At the end of summer 2020, 2nd Watch surveyed over 100 cloud-focused IT directors about their cloud use. Now in 2021, we’re looking back at the 2020 Enterprise Cloud Trends Report to highlight six situations to anticipate going forward. As you would expect, COVID-19 vaccination availability, loosening of restrictions, and personal comfort levels continue to be an influential focus of cloud growth, and a significant factor in the acceleration of digital transformation.

1. Remote work adoption

The forced experiment of work from home, work from anywhere, and remote work in general has proven effective for many organizations. Employees are happy with the flexibility, and many businesses are enjoying increased productivity, a larger talent pool, and significant cost savings. While just about half (46%) of survey respondents said more than 50% of their employees were working remote in summer 2020, that number is expected to grow 14%. Rather than pulling back on remote work enablement, 60% of companies say almost 60% of employees will work away from the office.

2. Remote work challenges

It’s anticipated that as the number of remote workers grows, so do the challenges of managing the distributed work environment. Remote access, specifically into a corporate system, is the highest ranked challenge by survey respondents. Other issues include the capacity of conferencing and collaboration tools, and user competence. The complexities of both managing remote workers, and being a remote worker continue to evolve.

Business and IT leaders are constantly having to revisit the cloud infrastructure established in 2020, to provide flexibility, access, and business continuity during 2021 and beyond.

3. Cloud services and business collaboration

The cloud services market is maintaining their COVID-19 growth spurt, but the relationship between provider and client is shifting. The digital transformation and increasing reliance on cloud-based services is creating a new level of engagement and desire for collaboration from businesses. Organizations want to work alongside cloud providers and service providers so they can upskill along the way, and for the future. Businesses are using providers to build their cloud foundation and establish some pipelines – particularly around data migration – and in effect, learning on the job. As the business gets more involved in each project, and continues to build skills and evolve their DevOps culture, they can ultimately reduce their dependence, and associated costs, on cloud partners.

4. Growing cloud budgets

Surviving and thriving organizations have been, and continue to, position themselves for the long haul. Just over 64% of survey respondents said their cloud budgets had either remained the same, or increased. And almost 60% say their cloud budget will grow over the next 12 months.

Many are utilizing this time to gain competitive advantage by improving mobile app development, customer experience, and operations. The expectation of a payback period has businesses focused on boosting ROI using cloud-based services. 2020 forced business leaders to re-adjust how they see IT within their organization. It’s no longer a cost center, but something that can propel and enable the company forward.

5. Cloud security and data governance

As everyone moved out of the office in 2020, hackers took notice. Since then, ransomware attacks have been steadily increasing and there’s no signs of slowing down. The majority of survey respondents, 75%, agreed that cloud security and data governance are their number one concern and priority.

High profile breaches and remote work risks are grabbing headlines, causing organizations to question their security posture, and the tools necessary to prevent incidents. The role of proactive AI in cloud security is enabling faster response times and higher visibility into recovery and prevention. While tools are getting better, threats are also getting bigger.

6. Optimism

Overall, the majority of respondents are leaning in to today’s circumstances and have a positive perspective on the future. With many organizations responding by accelerating cloud use to support the current environment, the most successful are also thinking ahead. Increasing cloud budgets, fostering external cloud collaboration for skill growth, and relying on the cloud to support remote employees showcases how the business landscape has changed. Data is more critical than ever as organizations accelerate toward the digital transformation – and the future looks bright.

Stay tuned for the 2021 Enterprise Cloud Trends Report for a focus on IT departments, see what security improvements have been made, and how organizations are continuing to use and support remote environments. Until then, if you’re moving applications to the cloud, modernizing your licensed database systems, and optimizing cloud use, let 2nd Watch help! With premier services across cloud platforms, and as a trusted cloud advisor, we embrace your unique journey. Contact Us to take the next step.

Nicole Maus – Director of Marketing