How COVID-19 is shifting priorities for tech spend
Research from Plantronics (Poly) and digital research and advisory platform Ecosystm has revealed that data security, videoconferencing and cloud enterprise solutions are the top tech focus for companies in Australia. This saw the APAC region’s highest rate of focus on enabling a remote workforce in the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support remote working, 49% of Australian organisations implemented VPN infrastructure, with 43% introducing collaborative software and 42% making changes to data protection and compliance procedures. Managing larger, disparate fleets of devices has increased helpdesk function by 26%, with 16% of companies hiring more IT staff.
Due to COVID-19, 38% of firms were forced to refocus their digital transformation initiatives, with 34% having to start or accelerate initiatives, while 27% had to put them on hold — higher than the national average of 22%. Andy Hurt, Managing Director ANZ, Poly, said that one of the main areas that Australian businesses struggled with was the scale or capacity of existing IT solutions.
“Not having the relevant IT processes and governance or IT skills were also significant issues. Several large organisations have also announced that working from home will be a common feature, continuing even after the pandemic,” said Hurt.
Businesses have an opportunity to challenge current thinking and shape a new future of work. Hurt said the “next normal” will be all about flexible working across multiple locations, with immersive, productive workspaces that accommodate the work style of every employee. Going forward, the biggest retained change for Australian businesses will be the increased use of digital technologies for process automation (72%), digital technologies for employee experience (61%) and customer experience (55%). Collaboration platforms and tools, new online sales channels and virtual meetings are other enhancements that look set to stay.
The top business priorities for Australian companies going into 2021 include improving customer experience (39%), increasing business agility (38%), and winning and retaining customers (34%). Data security will be a top area of increased IT budget spend, with cloud collaboration, cloud HR and cloud CRM among other areas of increased investment. Spending on video and voice conference is also predicted to increase.
Hurt noted that the face-to-face dynamic of video has proven to be engaging with employees, with the pandemic revealing how effective remote communication and collaboration can be.
“For hybrid working to be successful, remote workers need to be supplied with the right technology and given appropriate support. This means deploying professional-grade conferencing devices, security solutions, collaboration platforms and HR policies that ensure those working remotely don’t end up ‘second tier’. With virtual meetings replacing face to face — something that many organisations predict — audio and video quality become paramount,” said Hurt.
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