Softcat report reveals technology’s supporting role during pandemic and beyond 

The new 2020 Business Tech Priorities Report from Softcat reveals which technology solutions and services are mission critical today, helping organisations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and which are being prioritised for recovery and future prosperity.

The findings are based on the views of over 1,500 organisations in the UK and Ireland, across 21 industries.

  Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that their biggest technology challenge of the pandemic has been the switch to remote working – a mobilisation of the workforce never seen before. 20 out of 21 industries agreed.

Enhancing the digital workspace to boost productivity, engagement and happiness has also been a major challenge during 2020 and one that will continue into 2021. So too has been strengthening cyber security in the face of complicated and widened security boundaries and leveraging the cloud as part of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.

Looking forward, what technologies are organisations prioritising for the year ahead and in the “new normal”?

For the fourth year running, Cyber Security is ranked as organisations’ top technology priority. 86 percent of industries, and organisations of all sizes, say their focus is keeping users, data and infrastructure secure. This is up from 83 percent in 2019.

The rapid transformation to a distributed work model at the start of 2020 meant many organisations had to give ground on security to deliver workstyle flexibility at speed. Cyber criminals used this disruption to their advantage, with cyber attacks against UK businesses up by a third in the first quarter of 2020. This increased activity is set to continue as organisations face further disruption from lockdown 2.0.

It’s clear from the report’s findings that organisations are now looking to standardise and consolidate their security technology, helping to rebalance productive employee freedoms with cyber risk management.

The second priority area for investment is End user computing (EUC). Bringing the full digital workspace to life, EUC consolidates all systems required for the daily workload and allows employees to work at their most productive, both on premises and remotely.

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, nearly half of UK employees were working from home (46.6 percent), rising to 57.2 percent in London. With new strict guidelines and stay at home orders in place, many workplaces will remain empty into 2021 and it’s likely this new working model will remain in place long after COVID-19 has been eradicated.

Investment in the datacentre and cloud capabilities also remains a top priority for UK organisations, coming in third place. Organisations are pushing the digital agenda to ensure they’re ready to meet the ongoing challenges in the world today.

Pre COVID-19, digital agendas were often held back by change barriers. The pandemic has acted as a tipping point, forcing organisations to deploy cloud technologies in ways never thought possible. As a result, a new era for cloud technology adoption has begun, moving towards a multi-cloud environment with a more strategic emphasis.

What’s more, communication and collaboration tools are now more important to organisations than this time last year, ranked in fifth place (up from seventh position in 2019).

Enabling effective cross-departmental collaboration and driving employee engagement remotely will remain key. Communication technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and Amazon Chime have quickly bridged the gap for businesses to stay connected while apart.

With new work from home guidance being issued, workplace communication technologies will continue to deliver huge productivity benefits to organisations.

The survey also reveals the increased focus on cyber security, end user computing, cloud and communication, comes at the expense of investment in emerging technologies like IoT and AI. For the fourth year running, emerging technologies are ranked in second to last place.

While the UK government is pushing for the UK to become a global leader in data-driven technologies such as AI and investment in the coming years, it seems organisations are continuing to prioritise technologies they can deploy and benefit from today, not tomorrow.

Richard Wyn Griffith, Managing Director of Softcat commented on the findings: “This year has been hugely challenging for every business. Despite each unprecedented twist and turn, organisations have shown agility, creativity and intelligence in the face of the disruption and pressure. 

“It is clear from our 2020 Business Tech Priorities Report that the importance of enterprise IT has truly been solidified, accelerating demand and giving rise to innovative use cases. The future of enterprise IT is looking brighter.”

The full findings from the 2020 Softcat Business Tech Priorities Report can be explored on a dedicated interactive webpage here.

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