It goes without saying that the events of 2020 have irrevocably changed the face of the digital landscape forever. The unexpected arrival of COVID-19 has challenged businesses to think differently, not only about their IT, but how they fundamentally operate and communicate on a day-to-day basis. The fact is, we’re approaching an entire year since the first nationwide lockdown, a duration no one could possibly have anticipated. It’s only natural, therefore, that IT teams have needed to get creative in order to achieve the digital transformation their organisations seek.
As a result, this year has seen exponential growth in several key areas of IT that only look set to continue as we move into 2021. That in mind, we believe there are six prominent technology trends that will continue to shape IT throughout the next 12 months.
- Smarter security
One of the largest impacts 2020 has had on businesses worldwide is the unavoidable move to remote working. While some workforces will return to the office when government restrictions are lifted, many would prefer to stay remote. According to a report produced by University academics, 88% of employees who worked from home during lockdown would like to continue doing so in some capacity.
This shift to remote working hasn’t been without its complications, however. As many businesses had to act quickly to equip employees to work from home, the implications for security and continuity were too often overlooked. For remote working to truly become a long-term possibility in 2021 and beyond, organisations will need to become smarter about all aspects of security, from their endpoints to the identity and access privileges of their people. Employing such measures as AI-enhanced protections that harness machine learning and enable intelligent automations is fast becoming essential.
- Cloud is king
The increase in home working has also cemented cloud as a vital infrastructure component. The need for greater agility and remote access to business-critical apps and data has meant many organisations have accelerated their move to the cloud. In fact, worldwide spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 according to Gartner. The challenges presented by COVID have also shone an important light on the many benefits made possible by hybrid and multi-cloud, with over 75% of midsize and large organisations predicted to have adopted a multi-cloud and/or hybrid IT strategy by 2021. And with over 500 million digital apps and services set to be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches by 2023, there has never been a more relevant time to ensure you’re making the most of what cloud has to offer.
- Next-generation communication
Maintaining the same degree of collaboration and communication achievable in the office across dispersed teams has proven difficult for many this year. The reliance on video conferencing tools has skyrocketed in an attempt to alleviate the disconnect between employees, customers, and partners, with Microsoft Teams usage growing 894% and Zoom usage 677% between February and July 2020 alone. It’s undeniable that dependence on these platforms will persist as remote working cements itself as “the norm”, putting pressure on providers to improve user experience, integration with critical applications, and security features. Gartner actually anticipates that only 25% of enterprise meetings will be in-person by 2024; a huge drop from 60% pre-pandemic.
- The age of as a Service
The pandemic has really paved the way for as a Service to come into its own. Prompting many organisations to re-evaluate their priorities when it comes to IT, the onset of the virus has meant operational budgets have become much tighter and less forgiving. For that reason, the financial flexibility offered by consumption-based models is now more appealing than ever. Such innovations as HPE’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, GreenLake, are gaining popularity as more businesses consider cloud migration, and the spend on Software as a Service (SaaS) is forecast to grow to $117.7 billion in 2021, a 16% increase on 2020.
- Open-source is opening up
Although software providers have historically kept their cards very close to their chests, the rise of open-source platforms such as containerisation management system, Kubernetes, has gradually encouraged many to open their creations up to citizen developers. This has even empowered comparative novices to build apps, workflows, and automations, freeing up engineers and IT teams to focus on accelerating business value.
- The importance of sustainability
Underlining all of these trends is a greater drive for sustainable IT. As well as impacting both our professional and personal lives, COVID-19 has highlighted an opportunity for businesses to reconsider their environmental footprint. With travel to offices minimised, communication between teams almost entirely digital, and cloud adoption through the proverbial roof, business owners are starting to seriously evaluate the role of sustainability in their post-pandemic recovery strategies.
It’s highly unlikely IT will ever return to what it was before the pandemic. That said, COVID-19 has helped to accelerate the adoption of these key technology trends beyond anyone’s expectations, and could still open up a world of untapped possibilities in the near future. As this year draws to a close, we’re looking forward to finding out what else 2021 has in store for your IT.
If you would like to know more about any of the technology trends outlined in this article and how they could benefit your business’ IT, please get in touch.