As 2020 comes to a close, many are looking forward to what 2021 will bring, and what it will mean for businesses still grappling with the fallout of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and civil unrest. Traditional norms were no doubt disrupted in 2020, which makes 2021 predictions a big question mark of how things will evolve.
Here are what a few of InterVision’s experts see coming in 2021, and what companies should be doing to prepare.
Remote Workforces Are Here to Stay
Workforce enablement changed dramatically in 2020. The explosion of a remote workforce is something many organizations will integrate into their new normal, possibly forever. 2021 will see many CIOs re-evaluating workforce enablement tools, including their collaboration stack, SaaS applications in lieu of legacy on-premises applications, and VDI. Yes, VDI. Remote workforce enablement is a use-case that screams for VDI. Companies will find VDI solves many of their enablement issues. They will also find it may not be a fit for all users in all cases. Workforce enablement will require a hybrid approach, matching the right tool for the right problem.
Companies Will Strive to Keep a Fast Pace of Change
The relationship between IT and the rest of the business is stronger than ever before. COVID has created a new way of working. Dubbed “Pandemic Mode” (as opposed to incrementalism), it encompasses faster decision making, more responsiveness from IT, and reduction in the onerous processes. This is a much faster pace than many businesses and IT shops are accustomed to working. This will lead to more companies adopting agile methodologies. This adoption will be driven by the business demands to keep up the “Pandemic Mode” pace of change.
Hiring Will Take an Emphasis on IT Security and Digitization
Security professionals will continue to be high on everyone’s list. Where the shift will come is in the areas of cloud and digital business. Companies will accelerate the migration to the cloud, putting pressure on the job market for experienced cloud architects and engineers. In addition, 2020 and the shelter-in-place orders across the group disrupted supply chains and uncovered manual business processes. Companies will look to further their digitization, creating a demand for digital business architects, robotic process automation engineers, and AI architects.
SASE Will Continue to Grow in Popularity
While it’s at Gartner’s peak of the hype cycle, the technology set known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) will continue to gain adoption as organizations move past the quick response measures they enacted this year for their massive and unexpected increase in remote worker connectivity. Many IT networking groups unfortunately found the strain and limits of their remote access VPN concentrators and even after overcoming or addressing those breaking points, they next coped with emerging issues in their bandwidth constraints, lack of network segmentation, weakness in endpoint security solutions, and myriad untrusted devices connecting to sensitive corporate systems. Wise IT groups will budget and start planning for a more converged and integrated cloud-based approach to remote device, workforce, and distributed security technology known as SASE.
Companies Will Continue to Face the Harsh Reality of Ransomware
Ransomware protection… the hard way. Many organizations are already weakened due to COVID-19 impacts and one significant ransomware situation could be an ending event. Too many organizations are increasingly learning the value of their data, their systems, and their operations by having it infiltrated, taken over, and held hostage by successful online organized crime groups. While vendors compete for eyeballs and mindshare to present their anti-ransomware solutions, the reality is setting in that this threat is beyond the scope of any one technology or vendor, and that detective and preventative controls need to be layered across the entire attack surface — sometimes even doubly applied – to be successful in deterrence and protection. From an impact perspective, organizations absolutely need to understand their total value of assets at risk, anticipate a major impact to their operations, evaluate potential liabilities to shareholders/customers, and make investments NOW to protect data, operations, and their overall viability.
Without Effective Security Integration, ML/AI Systems May Overwhelm Operations
Integration is now king in security technology. No silver bullet exists, so turning threat detection into rapid containment and response takes tight integration. Security automation is only as powerful as the value of the heuristics and the completeness of indicators in a timely, thorough manner. While ML/AI systems are able to detect threats faster and more completely than ever before, keeping pace with IT environment growth without multi-vendor/multi-tech correlation, they are beginning to produce more noise than signal to security operations. As a result, companies intent on adopting ML/AI in 2021 should do so while keeping a careful eye on their Incident Response security stance, how notifications will be processed and tracked, and how it will assist (rather than hinder) integration efforts. Recall, in very large publicly disclosed breaches, many times the organization did receive notice of intrusion, but failed to take appropriate action in a timely manner. Security incident and event data is only as valuable as the actions taken in response.
