Five IT lessons from 2020

In some ways, 2021 doesn’t feel any different to 2020 but as businesses begin to emerge from the crisis, what have the last few months taught us? How have working behaviours and IT solutions changed? The business community has certainly shown how flexible it can be as organisations shape-shift at short notice. Employees have shown resilience as they continue to transact and communicate in a virtual world. But what does the future hold? We share our observations – the top five IT lessons from 2020.

Flexible working is a viable option.

Almost 11 months working from home, employees have quickly adapted to Microsoft Teams calls and virtual project-based collaboration. Consequently, the volume of Teams users more than doubled during the first UK lockdown, and has since risen to over 115 million.

Agile helped all its clients to quickly pivot to working from home. Many already had a disaster recovery solution already in place and so were well-prepared for such a scenario. However, many other Essex and Suffolk businesses were not quite so ready, and it was a steep learning-curve.

Before the pandemic, 68% of UK employees had never even worked from home. However, in a YouGov survey published in September 2020, 57% intend to continue to work from home in some capacity, even if it is for just a day each week.

Only time will tell but it seems as if flexible home working is here to stay.

Business Continuity is King.

We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘content is king’ when it comes to web design. Well, the unexpected events of 2020 propelled business continuity planning to the top of the Board’s agenda.

Many organisations approached Agile after having been caught off guard by the need to rapidly pivot to home working. Those who reached out to us for help were desperate to stay in touch with colleagues and customers. Yet, they did not have the infrastructure or IT equipment to enable remote access to data and business technology.

Far too many businesses discovered the hard way that business continuity is an essential component to running a business. It’s not purely about having regular backups to prevent data loss. Minimising downtime is absolutely essential.

So, 2020 taught everyone to plan for the unexpected, have a failsafe business recovery solution, and invest in technology.

Remote security must come first.

Although working from home has saved many tens of thousands of businesses, it also has its challenges. One of the most disruptive drawbacks is the ongoing threat of cyberattacks.

In the haste to get everyone set-up and working from home, not all businesses put in place the necessary steps to protect against cyber security threats. As a result, and due to surge in targeted attacks, Microsoft reported a huge surge in cyberattacks, with devastating consequences.

Thankfully, businesses have gleaned a lot from the IT lessons from 2020. As a reminder though, here are a few steps that you should be taking to protect your business from cyberattacks when your staff are working remotely:

  • Use company-provided devices that are locked down with an appropriate password policy and endpoint security.
  • Make sure all endpoint security products and devices are fully up-to-date.
  • Ensure that all employees’ home network/Wi-Fi are password protected.
  • If employees are using personal devices, consider implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that outlines minimum requirements before staff are given access to company resources.
  • Make sure all data is backed up and available in an offsite location (in case of ransomware attacks or data loss).
  • Ensure your employees are comfortable with what’s been provided, and if not, provide a forum where they can ask questions

Virtual collaboration is key.

Microsoft, along with Zoom, has been in the limelight in enabling virtual collaboration as people work from home.

To stay ahead of the curve, Microsoft Teams progressed as much in 2020 as it had done in its entire 4-year product life before the pandemic.

Consequently, the way employees engage with one another has changed, quite possibly forever. Video conference calling used to be a nice to have, but now it’s now a must.

Investing in technology is essential.

Investing in technology at a time of great uncertainty may sound wrong. However, if 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that businesses must be able to adapt to survive. A big part of this is technology. There’s a huge chasm that’s developed between tech-savvy and tech-adverse businesses, with many organisations being completely usurped by the competition.

2020 is widely reported to have accelerated technology growth by around seven years. According to Gartner, in 2021 alone, the public cloud infrastructure will grow by 35%. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions such as cloud storage and data backup, and Disaster Recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS), will be the fastest growing segments of the market.

Going forward, the need for greater connectivity, faster access to data and cloud migration, will continue to increase. This will enhance the business world’s focus on enterprise-level cloud solutions.

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