22 oct. 2020

How IT leaders adapted to the COVID-19 economy

  • Connect and support people
  • Our new survey reveals insights on how IT departments faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 — and how they’re preparing for the future.

    There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic changed the IT landscape. And although some of those changes revolved around an obvious shift — remote work — we sought to find out exactly how IT leaders pivoted in early 2020, and whether we can expect those changes to last.

    So, we commissioned a survey of 200 IT leaders in the U.S. — the majority holding the title of manager or higher — to gain insights into how prepared IT departments were at the beginning of the pandemic and how that has impacted their future planning.

    The Common Thread

    What we found was that when faced with a roughly 150% increase in the number of people working from home in a matter of days, most IT leaders were concerned about a common problem: security.

    69% of IT departments received additional funding at the onset of the pandemic. How leaders spent those funds reflects their concerns about security. It was the leading area for spending, beating out cloud storage, and a host of other necessities. In the scramble to provide a stable remote work environment, they rightfully saw employees using their own home networks and devices as considerable risks — risks that the pandemic made unavoidable.

    Preparing Your IT Stack for Remote Work

    Digging deeper, we asked what kinds of tools they invested in to facilitate remote work.

    Not surprisingly, videoconferencing was mentioned the most, appearing on 66% of respondents’ answers.

    Perhaps most telling was how other investments related to security: network security, VPN, and remote device management.

    Periods in which major changes are occurring offer the best chance for hackers to get around security protocols (and nearly 75% of workers moving to remote work certainly qualifies). But there is much more to supporting remote work securely, as reflected in the survey.

    Security Across the IT Stack

    VPNs were not built for that increase of traffic and needed to be upgraded — quickly. Also, IT leaders were looking for ways to have greater control of devices that don’t reside on their networks or may not have even been purchased by the business at all yet were being used to access sensitive systems.

    The security concerns even apply to the tool at the top of the list: videoconferencing. In a pinch, organizations had to make do with whatever they could find, no matter where the traffic was routed or how connections were made. Now that remote work looks to be more permanent — or at least normalized — companies and schools are looking for more secure videoconferencing solutions.

    Hindsight Is 20/20

    We’ve all learned something this year, and our surveyed IT leaders are no exception. What did they learn and how are they moving forward? We asked them.

    When asked if any of their goals have become more important over the course of the pandemic, a vast majority saw the need to improve their security, followed by the need to promote mobile work.

    They also believe that remote work will put burdens on their network security plans and they expect their jobs to focus more on that aspect as we move past the crisis.

    Most professionals feel that remote work will remain popular even after the pandemic has passed. According to our survey, that means every IT purchase from training to tools will take security into consideration.