As 2020 draws to a close it gives us an opportunity to reflect on one of the toughest years in living memory, one where a global pandemic rapidly changed the world around us. It also sets the tone for 2021 planning as digital transformation trends have been accelerated by Covid-19.
This year saw mass migration to the cloud. All organisations had to embrace a remote working culture whether they were ready or not. Digital transformation was no longer a forward-looking strategy, but an existential necessity.
The world is gripped by uncertainty. When will a vaccine be rolled out? Will there be another wave of the virus? How long will it take for the economy to recover and how will my industry perform over the next year?
Most business leaders are neck-deep in their 2021 planning against this backdrop of uncertainty, and, anecdotally at least, most won’t be making radical changes. Instead, prioritising investments that will see them become more efficient, resilient and future-focused.
Predictions for 2021
Predictions can come back and haunt the person or organisation making them, because, as we saw in 2020, even the best-laid plans can be turned on their head in the wake of a catastrophe. However, 2021 is almost certainly going to be a continuation of what started in the second-half of 2020: a rapid and sustained evolution to deal with the pandemic’s disruption.
This evolution is likely to involve a change in how businesses communicate with their staff, an increased investment in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, a focus on compliance and an increased need to deal effectively with ransomware and cybercrime.
There won’t be a mass-migration back to the office, but a move towards a hybrid working model. Some people will return to offices, but a significant proportion will continue to work remotely in some capacity. This will bring more flexibility in terms of days at the office or even hours worked in the office versus hours completed remotely.
In this new work dynamic, staff are going to be expected to perform more complex tasks from home. At Veeam, we are well-positioned to understand the implications of this by the very nature of our business: organisations are going to continue accelerating their investment in robust Cloud Data Management strategies.
We see an increasing number of organisations seeking out the most cost-effective and efficient ways to harness the power of the cloud. One of the most pressing questions C-suites are faced with today, and which will intensify over the course of 2021, is how best can they invest in efficient multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategies, where data is secure across all their platforms?
As little as a year ago many organisations were on a single path, with one public cloud provider, either AWS or Azure, for instance. As we know, 2020 saw a rapid shift to a decentralised workforce and digitisation of all appropriate and critical systems. Under these circumstances, many customers in South Africa chose to hedge their bets, so to speak, and not rely on a single cloud service provider but have a more diverse approach which included investment into multiple cloud service provider platforms.
The C-suite now has a second, and equally important, question to ask: how do they manage moving data in and out of cloud environments, from on-premise to the cloud, and then from the cloud back to on-premise, in a cost-efficient, automated and compliant manner?
South African enterprises have a double motivation to ensure data compliance in 2021. The first is that the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will come into force during the course of next year. The second is that increased reliance on Cloud Data Management requires robust solutions lest businesses fall foul of regulators, lose the trust of their customers and face heavy fines.
If we look at some of the high-profile incidents that have happened recently, we realise that some were caused during a backup and in the mad scramble to go back live, some personal data found its way back into production. Even more were the result of data breaches and ransomware, which is more prevalent now than ever.
Internet criminals are becoming increasingly innovative and bold, and in our experience in Africa, cybercrime and ransomware are increasing, just as they are around the world. Beyond this, the very fact that remote working is expected to continue is also a threat to businesses – more employees accessing sensitive data and performing critical tasks off-site provides more points of attack for these criminals. Businesses cannot control how employees access systems as effectively as they would if all their staff were working from a traditional office.
2021 will see increased investment in solutions that are able to secure and backup data as well as scan and remove personal data before it is redeployed back into production. In this sense, Veeam had incredible foresight to build this critical thinking into its platform from the early days.
As we approach a new year shrouded with uncertainty, we can be almost certain that investments in digital transformation generally, and Cloud Data Management specifically, will continue to accelerate.