

• Greater flexibility for teams to adapt to changes and new environments without disrupting work
• Decentralization of information and organizational interconnectedness becoming core themes across businesses worldwide
• Increased reliance on network-based technologies; with more active end-users and employees growing their organizations' networks with new devices, endpoints, and security measures

These requests of course are but a few out of many but they apply directly to operation centers. The Operation Center of the future needs to be flexible, adaptable and scalable. Organizations that invest into their operational infrastructure and workplaces need to account for future uncertainties in their workflows. Are AV solutions ready for new and unexpected changes to the workplace? Can video walls and digital display applications today flexible enough to sustain their operations as the way we work changes?

Hardware vs Software-based Control Rooms

While many organizations have successfully transitioned to support sudden changes in their team and operational workflows, organizations that still rely on local/hardware infrastructure are are less likely to adapt.

Fixed AV hardware setups such as traditional AV Matrix Switches, AV encoders and decoders etc.cannot quickly evolve or improve over time, which creates a risk during rapid changes. As many discovered while working from home during COVID local devices and content sources (such as those input through HDMI) are harder to access remotely or operate from home. As anyone who suffered a hardware failure during COVID's peak time realized proprietary hardware is expensive and sometimes impossible to get serviced or replaced during global emergencies. Technical support from IT staff and manufacturers is also harder to access remotely. Since proprietary hardware is inherently prone to security risks due to unknown bios untrusted OS etc., version control and security risks can be exacerbated even if these devices are integrated with the network.

On the other hand, in a rapidly evolving landscape there are key advantages to software based solutions such as Userful's Visual Networking Platform which is a software based solution to stream any content onto any screen anywhere globally, in real time. In a software-driven infrastructure, new features and functionality are frequently added. Userful releases updates every quarter adapting to the needs of its users. Additionally, while hardware applications are largely confined to on-site usage, software-based systems can more easily be operated from home or anywhere. Userful's control interface can be securely accessed remotely.

Additionally, while hardware-based control applications are restricted to their on-premise controllers and servers, software-based applications can be run on-premise servers or from the cloud to sustain their operations and technical support, without the need for physical intervention and risk of failover. Since software does the heavy-lifting for processing data, commercial off-the-shelf (COTs) hardware, is easier to purchase, install, customize and support and can easily be replaced if necessary. The versatility of COTs hardware also allows organizations to ensure network security using their own internal protocols. 

By opting for software based display solutions, corporate operations centers ensure maximum flexibility in terms of the displays they wish to use: video walls, smart displays, legacy displays supported by adapters, LED walls, projectors or individual screens and computers.

Userful's software-based approach to driving video walls and other displays for Corporate Operation Centers deliver a variety of noteworthy benefits: By reducing CAPEX, escaping vendor lock-in, and reducing the OPEX that comes from supporting and upgrading proprietary and specialized AV hardware, organizations can reduce their total costs of ownership. At the same time the flexibility, scaleability and adaptability of software driven platform with four releases a year gives customers confidence that they are ready for the ever-changing landscape of the modern digital workplace.


Userful's software-based approach to driving
video walls and other displays for Corporate Operation Centers deliver a variety of noteworthy benefits: By reducing CAPEX, escaping vendor lock-in, and reducing the OPEX that comes from supporting and upgrading proprietary and specialized AV hardware, organizations can reduce their total costs of ownership. At the same time the flexibility, scaleability and adaptability of software driven platform with four releases a year gives customers confidence that they are ready for the ever-changing landscape of the modern digital workplace.

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