In the age of IoT, mass mobility and explosive data proliferation, IT leaders are fighting an ongoing battle when looking to digitally transform their organisation
Business technology is constantly evolving, driven by a host of factors which today’s IT leaders need to account for and manage. Assessing the state of play and how best to build an IT infrastructure to contend with it, is therefore becoming an increasingly unenviable challenge.
Alongside the consumerisation of IT devices which is altering employees’ expectations and behaviours, technological advancements such as 5G are improving the potential capabilities of solutions in all fields, while the very real and rising threat of cyber-crime continues to place sensitive business data under greater threat than ever before.
New research from Toshiba shows that there is no one-size fits all approach or solution that can achieve the required results to enable a fully productive and fully secure workforce.
IT spend to rise
The study of more than 1,000 senior IT decision-makers from medium and large organisations, which was conducted in partnership with Walnut Unlimited, found that IT and technology budgets within European businesses will increase this year for more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of organisations.
This rise in IT spend is directly linked to the number of remote workers within businesses, with those companies with higher numbers of mobile workers indicating greater increases in their investment in new solutions and technologies. Businesses in the transport and logistics sector were the most likely to have an increased budget (89 per cent), while just over half (52 per cent) of government and public sector organisations noted that there would be a larger spend on IT and technology.
Data security (62 per cent), cloud-based solutions (58 per cent) and improving the productivity of the business (54 per cent), were cited as the main areas of priority for investment over the next 12 months.
In comparison to similar IT decision maker research conducted by Toshiba back in 2016, data security has increased in terms of importance (54 per cent in 2016), as has investment in cloud-based solutions, with 58 per cent of organisations considering it a top priority today compared to 52 per cent in 2016.
Mobility a pressing priority
Mobility remains a pressing priority. 68 per cent of respondents said they had at least a tenth of their employees work primarily while travelling or in no fixed location. Many organisations are turning to mobile edge computing – an emerging strategy to best achieve a perfect blend of unhindered mobile productivity protected by a robust secure IT infrastructure – to raise remote and field-based workers’ productivity, alleviate pressure on the core IT infrastructure and ensure greater security of the wider IT estate.
This increase in ﬂexible working is a clear driver behind the top three investment priorities. When asked about priorities for improving productivity for this increasingly mobile workforce, almost half indicated that better employee training was critical, with 43 per cent of respondents stating that more innovative use of digital tools was a priority.
Greater level of internal mobility and security
The study also found there is a distinct shift in the solutions IT decision-makers are rolling out across their organisation. At present, 61 per cent of respondents indicated that they provide laptops for their remote teams and 55 per cent offer business-provided smartphones. However, when asked what devices will be used most over the next three years, smartphones caught up with laptops (both at 38 per cent). Businesses also indicated an appetite for newer technologies such as mobile edge computing devices (10 per cent) and thin/zero client solutions (9 per cent).
However, Toshiba points out that mobility is about more than those frontline workers. The pace of technological innovation is also creating opportunities for organisations to consider a greater level of internal mobility and security, and a more virtual approach to addressing the needs of their IT architecture.
Organisations are now looking to the cloud to more securely manage their business-critical data. The rise of mobile zero clients is one such example as is serverless computing, in which cloud providers manage the servers which run the company’s application code.
Such an approach, it says can help lower costs and time constraints on IT departments by reducing the overall estate which needs to be managed.
“While the technologies available to employees are constantly evolving, it’s really interesting to see that the key challenges that IT decision-makers are looking to address have remained relatively constant when compared to opinions in 2016,” said Maki Yamashita, Vice President, B2B PC, Toshiba Europe.
“Organisations are continuing to balance how best to achieve the perfect blend of unhindered mobile productivity, while being protected by a robustly secure IT infrastructure. New solutions coming into the enterprise are helping to achieve this, but IT teams need to focus on the varying challenges and benefits for their individual sectors when determining how best to make these solutions work for their business,” he added.