Cybersecurity Success Will Mean Improving Post-Event Restoration
Shift from sexy technologies addressing the preventative and detective controls and move to foundational and higher-value directive and restorative controls. This also means security teams need to progress from blocking and tackling technology towards governance in quantifying risk and making executive decisions on acceptable and appropriate remediation or mitigating measures. It’s also past time to talk about the “if” and shift strategy to the “when” by having effective, verified, and high-assurance abilities to restore after an incident or disaster, commensurate with the threats and risks of the organization. A strategy must be put into action to be effective, therefore it’s essential to repeatedly test and iteratively improve on that restoration strategy to build confidence and assurance that it will work when most needed.
Cloud Will Remain an Essential Objective
The effects of COVID-19 will linger throughout 2021, as businesses will look to lay a foundation for increased agility. Cloud will take a key focus in this goal, given its benefits of improved accessibility, scalability and flexibility. However, not everyone will be successful in the cloud. Those companies who view cloud as a journey and not a destination will see more success. This is because simply “getting to the cloud” doesn’t automatically mean you’ll see improved performance and spending. Instead, cloud is an iterative process of optimization and creating security-by-design to match your company’s goals, both now and in the long term.
We’ll See an Uptick of Architecting for Data Science
Mastering data management will be top of mind for many IT groups as they look to improve business intelligence and agility. For this reason, data science—the umbrella under which artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, data lakes and others thrive—will see huge growth in 2021. From analyzing data-driven behaviors to transform grocery shopping to leveraging powerful computing in the cloud to improve media production models, data science will take the lead for many to stay competitive. Too expensive to provision on their own, many of these companies will outsource their data science projects to third parties with a subscription model.
As-a-Service Will Be the New Normal
As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to linger well into 2021, more businesses will embrace “as-a-service” offerings to both save on costs and empower their IT departments to do more with fewer maintenance burdens. The cloud-based, on-demand platforms of “as-a-service” offerings have become a great equalizer for many smaller organizations with tighter budgets than their larger competitors, allowing them to adopt previously out-of-reach innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics. The ability for “as-a-service” cloud-based offerings to scale instantly allows for rapid organizational or customer demand changes to be met with ease. Thanks to the convergence of a slew of startups and public cloud companies like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS), so many now can innovate with technologies they were never able to leverage before, all with reasonable upfront costs for tools, technologies and access to specialized people.
IT Priorities Will Build Upon Cloud with the Help of Third Parties
The COVID-19 crisis has caused drastic changes in customer behavior, supply, and demand worldwide; creating a new business paradigm, which in turn, has increased the urgency and criticality for digitalization and business transformation. As a result of this urgency, an acceleration is occurring in public cloud adoption and other innovative technologies. Business leaders are realizing they cannot make technology changes fast enough on their own, and are seeking out IT solution providers who can implement and support solutions that facilitate rapid business change—as well as provide ongoing assurance that systems and data will be maintained for efficient operational security, reliability, and performance as the business world continues to change rapidly. Businesses that do this well, selecting the right third-party expertise, will satisfy their customers, prosper, and create more jobs.
Here’s to a Great New Year
From all of us at InterVision, we are wishing you a fruitful 2021!
As we reflect on lessons learned from 2020, one commonality among those we saw thrive is that being prepared for the uncertain means pivoting your company toward a stance that emphasizes agility, speed and security. The purpose of technology is to enable a greater standard of living for all humanity, and evolutionary innovations are on the horizon seeking to fulfill this promise. Whether or not they’ll happen in the new year is yet to be seen, but one thing we can count on is that evolution will occur, competition will be fierce, and only the nimblest companies will see success.
To speak with one of our experts more about their 2021 prediction(s), reach out to them on LinkedIn or contact us here.
NOTE: A few of these predictions first appeared in the Disaster Recovery Journal: “InterVision 2021 Predictions”