Cyber security top priority amid pandemic

Businesses overwhelmingly agree that their biggest technology challenge of the pandemic has been the switch to remote working, and that cyber security is their priority for the coming year.

The 2020 Business Tech Priorities Report from IT infrastructure provider Softcat questioned almost 1,600 businesses in the private and public sectors in the UK and Ireland, and also found that “enhancing the digital workspace” to “boost productivity, engagement and happiness” has been a major challenge during 2020 and one that will continue into 2021.

Cyber security is ranked as organisations’ top technology priority, with 86 per cent saying their focus is keeping users, data and infrastructure secure. This was up from 83 per cent in the same report last year.

The latest report warns that the rapid transformation to a distributed remote work model at the start of 2020 meant many organisations had to “give ground” on security to deliver work flexibility at speed. “Cyber criminals used this disruption to their advantage, with cyber attacks against UK businesses up by a third in the first quarter of 2020,” said Softcat. “This increased activity is set to continue as organisations face further disruption from 'lockdown 2.0'.”

The second priority area for investment is end user computing (EUC). EUC consolidates all systems required for the daily workload and allows employees to work at their most productive, both on premises and remotely.

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, nearly half of UK employees were working from home (46.6 per cent), rising to 57.2 per cent in London.

With new strict guidelines and stay-at-home orders in place, many workplaces will “remain empty into 2021” and “it’s likely” this new working model will remain in place “long after” COVID-19 has been eradicated, Softcat said.

Investment in data centres and cloud capabilities remains a top priority for UK organisations, coming in third place. “A new era for cloud technology adoption has begun, moving towards a multi-cloud environment with a more strategic emphasis,” says the report.

Communication and collaboration tools are also now more important, with the likes of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and Amazon Chime being prioritised by survey respondents.

Because of the priority given to the pandemic though, the survey found that emerging technologies such as IoT and AI were taking a back seat at most companies, for now.

Richard Wyn Griffith, managing director of Softcat, said: “Despite each unprecedented twist and turn, organisations have shown agility, creativity and intelligence in the face of the disruption and pressure. The importance of enterprise IT has truly been solidified, accelerating demand and giving rise to innovative use cases.”

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