BERLIN – And just like that- it’s 2021 and we are in the position to prepare for a fundamentally different economy and society that was created in the last nine months of 2020. The pandemic definitely created a whirlwind across the country including a shockwave through IT departments everywhere.
To gain perspective on what we can expect for 2021, we should take a look at a recap of results from 2020. As projected, one gigantic takeaway was: Technology played a key role for organizations as they sought to operate amid wildly unfamiliar conditions. The majority of IT budgets were spent towards the beginning of 2020 by purchasing hardware, like laptops, to migrate their employees to a remote work environment.
For most, 2021 is projected to be a more stable state with much of the emergency spending to equip a work-from-home workforce pretty much over. But just because the emergency hardware spending is over doesn’t mean that technology spending will be cut. In fact, there are many industries that project IT budget increases over the next year including power and utilities, government, healthcare, telecom, and business/professional services.
What we can expect moving forward into this new year is a need to acquire the tools to sustain the future state of IT with a large portion of the workforce remaining remote when things “go back to normal.” The biggest hurdle continues to be managing the high degree of uncertainty, many IT execs said they believe that they are unable to accurately forecast for long-term planning decisions, stating that it could be 3 months to a year before forecasting accurately will be possible. With that being said, there are no arguments that the projected top 3 key tech priorities are expected to be: security & privacy, customer experience & engagement, and infrastructure & cloud technology.
Security & Privacy
The pandemic has led to an even more dramatic rise in cybersecurity attacks on organizations. Phishing and ransomware attacks are aimed at stressed and distracted employees who may be vulnerable to news about the pandemic or lured by a spoofed offer from a “trusted” brand. For instance, the updated edition of the TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities 2020 survey found that the most widespread IT projects all related to security and data protection, with user security training, governance, risk and compliance tools, and multifactor authentication the top current projects.
Customer Experience & Engagement
In the rush toward digital transformation, keep the user experience in mind at all times. Performing massive migrations of complex line-of-business applications to the cloud may make sense on paper. Yet, if employees or customers experience new or different frictions, productivity or revenue may suffer, slowing or offsetting the benefits you seek. Take time to carefully plan out large projects.
Infrastructure & Cloud Technology
It has been estimated that almost one billion people worked from home at some point in 2020. This has led to demand for IT products and services to support remote workers. This has also led to Windows 10 migration also in the top IT projects for 2021, but IT professionals regard unified communications as the top priority. The massive migration of employees to work from home has accelerated the digital transformation efforts of most companies by moving their infrastructure and business applications to the cloud. What may have been an 18 to 30-month action plan has become a 6 to 12-month imperative.
If businesses are to thrive in the new normal, they need to be agile, resilient to unforeseen events and adapt to change rapidly.The pandemic has shown the importance of IT to keep business operational. CIOs, CTOs and senior IT decision makers will be called on to provide the IT to manage business processes through the next global disruption event. What we all have learned this past year should serve us all well as we plan our 2021 IT budgets. Long term objectives have been reprioritized, meaning some have been accelerated while others remain on hold or only given life-support funding.