Enterprise IT remains focused on long-term organization-changing initiatives, despite COVID-19 crisis: Survey

While COVID-19 has unquestionably altered the cloud strategies of enterprise IT executives, the vast majority are still moving forward with big-picture digital transformation initiatives ? and most IT execs think they?ll see an increase in their cloud budgets to support these projects over the next 12 months, according to 2nd Watch?s survey, titled 2020 Enterprise Cloud Trends.

The survey was completed by 100+ cloud-focused IT directors or above in companies with at least USD 500 million in annual sales and IT budgets of at least USD 50 million per year. 45% of survey respondents were from technology companies, 16% from financial services and 14% from manufacturing. The remaining 25% ranged from retail, oil and gas, and life sciences companies to CPG, media and entertainment, and ?other? companies. 93% of respondents use at least two cloud platforms, with Microsoft Azure being the most popular primary platform.

Following are the survey highlights and important trends:

  • Support for Remote Workers is the Top Enterprise IT Challenge: 82% of respondents said they?ve experienced cloud-related challenges and 77% said these challenges have caused them to alter their cloud strategies. 63% said the top challenge has been providing remote workers access to corporate systems. 57% said remote worker complexity/support was their biggest challenge, and 47% said that conferencing/collaboration systems haven’t worked as expected.
  • Number of Workers Who Need Cloud-Enabled Support is on the Rise: 50% of respondents said they?re accelerating the use of cloud to support remote employees. That?s because 58% of respondents said at least half of their company?s employees will become full-time remote workers in 2021, up from 47% before the pandemic began.
  • Companies are Accelerating Digital Transformation and Cloud Use: 60% of respondents said they are prioritizing projects with potentially large payoffs, such as company-wide digital transformation, over cost-conscious projects. The reason: 47% said now is the time to position their company for the long haul. Meanwhile, 39% of respondents said they are accelerating the use of cloud to deliver digital products, and 34% said they are accelerating the migration of applications to the cloud.
  • Cloud Security and Cloud-Native Culture Change are the Top Priorities: 46% of survey respondents said they?re experiencing cloud security related challenges due to COVID-19. Not surprisingly, then, 75% said they?re prioritizing cloud security. Meanwhile, 60% of survey respondents said their top priority right now is cloud-native culture change (or DevOps), and 51% said the top priority is conferencing/collaboration, which likely reflects the growing need to support remote workers.
  • Pre-COVID-19 Cloud Budgets Remain Mostly Intact and Expected to Grow: 64% of survey respondents said their IT related budgets have stayed the same or grown since COVID-19 began, and 59% said their cloud budgets would increase over the next 12 months ? with 23% saying their cloud budgets would increase significantly in that time.
  • Engineering, Finance and Sales Have Been the Biggest Cloud Spenders: 27% of respondents said Engineering has been the most aggressive department in terms of its use of cloud infrastructure and applications since COVID-19 began, followed by Sales (23%) and Finance (20%). 36% said the reason was due to the fact that these departments have more remote workers than other departments, and 30% said the reason is because the work they?re doing is more critical to the success of the business.
  • Some Cloud-Related Technologies Will Emerge Stronger Than Ever: As companies adjust their IT strategies in response to the pandemic, a few cloud-related technologies will become more popular than they were pre-COVID-19. For example, 26% of survey respondents said data lakes would be a primary area of focus over the next 12 months compared to 22% who said it was a focus prior to the pandemic. Likewise, 35% said data warehousing would be a focus going forward compared to 27% pre-COVID-19. 42% said databases would be prioritized over the next year compared to 40% who said the technology was a focus before the crisis. Meanwhile, 39% said the Internet of Things would be a focus for the next year compared to 48% who said it was a focus before COVID. AI/ML projects may also be on the demise, with 34% saying it would be a focus over the next year compared to 41% who planned to focus on it prior to the pandemic.

?What we?re seeing here is consistent with what our clients are telling us and the continued goals of our active cloud modernization programs,? said Chris Garvey, EVP of Product at 2nd Watch. ?The pandemic may be causing IT leaders to adjust their priorities, but they?re not backing down from big-picture efforts that can transform and position their organizations for long-term success. As more businesses reopen, we expect demand for cloud modernization services to increase further.?

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