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Tech trends: ICT in the UK today Aruba, Emergence, Context, IWG, Regus, Connectwise, Transputec & Centrify

Covid-19 powers cloud networking investment

IT leaders in EMEA have responded to the coronavirus crisis by investing more in cloud-based and AI-powered networking technologies, claims a new report from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

Preparing for the post-pandemic workplace claims that in order to support a hybrid workplace, in which people move seamlessly between working on campus, at home and on the road, IT leaders are shifting away from CapEx investments in network infrastructure towards solutions consumed ‘as a service’.

It predicts that the average proportion of IT services consumed via subscription will grow by 41% over the next two years, from 29% of the total today to 41% in 2022. Over the same period, the proportion of organisations that consume more than half of their IT solutions ‘as a service’ is expected to increase by approximately 74%.

Morten Illum, EMEA Vice President for Aruba, said: “The emergence of the hybrid workplace is pushing IT leaders to deliver a delicate balance between flexibility, security and affordability at the edge. The workplace as we knew it has significantly changed and to support new norms, such as social distancing and contactless experiences, office locations need to have the right technology in place to offer enterprise-level connectivity, security and support. All this must be done in an increasingly challenging financial environment which is spurring the trend for IT decision-makers to opt for the reduced risk and cost advantages offered by a subscription model.”

IT decision-makers in EMEA say they plan to explore new subscription models for hardware/software (50%), networking (50%), managed services (51%) and financial leasing (29%).

Despite short-term postponements and cancellations of networking projects since the onset of Covid-19, reported by 74% and 30% of global respondents respectively, most IT decision-makers plan to increase or maintain their networking investments:

*38% plan to increase investment in cloud-based networking solutions that allow remote network management at large scale, with 45% maintaining the existing level and 15% scaling back;
*34% plan to increase investment in analytics and assurance to troubleshoot and fine-tune the network more efficiently, with 48% maintaining the existing level and 15% reducing it; and
*35% are planning to increase investment in AI-based networking technologies that automate repetitive tasks.

Illum added: “The pandemic has caused many organisations to rethink their IT infrastructure investment to build business models that are agile, adaptable and fit for purpose. While there may have been an initial negative impact on ongoing projects, it is encouraging to see that there are firm medium-term plans in place to invest in advancing network technologies enabled by more flexible models of consumption that limit up-front capital demands.”

Business in the dark when it comes to data

Well over half (60%) of UK businesses fear that data volumes are growing faster than their ability to keep up, claims Data-to-Everything Platform provider Splunk in its new report, The Data Age Is Here. Are You Ready?. Two-thirds (67%) of global respondents expect the quantity of data to increase by almost 500% over the next five years, driven by emerging technologies like Edge Computing, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial intelligence and machine learning, Augmented and virtual reality and blockchain. While data is seen as extremely or very valuable to business success (81%), innovation (75%) and cybersecurity (78%), two thirds report that at least 50% of their data is dark (i.e. untapped, unknown, unused) – 10% more than last year.

UK behind the pace in investment in automation

Almost half (46%) of UK businesses have increased their investment in automation since lockdown, according to new research from emerging technology consultants Emergence Partners, compared to 75% in the US, 68% in France and 67% in Germany.

Lack of in-house tech knowledge and skills (39%) and the absence of a strategic approach to technology buying (30%) remain the key sticking points for businesses globally, followed by the difficulty of navigating a ‘complex and commoditised automation ecosystem’ (29%); lack of senior level buy-in (24%); outdated vendor licensing models (21%); and a lack of consultancy/support from vendors (20%).

David Poole, CEO of Emergence Partners, said: “Technology adoption is a truly non-negotiable feature of the modern workplace and a top priority for business. However, what’s clear is that businesses feel somewhat lost when looking to invest, whether that’s due to a lack of appropriate knowledge within their team or a sense of confusion when trying to navigate the vendor landscape.”

Cybersecurity top reason to switch MSP

Nine out of 10 SMBs (91%) would consider moving to a new IT service provider if it offered the ‘right’ cybersecurity solution. For the 700 decision-makers surveyed for the second annual ConnectWise SMB State of Cybersecurityreport ‘right’ includes having confidence in an MSP’s ability to respond to security incidents (68%) and having confidence in an MSP’s ability to minimise damage or loss (58%). Just over half (52%) of respondents say they lack the in-house skills needed to deal with security issues, with 49% regarding cybersecurity expertise as an added benefit of working with an MSP. Yet, only 13% of SMBs say they regularly have cybersecurity-related conversations with their MSP.

Cloud computing saves businesses

Half (51%) of UK business leaders say their shift to a cloud computing business model saved their company from collapse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research by Centrify, a provider of identity-centric privileged access management solutions, also reveals that 60% are planning to substantially increase their use of cloud-based IT following the pandemic.

Businesses to shrink office space to boost IT investment

More than half of UK businesses are planning to boost spending on digital skills training (56%) and IT infrastructure (53%) in 2021, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, claims managed IT service provider Transputec. Its survey of 200 decision-makers in medium and large organisations also reveals that 44% of businesses are planning to downsize office space and accelerate remote working in order to cut costs; 60% are planning to increase their use of digital collaboration tools to improve staff well-being and create more cohesive teams. Just under half (49%) expect to grow next year.

More training please

Training/education is the area in which distributors can best help resellers succeed in ‘as-a-service’ categories, cited by 55% in a survey of resellers for Context’s 2020 ChannelWatch report. Marketing was in second place, cited by 40%. This year’s report reveals an increase in the number of resellers selling cloud services in five categories – back-up, disaster recovery and storage (up to 70%, from 44% in 2019); infrastructure; security; web hosting and e-commerce; and business applications.

Office lovers in flight to the suburbs

IWG, the operator of flexible workspace brands like Regus and Spaces, is bracing itself for a fundamental shift in the location of offices, after buoyant demand for flexible workspaces in the suburbs fuelled a 22% jump in sales during the summer, offsetting a 40% sales decline in London city centre locations.

In the three months from June to August, IWG’s centres in Uxbridge and Luton both saw a 74% increase in demand for flexible office space, followed by Croydon (36%) and Harrow (25%).

The pattern in the North was similar, if not quite as extreme, with demand for spaces on the outskirts of cities like Manchester growing twice as fast as that for city centre locations (37% compared to 18%).

Although a reduction in commuting times is now a top priority for office workers, cited by 70% of Londoners, IWG claims that people still want to spend time at the office, pointing out that 57% of 2,000 workers surveyed want to return to the office when allowed, albeit not all the time – 46% say they would consider quitting their job if they were asked to return to the office five days a week.

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TechnologyReseller: 2021