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2020 has been a year of change and intense pressure on technology teams. Assembly MD Peter Smith looks ahead through 2021 and considers how organisations may use 2020 as a springboard for further development in an era of flexibility, high availability and business continuity.

“For IT teams (and everyone else), 2020 was a year of rapid, disruptive change. Among other things, IT teams suddenly had to support remote workforces. Business operations for entire industries had to change quickly and creatively to stay competitive – putting unprecedented pressure on IT.

Advancements in technology are transforming the modern workplace, whether that’s through mobile hardware such as tablets, hybrids and smartphones, or software in the form of collaboration and video conferencing tools that make it possible for employees to work together as if they’re in the same room.

In this digital era of email, virtual meetings and collaboration tools, it’s easy, convenient and often more productive to work remotely. Employees are more motivated and managers find their workforce is more likely to come up with innovative ideas as they increasingly have the opportunity to pursue new avenues and push their limits.

Last year, 64% of organisations offered a flexible working environment, 21% higher than the year before, which suggests that providing the tools to work remotely is high on the list of priorities for many businesses.

In fact, even the devices we use in the workplace will most likely be very different in the future. Workers traditionally dependent on office-based computers now want more options about what devices they use and where they use them. A survey into mobile access revealed that 43% of business professionals see mobile phones as critical for work, enabling them to use apps and work tools on the go.

By 2025 it’s estimated that over 75 billion devices will be connected to the internet and to each other, generating an expected 79.4 ZB. Many of these will be strictly for personal use, and many will be dedicated solely to work. However a significant proportion are hybrids, used for both work & play.

This brings a different set of challenges for IT leaders who will have to look at appropriate tools and software to enable flexibility, whilst considering security concerns and other issues that remote and on-the-go working open up.

In just a few months, the COVID-19 crisis brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business.

According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digital transformation of their customer & supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by 3-4 years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by an incredible 7 years. Nearly all respondents said that their companies have setup at least temporary solutions to meet many of the new demands on them, and much more quickly than they had thought possible before the crisis.

To stay competitive in this new business and economic environment requires new strategies and practices. Today’s leaders are recognising technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of business, not just a source of efficiencies. Companies that have executed successful responses to the crisis report a range of technology capabilities that others don’t – most notably, the use of more advanced technologies and speed in experimenting and innovating.

Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both organisational and industry levels. During the pandemic consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels, and companies and industry has responded in turn. Rates of adoption are years ahead of where they were when previous surveys were conducted.

As the scalability and flexibility benefits of the cloud continue to prove themselves, many IT teams have responded by moving critical systems. Organisations are using more hybrid and multi-cloud configurations to solve their IT challenges.

We are here to help the SMB innovate, meet these disruptive challenges head on – and win.

Talk to one of our specialists today to learn more about our remote working capabilities; how we’re bringing people, business and technology together; and what this means for you.