IT Services and the outsourcing of business responsibilities for anticipating, managing, and maintaining the need for a whole range of corporate functions is a growth market. Colin Blumenthal, Vice President IT Services Sharp Europe, looks at the trends that will drive growth for IT Services in 2022 and beyond.
It is safe to say that the modern workplace – whether that is the physical building itself, or increasingly the virtual logins and connections we make to it remotely - has seen remarkable change over the last 18 months. It has forced businesses of all sizes to look at how they conduct business, and too often redefine, sometimes on the fly, how that business needs to run.
IT Services allow organisations to prioritise, optimise, and protect the day-to-day operations of the business, while at the same time putting a strategy in place to help support growth and expansion. For many it has been a vital lifeline in recent times, but what can we expect from the industry in the months and years ahead?
Cybersecurity as Standard: No matter how small a business, the way we interact with technology, opens the door to cyber security risks. As a result, companies of all sizes are steadily growing aware that simply securing the infrastructure is no longer enough, they also need to make sure they have cyber insurance in place.
Then, should the worst happen and there is a cyberattack and successful data breach, for example, the insurance will help cover the cost of recovery and/or any potential fines. The demands from insurance companies that certain principles being in place when it comes to security will drive the demand for IT Services.
Equally, those businesses that deliver IT services may also become targets for cyber criminals, so they will need to focus very much on maintaining and enhancing their own internal security to prevent such attacks.
Making Home Working Secure: Hybrid working will continue to play a regular role for many of us in some guise throughout the year. Therefore, there will be an ongoing need for awareness around cybersecurity and security in general. This will be true for the endpoints, those remote computers connected to the network due to flexible or home working.
IT services can offer more than traditional antivirus software by providing comprehensive protection that is specifically designed to quickly detect, analyse, block, and contain attacks, often without the end-user being aware it is happening.
Connectivity and Connections: Enabling secure hybrid working is vital, and once the hybrid workforce is secure the business can think of connectivity and the various solutions that allow people to come together for meetings and collaboration across multiple locations. This hybrid working pattern, with a typical scenario of a few team members in the office working on one large screen, while others remotely log in from offsite, is something we shall continue to see more of in 2022.
Some businesses mistakenly think that moving everything to the cloud means they can forget about the governance around backup and cybersecurity. However, you must maintain responsibility for your own IT and doing the right things to secure your information and interaction with customers, suppliers, team/staff.
Data Remains King: From a business perspective, data remains the lifeblood of any organisation and is set to be even higher up organisations’ requirements in 2022. Whether this comes in the form of understanding it and reporting on it properly, to manipulating data and using more industry standard tools, such as interactive data visualisation software Microsoft Power BI, to deliver sharper business intelligence to an organisation.
As we start to lean even more on virtual applications, we need to remember that there is more complexity within cloud services, it doesn’t necessarily make things easier. This complexity needs to not only be managed and maintained but also kept secure, which requires expertise, and means partnering with the right solutions provider, offering the best service as the best price.
Changing Buying Habits: We are noticing increased sophistication in buyers’ spending habits, for example, even small businesses are now putting together tenders to buy things. This is being driven by several factors, from cost to the ongoing stock levels and shortages.
The increase in home working has put increased demand on laptops, with an emphasis on better out-of-the-box experiences, such as built-in security chips and better video capabilities. What’s more, we fully expect home office peripherals, such as external monitors, local printers, and headsets etc. to increase in popularity as people look to replicate the office experience in their own homes.
One clear trend we are seeing is that buyers are increasingly looking for security by design and privacy by design, where data protection in the processing procedures is integrated into the technology when created and not added at a later stage. This isn’t simply in the hardware itself, but also the IT services and solutions they are looking to procure – it needs to have more security and privacy built in.
We have spoken a great deal about remote working and the use of the cloud. However, on-premises is still hugely important, especially as businesses of all sizes look to implement the right balance of office and off-site access. As a result, how we use office spaces and their function within an organisation will continue to be examined in 2022. Businesses will need to define that on a case-by-case basis, but IT Service providers can certainly play a role in making sure the best results are in place.
We believe that what businesses need is an IT partner that can give them the right advice and expertise. That may be around cloud or may equally be around on-premises or even a mix of the two. Whatever the future direction of IT Services you can never get away from the fact that you need an IT partner that can give you the right advice for your specific business.
Environmental Considerations: Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) is nothing new, but in recent years it has very much come to the forefront of people’s attentions. As a result, buyers’ habits are changing, buyers are now asking questions on environmental concerns around what they are buying. Recycling is now a standard offering, but increasingly buyers are thinking about the environmental impact their purchase has on packaging, air miles, and the wider ecosystem. We are seeing that businesses are serious about CSR, it is no longer an afterthought - it simply doesn’t happen by accident that you have a good strategy around CSR technology and the buying and procuring of technology – you’ve got to plan around it, allocate more thought, strategy, and budget to make it happen.
Once again, this means working with the right IT partner to make sure that the strategy is delivered, managed, and maintained in the most cost-effective and beneficial way possible.
If you would like to know more about how Sharp is helping businesses of all sizes enhance business priorities through the use of managed services, please Get in Touch.