Top IT Challenges: Collaboration, Cloud and Security
IT Leaders are adapting to new challenges by prioritizing collaboration, cloud and security more than ever before
March 25, 2021
Share this

CIOs and IT decision makers (ITDMs) are looking to maximize investments and drive innovation after a difficult year which raised the profile of IT leaders in driving critical workplace innovation, according to Cisco's new Accelerating Digital Agility Research.

Over the past twelve months, CIOs and ITDMs from across the globe have been challenged to accelerate their digital and cloud capabilities while protecting their organizations from a growing list of expanding security threats. IT leaders must look to maximize critical investments made in 2020.

To set up their organizations for success in 2021 and beyond, IT leaders have adapted priorities and strategy to focus on core issues including delivering secure collaboration tools to keep distributed workforces productive, maximizing technology investments from the past year, delivering the best end-use experience to employees and customers, embracing cloud and "as a Service," and tackling corporate and societal issues with technology.

"IT leaders are at the forefront of ensuring critical success for their organizations in 2021," said Liz Centoni, Cisco's Chief Strategy Officer and GM, Applications. "Even as questions remain and new challenges will surface, CIOs and IT decision makers are telling us they need to accelerate digital agility for their teams, so they have the speed, flexibility and choice to consume services across both traditional and modern environments."

Key findings of the research:

Secure Access and Effective Collaboration

To prepare for the future of work, teams need highly secure access and the best collaboration experiences to succeed as a hybrid workforce.

While a majority (61%) of CIOs and ITDMs are unsure of what the future of work looks like, 89% believe that maintaining security, control, and governance across user devices, networks, clouds, and applications is essential.

Most (86%) agree it is important to empower a distributed workforce with seamless access to applications and high-quality collaborative experiences.

Securing the expanded threat landscape created by a distributed workforce is paramount — 88% believe it is important to secure remote work tools and protect customer or employee data in the distributed work environment.

Optimized end-user experiences

IT teams must create optimized end-user experiences to keep pace with IT environments that have become increasingly distributed, dynamic, and complex.

89% think it is important to ensure a consistent application performance across both the application and infrastructure

More than three-fourths of the CIOs and ITDMs surveyed agree that user experience should focus on delight versus satisfaction. To deliver a great user experience, 89% think it is important to ensure a consistent application performance across both the application and infrastructure, and 86% believe it is important to make infrastructure as dynamic as application software to meet the changing policy and optimization needs of the application and developer.

While the user experience should aim to delight, nearly all (90%) say it is important or very important to maintain application-to-infrastructure security to meet compliance without slowing down the business.

Hybrid Cloud

The need for agility, speed, scalability and security is driving adoption of hybrid cloud environments and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solutions.

CIOs and ITDMs are using cloud to achieve business resilience. However, there is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution.

While most CIOs and ITDMs (84%) agree it is important to offer freedom of choice when it comes to cloud environments — whether on premises, public cloud, private cloud or SaaS — 86% think offering a consistent operational model across these environments is essential.

Nearly 70% of CIOs and ITDMs have adopted SASE solutions because they were investing in cloud applications that needed to be secured (61%), they like to stay up-to-date on industry best practices (56%) and/or their workforce is going to stay distributed (37%).

As-A-Service Solutions

Customers expect a cloud-consumption experience regardless of whether their solutions are deployed on-prem or in the cloud, leading to widespread adoption of "as a Service" solutions.

Of those surveyed, 73% have adopted "as a Service" solutions and 76% use flexible consumption models.

Three fourths of those surveyed believe that "as a Service" will help deliver a better experience for the end user and a better experience for IT teams, helping their organizations achieve operational consistency.

In addition, 76% say "as a Service" will provide better business outcomes, and 77% want "as a Service" solutions to simplify processes and remove risk.

Technology will be a driving factor

Technology will be a driving factor in the facilitation of CIOs and ITDMs to tackle talent retention, internal corporate initiatives and broader societal issues in 2021.

Most CIOs and ITDMs (85%) believe the ability to attract and retain talent in the all-digital world will be critical.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they are upskilling current talent (49%) and investing in talent in new areas (46%) over the next 12 months.

Most CIOs and ITDMs (90%) plan to tackle internal initiatives in 2021, including sustainability (50%), employee mental health (50%), privacy (47%), diversity and inclusion (47%).

In addition, 85% will tackle external societal issues in 2021, including digital divide (39%), healthcare (37%), climate change (35%), social justice (34%), human rights (33%), misinformation or "fake news" (31%), poverty, hunger and homelessness (28%).

Share this

The Latest

April 21, 2021

Few tools provide early detection of mission-critical mail outages. On March 15, Microsoft had a service outage worldwide that impacted its services such as Teams AV, Yammer, OneDrive, and Azure Active Directory. Users reported not being able to login into either of these services and were getting timeout messages ...

April 20, 2021

More than half (60%) of IT organizations are investing in improving employee experience to support remote workforce productivity and performance according to The Changing Role of the IT Leader study by Elastic ...

April 19, 2021

Why are CDNs becoming more important to so many businesses? And how will they handle the new applications coming out over the next few years? APMdigest sat down with Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder of Catchpoint Systems, to find out ...

April 15, 2021

A growing need for process automation as a result of the confluence of digital transformation initiatives with the remote/hybrid work policies brought on by the pandemic was uncovered by an independent survey of over 500 IT Operations, DevOps, and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) professionals commissioned by Transposit for its inaugural State of DevOps Automation Report ...

April 14, 2021

As the Covid-19 pandemic forces a global reset of how we gather and work, 60% of organizations are looking forward to increased spending in 2021 to deploy new technologies, according to the 14th annual State of the Network global study of enterprise networking and security challenges released by VIAVI Solutions ...

April 13, 2021

Complexity breaks correlation. Intelligence brings cohesion. This simple principle is what makes real-time asset intelligence a must-have for AIOps that is meant to diffuse complexity. To further create a context for the user, it is critical to understand service dependencies and correlate alerts across the stack to resolve incidents ...

April 12, 2021

We're all familiar with the process of QA within the software development cycle. Developers build a product and send it to QA engineers, who test and bless it before pushing it into the world. After release, a different team of SREs with their own toolset then monitor for issues and bugs. Now, a new level of customer expectations for speed and reliability have pushed businesses further toward delivering rapid product iterations and innovations to keep up with customer demands. This leaves little time to run the traditional development process ...

April 08, 2021

On Wednesday January 27, 2021, Microsoft Office 365 experienced an outage affected a number of its services with a prolonged outage affecting Exchange Online. Despite Microsoft indicating that it was just Exchange Online affected during this outage, some monitoring tools detected that Azure Active Directory and dependent services like SharePoint and OneDrive were also affected at the time. The outage information indicated a rollout and rollback but we wouldn't expect to see such a widescale outage and slowdown just affecting some of the schema unless everything had to be taken offline ...

April 07, 2021

Application availability depends on the availability of other elements in a system, for example, network, server, operating system and so on, which support the application. Concentrating solely on the availability of any one block will not produce optimum availability of the application for the end user ...

April 06, 2021

A hybrid work environment will persist after the pandemic recedes, with over 80% stating that they expect over a quarter of workers to remain remote, and over two-thirds desiring flexibility between on-premises and remote deployments according to the 2021 State of the WAN report released by Aryaka ...