Lockdown has driven the largest ever surge in technology investment

Business, Security

Working more effectively from home

This year has seen a huge surge in technology investment, much of it driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. The changes forced upon all aspects of our lifestyles, from work to socialising and study, has identified the need for the best possible IT provision.

The shift to remote working has seen companies investing on a vast scale. A KPMG CIO survey estimates that an extra $15 billion per week was invested in new tech during the first three months of lockdown (worldwide). This expenditure is one of the greatest increases in technology investment ever recorded, and reflects the need of businesses to make their organisations viable in this new age of home based working. Whilst many previously little-known companies such as Zoom have certainly benefited from the shift in working patterns, it is not just the facilitators of home working that are thriving but rather an increase in investment across broader areas including cyber-security and digital infrastructure.

The urgency of digitisation

Digitisation has been accelerated, with many more organisations making it a priority. Investments in blockchain technologies, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are currently popular, and look set to establish these up-and-coming technologies as key players in the future, forming the cornerstones of new digital strategies. New applications of AI to customer service for example, is a boon for companies looking to improve their customer experience, whilst maximising efficiency and productivity.

The 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG survey found that it is digital companies that are investing most heavily in additional and new technology, up to 50% more than most other organisations. The future outcomes for those organisations that are not investing in new technology may now be in jeopardy however, since widespread digitisation is becoming increasingly essential in all markets.

Security is more important than ever

The rise in remote working has also been shadowed by a surge in cyber-crime. According to this year’s survey by Harvey Nash/KPMG there has been a marked increase in cyber-attacks, with almost 40% of CIOs questioned saying their organisations have been subjected to more attempted breaches than usual. The most frequent forms of cyber-attack include phishing (involved in 83% of attacks) and malware (involved in 64%), suggesting that the move to remote working has exposed companies to new security challenges. Employees working from their home are vulnerable to exploitation by cyber criminals, because domestic hardware and personal devices are rarely secure and lack advanced security features such as proper firewalls. As a result, investment in security technologies is a priority for many organisations.

Many investment opportunities

There are many more areas that are attracting financial investment, with cloud systems being one of the most popular propositions. After expenditure relating to security and privacy measures, organisations are spending most on their infrastructure, with cloud solutions increasingly popular. Such systems are cheaper and easier to run than in-house data centres, as they are expertly maintained and managed by a third-party, and can offer excellent agility and scalability in this mercurial business climate. In particular, distributed Cloud computing is growing in popularity as it offers greater functionality, and is an ideal counterpart to the other emergent technologies, such as AI. Software as a service (SaaS) has also seen increased investment, indicating again that Cloud-based technologies will be a major feature of new digitisation roll-outs.

It is not just software that is seeing a boom in investment. An organisation is only as strong as its employees after all, so it is reassuring to see that many organisations are recognising the impact of remote working on employees. Many people affected by the challenges of lockdown experience feelings such as isolation or uncertainty. The survey records that almost 60% of the companies questioned are therefore buying into programs designed to support the mental well-being of their staff through these difficult times, which certainly makes for a wise investment.

Lockdown has undoubtedly changed many facets of our daily lives, and organisations looking to survive and thrive in our “new normal” have been quick to adapt through strategic technology investments. Increasing spend on security features is a smart move for any business now relying on remote working, and so too is forward-thinking strategic investment in technologies likely to dominate in the future, such as AI and blockchain. Even for smaller businesses, websites, mobile apps and Cloud-based services are becoming ever more attractive. Businesses that can successfully re-invent themselves based on secure but agile infrastructure solutions look well set to grow in the coming years.