Most IT organizations stepped into 2020 expecting business as usual. By year’s end, they had emerged as the true corporate heroes of the pandemic. In short order, CIOs and CISOs sprang into action to enable remote workforces, secure their networks, and ensure business continuity.
Their unprecedented efforts ushered in an era of innovation across people, processes, and technology. Among the most seismic shifts: an accelerated migration to cloud computing and digital transformation. As a result, their enterprises emerged in 2021 with a competitive advantage, proving that IT is one of a company’s most valuable organizations.
Of course, challenges, successes, and priorities differed, especially across different industries. A recent survey of IT decision-makers at 500 companies in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, conducted by global consultancy PSB, found a link between pre-pandemic readiness and cloud adoption. Namely, 45% of companies that already had more than half their staff remote said they were well ahead of others in adopting new technologies. Only 25% with less than half their staff working remotely felt they were ahead of others.
The survey, which queried IT leaders in financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, reveals a wide range of digital maturity, security models, and investment priorities. Below are some of the key takeaways from IT leaders in those four industries.
Cloud adoption by industry
The dash to the cloud paid off for all the companies surveyed—which makes sense because cloud computing is ready-made for remote employees who need to access applications from anywhere. The majority of respondents said their migration had made them more competitive.
Not surprisingly, finance, with its storied investment in security, logged the highest percentage (92%) of organizations that rated themselves ahead or well ahead of competitors in adopting new technologies. Manufacturing followed at 80%. Many companies are keen to adopt new technologies and are confident in their ability to do so.
Prior to the pandemic, the majority of finance companies were either somewhat or very confident they could secure remote employees. They certainly had to prove it. Today, more than half have significantly more remote workers than they once did.
Of course, that brings security challenges. As a result, nearly two-thirds are adopting threat detection sooner than expected. And nearly half are investing in asset discovery sooner than planned.
Healthcare faced its own set of challenges—and unprecedented growth—as the pandemic stretched throughout the year. Understandably, the demand for telehealth grew as patients, unable to safely visit doctors’ offices in person, consulted healthcare professionals remotely.
The industry’s IT organizations naturally focused on protecting patient data. More than half now say they are investing in threat detection earlier than expected. Nearly half have accelerated their adoption of a zero-trust security model, which treats every user and device trying to connect to a network as untrusted until verified. Their investment is ahead of the other industries, where only 38% overall are spending money on zero trust, according to the survey.
The pandemic took a devastating toll on brick-and-mortar retail as stores shuttered and shoppers stayed home. But IT organizations stepped up to help retailers pivot to online shopping and remote work, both of which helped keep many up and running.
Once again, security became a top concern. Recognizing that endpoint vulnerabilities could lead attackers straight to their customers’ personal and financial data on e-commerce platforms, 58% of IT decision-makers in retail said they are ramping up investment in anti-malware tools.
That’s on par with industries across the spectrum. In addition, the bulk of those surveyed in all four industries say they are well positioned to take on competition in the future, with 78% calling themselves ahead or well ahead of others in their field.
Considering that manufacturing seems to require workers on-site, the number of workers that went remote in the sector is startling. A majority of manufacturers reported significantly more of their employees working from home.
That migration prompted IT in more than half of the manufacturers surveyed to accelerate investment in threat detection. And, in what might be an effort to boost operational agility, 70% are increasing their investment in cloud computing.