Predicting the Unpredictable - 2021, a year of transition

Usually, towards the start of the year, I review the IT landscape and look at how TBT Marketing can better support our clients as they adapt and thrive in the current environment. Stating the obvious, last year turned out to be a ‘rather different’ year than it looked in January 2020 when I wrote my 2020 IT trends blog. We have since experienced the biggest and most sudden change in the global environment in living memory.

However, looking back at the blog, it was closer to the mark than it might have been and it corroborates the statement that the pandemic has mainly accelerated trends that were already in play. I would say that, in general, IT infrastructure has coped admirably well given the huge disruption we have all faced.

To put it another way, to have had to face these challenges without modern IT, does not bear thinking about. It has enabled remote working, video connections for isolated loved ones, e-commerce, apps to help us through the pandemic, modelling COVID spread and designing vaccines amongst many other things.

So what of 2021?

Leaving aside the old adage “never make predictions, especially about the future(!)” I think it is fair to say that how this year plays out will vary considerably between different regions and even countries within regions more than ever before. Vaccination strategies, infrastructure, capability and resources will be key influences both this year and next.

Remote Working

In 2020, having employees able to work remotely, went from a nice to have to a necessity, virtually overnight. All of which was enabled by IT, whether via basic VPN, customised VDI or cloud solutions.

And whilst it is commendable that these solutions have been implemented so swiftly, numerous surveys suggest that remote working is here to stay – 43% of employees would prefer to work fully remotely whilst 51% prefer a mix of office and remote. I have spoken to several people in the medical profession who did zero remote work previously and they all commented that they were surprised by how effective and efficient it can be. Medical interactions can never be 100% remote but certainly it is applicable to more areas than was previously thought. So now remote working has come of age it is the time to formalise and re-architect any hastily put together solutions so they will stand the test of time.

Security

Alas, cyber-security is becoming even more of a challenge than it was already, not least because of the previously mentioned remote working. This has provided hackers with many more targets that are in a disparate domestic environment rather than within a corporate facility with its security and firewalls etc.

Because of the increased attack surface(s), there has been an increase in cyber attacks since lockdown as ‘bad actors’ seek to exploit security weaknesses that were not available previously.

Security needs to be designed into modern day solutions not bolted on as an add-on whether implemented in hardware, software or cloud service.

Increasing Digitalisation

Another aspect of the recent environment has been the accelerated take up of digital transformation. This is where a company integrates digital technology in different areas of its business to deliver improved value to its customers. As people have stayed at home and observed social distancing measures whilst out, companies have sought to respond by deploying enhanced digital solutions.

Examples include contact tracing, online medical appointments, vaccine booking systems as well as increased use of click and collect, internet home deliveries, coffee pick up etc. In its “Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021” Gartner refers to anywhere operations and encourages companies to adopt a “digital first, remote first;” strategy going forward.

Cloud Adoption

Finally, in keeping with the above points, the adoption of cloud computing has also continued to grow apace. The cloud question is not 'if', but 'when/how/private/public/or hybrid'. In addition to the usual benefits associated with the cloud, such as pay per use, elastic scalability, the flexibility of configurations etc, the cloud offers flexibility in the location of IT infrastructure.

Many companies are now re-assessing their real estate portfolio and are looking to rationalise their property footprint to accommodate a level of remote working. Those who use a co-location arrangement, a cloud service provider or a public cloud hyperscaler don’t have to worry about relocating their datacentre(s). Many companies pursue a hybrid cloud strategy that involves some on-premises equipment and edge computing, whilst the rest is off-premise, in which case this has to be factored in as well.

And on the subject of Data Centres, please take a moment to download TBT's latest research where we collected the responses from over 250 senior IT decision makers (ITDMs), gaining valuable insight into the factors influencing data centre demand and adoption across midsized business. You can access the report from here.

Here at TBT, our Future Focused approach to marketing ensures we best placed to help our clients navigate this changing landscape, ensuring their projects and campaigns deliver maximum impact. Get in touch today and see how we can strengthen your future with us.

...I wonder what I'll be predicting and writing in hindsight next year?! 😊

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