How hybrid working is impacting IT spending and priorities

Work professional researching how hybrid working is impacting IT spending and priorities

Evolving priorities

IT spending has undergone a fundamental reshuffle in the last couple of years, as organisations managed an initial sudden shift to remote working, and then moved to reconfigure plans to better reflect the ‘new normal’. For many, this means implementing a long-term commitment to remote or hybrid working, where employees move between multiple working locations. Organisations are investing heavily in enterprise software that supports a ‘location-agnostic’, 'digital business' approach which allows staff to be equally productive whether they’re sitting together or miles apart.

Considerations that, in the past, may have been low down the list of priorities are now vying for significant proportions of IT budgets. These new directions are likely to continue to change in order to support new working environments as they evolve.

A catalyst for digital transformation

IT investment in digital transformation increased exponentially since 2020, initially out of the necessity. Nearly half (46%) of IT staff in one study said spending on remote working became easier to justify and was accelerated because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 29% said their organisation had ‘found’ budget to pursue a technology improvement that was previously thought too expensive or unnecessary.

According to a survey, 76% of employees polled across eleven countries had used at least one new technology or application during the pandemic, with 36% adopting mobile apps for some tasks. And these changes seem to have been embraced by workers: 38% of respondents were fearful that their organisation would backtrack to pre-pandemic processes.

In fact, the reverse is true. By 2022, despite legally mandated working from home ending, organisations everywhere were still investing heavily in enabling remote working. Gartner reported that spending on cloud-based services was responsible for nearly all of the 11% of spending growth within the enterprise software segment as organisations focus on upgrading their software stack to prioritise software as a service (SaaS), specifically to support ongoing flexibility and agility.

The great outsource

The great outsource

Given the speed with which businesses have had to adjust in the last couple of years, it’s no surprise that IT teams are looking for external support. Gartner forecast that the IT services segment, which includes consulting and managed services, is set to have the second highest spending growth in 2022, rising 7.9% from 2021. This is particularly true for enterprises, where there is a larger workforce to support.

While hybrid working has significant benefits for employees and for businesses overall, it does complicate IT management. When employees work from multiple locations, it’s harder for IT teams to monitor and manage technologies. As a result, businesses are going beyond software to expand the technologies they buy as-a-service, including device contracts. These types of services not only free up IT teams to focus on more strategic tasks, but often come with additional benefits like reporting and analytics that in-house teams would not have the capacity to spend time on.

Security revamp

With cyber threats now spread across not only office spaces but remote locations and personal devices, IT teams have their work cut out for them. In fact, many organisations are taking the approach of zero-trust security.

New security threats and issues will always come along, especially during periods of change. Furthermore, risk accumulates over time – an effect known as cyber debt or security debt – and clearing it will support a fresh era of hybrid working. Organisations can mitigate risk by undertaking an exploration of its entire online estate, including all internet-enabled devices, where data is stored and how it is shared, how authentication is managed, and the tools employees use for collaboration. This mapping mission will provide an insight on which to base security assessments. It’s also important to look beyond one’s own organisation and consider the entire supply chain to identify weak links that could become vulnerabilities.

Indeed, organisations and their IT teams should focus on the future for every element of their IT spending, viewing the shift to remote working during the pandemic as part of an ongoing evolution towards more flexible working, rather than an interruption to business as usual. Crisis-management spending in 2020-2021 can now be considered an investment that supports digital transformation and productive, efficient and secure hybrid working for business growth.

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