Cisco’s new Accelerating Digital Agility Research, has revealed that CIOs and IT decision makers (ITDMs) are looking to maximise investments and drive innovation after a difficult year which raised the profile of IT leaders.
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 organisations from a growing list of expanding security threats.
To set up their organisations for success in 2021 and beyond, Cisco said that IT leaders have adapted priorities and strategy to focus on core issues including delivering secure collaboration tools to keep distributed workforces productive, maximising 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 organisations in 2021,” said Cisco’s Chief Strategy Officer and GM, Applications, Liz Centoni. “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.”
Cisco found that 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.
IT teams must create optimised end-user experiences to keep pace with IT environments that have become increasingly distributed, dynamic, and complex. To deliver a great user experience, 89% think it is important to ensure a consistent application performance across both the application and infrastructure. 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.
The need for agility, speed, scalability and security is driving adoption of hybrid cloud environments and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solutions.
Cisco also said that 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%).
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 organisations achieve operational consistency.
“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”, Cisco explained.
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.