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6 Predictions for the IT Industry in a Post-COVID World

COVID-19 has forever disrupted the way the world works and lives. For some IT organizations, the transition was relatively seamless because they had a strong digital foundation. Those companies were already all-in on agile, realizing the need to be flexible and nimble in the face of change. Others weren’t as prepared and have hit some hurdles along the way.

The reality is that nothing may ever be the same again, and maybe that’s a good thing. It forces IT to innovate and strategize. In looking at the IT industry in a post-COVID world, predicting where they go next isn’t exactly uncertain but rather a time for entirely new paths.

Prediction One: Organizations Will Adopt a DevOps Framework

A DevOps framework welcomes collaboration and communication in a team that brings together both development and operations. This approach incites innovation and breaks down silos. It streamlines product iteration in an environment that allows for continuous improvement. In contrast, traditional project teams live in different worlds.

DevOps Embraces Change

DevOps and agile software development create a culture that doesn’t fear change. COVID-19 has, of course, been all about pivoting. Understandably, businesses perceive change as much riskier now than ever before. However, letting this fear of change stifle your organization could result in the risk of deferring it. Change is inevitable in the current climate. DevOps is critical to change being more palatable.

DevOps adoption is no longer something IT organizations can put on the back burner. It’s a strategic business move to stay relevant and competitive. Your organization can realize so many benefits by implementing DevOps, including more reliable and better performing applications, reduced costs, and the ability to innovate proactively, instead of simply reacting when something goes awry.

Prediction Two: Security Risks Will Increase

COVID-19 ushered in new security risks for IT. While cybersecurity has always been a concern for IT, now it looks different for several reasons.

First, distributed teams can present new dimensions of security challenges. There are more endpoints that could be vulnerable. IT teams must commit to a new vigilance by enacting infrastructure changes that address remote work.

Second, the pandemic has been a huge source for phishing and malware activity. A Google Threat Analysis Group report revealed they had blocked over 18 million COVID-19 malware and phishing emails a day! Cybercriminals see an opportunity here, and since 90 percent of data breaches are the result of human error, they prey on employees' anxiety or stress.

With so many opportunists looking to bait organizations to deploy a ransomware attack or steal data, IT teams must step up and embrace a culture of continuous security, which is central to DevSecOps. As discussed, DevOps frameworks enable tech companies to iterate better and faster; they should also include DevSecOps, which means to be “secure by design.” By making this a tenet of your operations and development activities, your applications will be more secure and less vulnerable. This, in turn, helps to increase your uptime and reliability, so there aren’t interruptions for your users.

Prediction Three: Remote Work Is Here to Stay, and Nonadopters Will Lose Out on Talent

By mid to late March, most companies were sending their employees home to work. A Gartner survey revealed that 88 percent of organizations recommended or required remote work. Telecommuting was already on the rise to provide flexibility and reduce overhead costs. Prior to COVID-19, approximately 4.7 million U.S. workers were remote.

Some IT organizations certainly resisted the trend, especially those positions requiring engineers and technicians to be on site to manage infrastructure physically. COVID forced them to make changes and buoyed by applications, data, and infrastructure living in the cloud removed the need for on-prem workers.

Remote Is the New Working Model

IT functions have become comfortable working remotely. They don’t see it as a perk but a new working model. These expectations won’t dissipate, even after the pandemic ends. The lesson here for any IT organization is embracing remote work must be part of your culture; otherwise, you could lose out on talent.

That’s especially true for in-demand roles in IT, such as SREs (site reliability engineers). Trying to hire an SRE is not easy. IT executives say it’s the most needed skill set, according to an industry survey. They also said it’s the most difficult to find. If you want to attract and retain this type of role, you should consider the desire to work remotely. It may be a deciding factor on if they want to come work for you.

The reality is that those companies that don’t adopt remote work will be at a disadvantage in recruiting top talent.

Prediction Four: Accelerated Cloud Migration

Cloud migration has been part of the IT landscape for some time, with companies realizing the benefits of pushing applications and data to the cloud. It’s more secure and reduces overall IT spend. Some organizations weren’t all in on the cloud and had plans to transform over a longer time period. COVID-19 accelerated that. In a McKinsey survey, cloud migration had a 24x greater acceleration post-COVID.

