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People-first? That’s the computing promise of 2020

By BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa at Citrix



2019 was a significant year for the technology sector. It brought rise to numerous technological innovations and new business models that have changed the face of global economies. 2020 promises even better technology. We’re on the edge of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), where the speed of technology and the way it impacts business is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and simply has no historical precedent.

Based on what Citrix has seen in 2019 through our customers’ and partners’ businesses, these are the developments we believe will grow in 2020.

People-centric computing

In 2020, our focus will shift towards people-centric computing. This long sought-after balance between user demand and the needs of IT will finally be met by delivering an adaptive workspace, one that learns deeply how an individual prefers to work, that is productive in nature, and is contextual by delivering the right tools, information, and applications, and drives high levels of productivity.

Using analytics to fully understand the needs of employees, and tailor the workspace, the next generation workspaces will cater for unique individual requirements. 

The people-centric computing approach will get technology out of the way, and focus on how an individual wants to work and adapt to that individual’s preference throughout the span of their employment.

Employee experience

Organisations have in the past spent a considerable amount of financial and human resources to focus on the customer experience. They built digital platforms to engage with customers and used them to retain customers, thus improving their customer Net Promoter Score – an index measuring customers’ willingness to recommend a product or service to others.

And yet, in 2020, we’re going to see a shift from the customer experience to the employee experience. From our engagement with our global customers, Citrix has learned that many of them find that their customers’ experience is better than that of their own employees.

It’s for this reason that many digitally mature organisations are already starting to place importance on enabling technologies and processes to drive employee experience.

85% of workers globally are disengaged. Employees are often detached from their workplace because of the frustrating user experience resulting from a lack in necessary tools and from the use of complex applications.  Enterprise applications need to be unified in order to ensure efficiency, which ultimately will create a great employee experience.

Our research has shown us that improved employee experience certainly boosts customer experience but also improves internal Net Promoter Score, which is extremely important for the war on talent

It’s no secret that if you can’t build an environment that supports the needs of your employees, they’re going to find that at another company. Fundamentally, ease of use and flexibility are key pillars to enabling employee experience. The trend will result in new methods of tracking behaviours that can inform new technologies and processes; ultimately improving the value to the organisation.

The future of work will put employee experience first. 

Currently as many as 11 different apps are used to do work in a day. This results in employees spending too much time – almost 10 hours a week – searching information and navigating apps that may be complex. This hinders employee experience leading to reduced employee engagement.

Organizations investing in improving the employee experience will gain competitive advantage.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bots

AI will most likely not take over the world. The chances of us being subsumed into a world of artificial general intelligence any time soon is extremely unlikely. However, think about what we see every day – our interactions with voice assistants, with recommendation engines that get smarter and smarter, helping us to buy more things we don’t really need.

In 2020, AI will continue to grow, but in the context of narrow AI, and the context of machine learning. The real question is not how many jobs will be replaced by 2020, but how many new opportunities are created, how much more innovation will we get from our staff when we can use the machines to our advantage.

If we can let the bots take the menial tasks, this allows us to free up human capital. It frees you up from mundane things that tie up many hours in your work week. It helps you as organisations to deliver better customer service, better customer engagement.

Hybrid cloud – Multicloud

In 2020, we’ll finally concede that hybrid cloud will be the predominant mode going forward. For a decade or more, we’ve argued about public versus private cloud. The African cloud market is valued at $1.7bn with the African public cloud growing 3x faster than the global average. The private cloud is still dominant though but the public cloud is picking up, according to the 2019 report ‘The Rise of the African Cloud’.   

The reality is that hybrid cloud, probably even in your own organisations, is the model today. Because what experience tells us, is that we deploy the right tools to the right cloud at the right time and for the right reasons.

Not every hybrid cloud requires low level network connectivity, or VPN connectivity between multiple points. Every time you acquire a new SaaS application, you’re adding another cloud to your environment. After all, the world is by definition, hybrid cloud.

Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS)

At Citrix, we’ve seen an increase in the adoption of XaaS technologies replacing existing on-premises applications. Yet paradoxically, we see lots of applications still being developed by in-house teams, but in a much different way.

The monolithic architectures of applications are a thing of the past, and have given way to micro-service applications. These of course require brand new development approaches and approaches to operations. The big cloud vendors are slowly creeping into the corporate data centre, bringing the promises of delivering “everything as a service” for the new world that we’re rapidly entering. 

In the local context, the XaaS model is beneficial to SMEs especially in the current economic climate. Having and maintaining hardware and software in-house, is just not economically viable for small businesses. However, through XaaS technologies, businesses are able to have access to the wide range of advanced technologies worldwide.

The gig economy

2019 saw a shift in what it means to do work and how work is done. The workforce of today is adopting an any-time any-location, any-device style of work.

Working gig to gig, this new generation of freelancers and solopreneurs will keep redefining the conventions of work in the digital economy. Work will no longer be a place people go, but merely a thing people do – and technology will be a huge enabler of this.

An emergent market, the gig economy has redefined the concept of work, and many of the people in these new work set-ups may never appear in physical offices. According to a 2019 Citrix report – The potential economic impacts of a flexible working culture – 65 % of respondents working part time said they would be inclined to work more hours if they could work remotely. The question is, how do we prepare for the shift presented by the gig economy? And how do we provide IT services to people that may never be met in person?

Gig economy companies play a big role as well – The likes of SweepSouth and Uber. With their main asset being software interface, they’ve created business empires through matching continent workers with those looking for specific services in different markets and industries, thus creating job opportunities and sustaining the gig economy. 

Evolution of the CIO

Firstly, we’ll see the evolution of the CIO role. For many years, we’ve had CIOs that operated in control of the ‘Department of No’. The new CIO will wear the hat of an innovation officer, much more than an information officer.

They will be a change agent at the very core, helping to remove those existing final barriers between IT and the business. They will focus primarily on the ‘why’ of technology, rather than getting bogged down in the ‘how’.

The end of digital transformation

Last year, digital transformation much raved about. But businesses can be in a state of digital transformation for years and never get anywhere. Three-quarters of digital transformations fail to generate returns that exceed the original investment, and of those that fail, 70% are due to a lack of user adoption and behavioural change. It’s time to separate the reality from the hype.

We’ve all heard how the promise of digital transformation will change user experience across the globe. Yet, when we engage with our customers it’s very rare that we hear a story about how technology will enable their new business models in the next three to five years.

Many enterprises that are stuck with legacy technologies, and are piling on more technology for the sake of it without thinking about how that’s affecting emerging business models, are doomed to fail. Nearly a quarter (24%) of organisations are still defining their digital transformation strategy while only 4% have completed their transformation.

These are just some of the developments we can expect in 2020. If anything, 2019 showed us that it’s a great time to be in the technology industry. 


TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.


Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup



It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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