What a difference a year can make. The current lens through which enterprise IT leaders are considering IT budgets is very different than how they were thinking this time last year. That’s because the past nine months have driven an incredible depth and breadth of some changes very quickly. Meanwhile, other industry and technology trends have continued at their previous steady pace. This can make for a confusing forecasting environment. How do you plan your 2021 IT department budget when everything seems…unpredictable?
Enterprises must now balance and accommodate the sudden changes with the planned ones. Businesses have been working toward certain goals for years — digital transformation, for example — and don’t want to slow or pause that progress. At the same time, there are some new realities to account for when assessing your IT department budget.
Remote Work, of Course
The global spread of COVID-19 forced businesses to rethink their organizational structures. Millions of people became remote workers — in some cases overnight. For many companies, this was the first time where entire teams had to collaborate, operate and communicate virtually.
There’s plenty to tout when it comes to remote work. This includes flexibility in hiring across a wide geographical area, reduced overhead, and more productive employees.
But remote work can also create challenges. Many enterprises are still trying to figure out what works best for their employees on a personal level. They also have to balance what is the safest and most cost-effective way to approach an uncertain year.
This makes it more critical than ever for IT departments to get a handle on their current assets, how they are being used, and what they are costing. (Think about it: If you aren’t sure of the present, it’s hard to plan for the future.)
When considering your IT department budget, more mobile technology may be the name of the game over the next year. Mobile devices give people the flexibility to work from anywhere. In turn, this gives an enterprise flexibility when planning where those people will be working next year.
The As-a-Service Boom
Directly related to the shift to remote work, cloud and as-a-service apps are perfect matches for mobile devices in terms of flexibility.
Enterprises that had invested in moving business-critical apps to the cloud were much better prepared for the events of early 2020 than those still in data center or server environments. Those who hadn’t invested before this year have seen the light: Gartner expects the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 6.3% in 2020, to $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019.
Like remote work, cloud computing services offer a lot of pros — mobility of data, easier resource and file sharing, scalability — but some cons.
In theory, cloud models create the opportunity for cost savings. But, that’s only if (and it’s a big if) an enterprise only pays for the services and capacity it needs. It’s all too easy for cloud spending to burgeon out of control. This has always been true, but the COVID-19 crisis made things measurably worse.
Cloud expense management tools like Tangoe’s are a key resource for planning your IT department budget. CEM solutions help track what a business is spending. It shows where the fat can be trimmed, and keep things under control through features like automated alerts and consolidation.
The data a CEM solution provides also will help identify underutilized resources. All of this ultimately reduces waste and eliminates overspending.
A Combination of Crises: COVID-19 and Phishing
Deloitte noted in March that one (possibly unexpected) result of the pandemic was a spike in phishing attacks, including malspams and ransomware attacks. Bad actors “[used]COVID-19 as bait to impersonate brands, thereby misleading employees and customers.”
What’s more, some remote employees use VPNs to connect to company networks, adding cybersecurity risks. If organizations haven’t configured their protocols properly, they open the door to data leaks and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks to devices.
Even enterprises using the cloud aren’t immune to issues. A recent IDG survey found 98% of businesses surveyed said securing applications, data and infrastructure in the cloud is “very” or “somewhat” challenging. Almost all organizations IDG surveyed (95%) feel that their current security infrastructure hinders their ability to protect data as it moves to and from the cloud.
The cybersecurity threats will never go away, and IT environments are getting more complex. IT leaders must perform a thorough evaluation of their IT environment and cybersecurity strategies. Then, invest in new technologies, if needed, to protect customer and business data.
There’s no denying it’s going to be challenging to plan for an unknowable future following an unusual year. But technology expense management solutions like Tangoe’s can help enterprises to gain control and maximize your IT department budget. These solutions show ways to reduce costs and find money in a budget, allowing enterprises to invest in mission-critical needs like remote work-friendly technology, new cloud apps, and cybersecurity.
If you’re looking to make the most of your 2021 IT spend and optimize your budget, Tangoe is here to help. Learn how our solutions can save you money and lower your costs.