IT had hesitations about moving everything to the cloud, believing it would be too disruptive, or they didn’t think they had the resources or bandwidth. The complexity of migrating legacy systems also kept some from full adoption.

All that went out the window when they had to shift gears. Cloud migration became a top priority and will continue to be as IT makes long-term decisions about how they work and how they manage product development and data.

The Cloud Drives Opportunity

Ultimately the cloud drives opportunity. It centralizes applications to a single source of truth. It enables using powerful tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The cloud ensures access to applications and data and simplifies network infrastructure. IT no longer has to focus on sustaining and maintaining and can turn their attention to improving digital assets.

Prediction Five: Reallocation of IT Budgets

Budget cuts are impacting every industry. While IT is a necessity, it’s still slowing. Gartner predicts IT spending will decline by 8 percent in 2020, dropping from $3.7 trillion in 2019 to $3.4 trillion this year. This downturn doesn’t mean that everything came to a halt. In fact, infrastructure and cloud spending did rise in Q1 2020, while non-cloud expenditures fell. That bump is likely in response to cloud migration and remote work needs.

Looking at budget trends for the rest of 2020 into 2021, the 31st edition of the IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks report has some interesting findings:

- 13 percent of organizations are increasing IT budgets, while 57 percent will be unchanged.
- 79 percent of IT organizations have not cut jobs since the start of the pandemic.

What can we glean from this? Priorities are changing for technology leaders, and they aren’t scaling back IT projects and improvements for the most part. This sentiment reflects that IT is not a cost center but a value center. IT is what keeps organizations moving forward and delivering products that are necessary for the market.

IT Teams Aren’t Shrinking

The other encouraging part of this data is that IT teams aren’t shrinking, so there’s still a strong investment in talent. Without the right teams in place in tech, companies could flounder. Instead, the IT industry in a post-COVID world can actually take budgetary dollars and develop new digital products that have become highly urgent in a changed world. Consider all the technology currently in demand right now—remote collaboration tools, data analytics tools, ecommerce applications, and more. Reacting to what’s important to users is a smart way to redefine IT budgets.

Prediction Six: The Proliferation of Experience Design

Experience design has been on the cusp of IT innovation but living in a mostly virtual world means it’s more important than ever. Experience design is more than just aesthetics or user experience—it’s data-driven. All those meaningful moments between brands and users are happening virtually. Technology companies have always known this; it’s just a bigger part of how they’re developing products now.

Experience design is changing right before our eyes as technology rushes to keep up with user expectations and new landscapes. It will soon permeate every aspect of IT, as every experience becomes user-centric. IT no longer has the luxury to wait for the “right” time to introduce experience design or hone it. It should be rapidly evolving so that these companies retain and grow market share.

When design and technology meet and perfectly balance one another, impactful change can occur. Interactivity and improving ease and workflows of applications will be imperative in the future of experience design. With these enhancements, IT moves from a place of just focusing on infrastructure. Rather, they will consider the entire user journey and every aspect of how technology should align.

IT Will Prioritize the Quality of User Experiences

IT will care more about the quality of the experience than simply worrying about if they can create the experience. For example, consider how experience-centric video conferencing platforms have become post-pandemic. Video conferencing was beneficial before COVID, but now it’s a requirement. With that comes the need to reconsider the experience. Maybe before a platform was in use a few times a month. Now it’s daily. It’s part of the routine of millions of American’s workdays from teachers to healthcare providers to business professionals. Providers like Zoom and its competitors have had to integrate more experience design because their user base and motivations for use changed so much.

How Will Your IT Organization Transform in a Post-COVID World?

With these six predictions, there are both challenges and opportunities. Now is the time to transform in order to thrive. While being afraid of such paradigm shifts is natural, the IT industry has always been resilient. It’s survived many upheavals, coming out stronger and more focused.

If your IT organization is ready to evolve and be ready for what happens next in a post-COVID world, Icreon can help. We are a proven digital transformation partner with a portfolio of services to support the IT industry. Contact us today to start your new journey.