By Dominik Birgelen, CEO of oneclick AG
The role of the modern Chief Information Officer (CIO) can be a diverse one. From ensuring a solid technical infrastructure across an organisation, maintaining rigorous security processes to ensuring teams are well-versed on how to use the tools to carry out their daily tasks. What’s more, businesses prior to the COVID-19 pandemic could not create enough urgency for transformation within their own organisations. The global crisis has given businesses the permission and courage to change their approach to accepting digital transformation. Now, the pressure is on for CIOs to sustain the acceleration for when some sense of stability returns.
Yet, as the role of the CIO continues to evolve, so do the challenges that come with it. One long-standing challenge faced by the majority of CIOs is maximising their budgets in order to meet both the CFO’s and CEO’s needs of ensuring business operations in a cost effective way. As a result of the pandemic and the need to work from home, many businesses dramatically slashed their IT budgets leading both Gartner and IDC to revise their 2020 forecasts and estimating a significant drop in IT investment.
A new wave in IT investments
While the future may appear bleak for overall business investments, the truth is the way businesses are investing will change. For instance, last year alone saw retailers increase their investments in technology as a way of bolstering their online ecommerce platforms to remain operational. As for retail giant Primark, refusing to offer an online store, despite a £1 billion loss over lockdown, risks collapse thanks to the pandemic. Additionally, the education sector rolled out more technology to support remote learning facilities and virtual classrooms. In fact, according to a recent study it was discovered, UK schools relied on over 140 different remote learning tools and providers last Winter term.
Opting for an all-in-one cloud solution
According to analysts, one technology that will remain unchanged will be the cloud. Business leaders can look up to the cloud as IT’s brightspot; with IDC forecasting a 3.8 percent growth and Gartner predicting more businesses will invest in the cloud over the next two years. Since its inception, the cloud has been helping businesses dramatically transform daily operations; providing flexible and scalable working solutions for organisations of all sizes. Yet, interestingly, the cloud itself has continued to mature over the years. It’s no longer just a platform to remotely store and access files but instead can provide businesses and their staff the ability to access all business applications with any device connected to a browser.
As CEOs turn to CIOs to create new efficiencies, new value and support change initiatives, such as remote working, cloud makes the ideal solution. In particular, CIOs can now look to the cloud’s latest evolution: Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) that offers all components as an instantly available service to provide applications and data easily, quickly and securely. By leveraging the abstractions of previous developments in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) workers are able to log in to their entire virtual workspace with access to all their data without compromising on security.
XaaS can help businesses gain a competitive advantage as the solution serves current needs perfectly; with distributed teams demanding agile interactions with each other. The pinnacle of this cloud evolution journey is the Unified Workspace, which provides a central portal for the execution of any business-related task. A Unified Workspace grants combined access to all applications, data and content, and tools for collaboration. With an entire workspace rolled into one, Xaas cloud solutions are meeting the budgetary burdens placed on the CIO’s shoulders; enabling them to do more for less.
Preparing for an uncertain business future
So it’s clear that adopting advanced cloud solutions enhance the daily operations of a modern, remote workforce. But how does cloud technology help navigate the challenges that businesses may face over the next 12 months?
The long-awaited digital transformations that occurred throughout 2020, has meant this year looks significantly different than originally predicted. As a result, businesses are facing newer, unforeseen challenges in 2021. For example, data security and privacy will garner increased attention with a growing remote workforce resulting in additional vulnerable information. Advanced cloud solutions are now available with cyber insurance that assures an architecture for vulnerabilities against external attackers or malware that pose a threat to company networks.
What’s more, as artificial intelligence (AI) further embeds itself into a number of industries, it’s important for CIOs to invest in a cloud solution that adheres to business process automation. With XaaS, scaling in response to increasing automations becomes effortless, without the need for further software to deal with complex AI- based software.
There are mounting pressures on CIOs to deliver cost-effective, efficient IT solutions as the business landscape continues to shift and recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic. Not only are they now having to do more with less budget, but the need to continue working from home for the foreseeable future means that IT needs are continuing to shift. With most industry analysts backing cloud as IT’s bright spot, cloud adoption can enhance daily operations, ensure team well-being and navigate the challenges that businesses may face over the next 12 months.