ALISON BROOKER (AB): Businesses were tasked with navigating a new normal in 2021, as hybrid work became the preferred standard, and cloud adoption skyrocketed, but this is only the beginning. Working environments will continue to evolve in 2022 and new factors will affect how companies operate.
I'm your guest host, Alison Brooker and this is IT Availability Now, the show that tells stories of business resilience from the people that keep the digital world available.
We sat down with a few experts to get their opinions on what IT trends and new threats are going to impact businesses the most in the year ahead. Throughout today's show, we'll be sharing their thoughts on what organizations need to look out for.
First up is Tom Holloway, Principal Business Resilience Consultant at Sungard AS, who discusses how the growing levels of digital interaction will impact businesses.
TOM HOLLOWAY (TM): We've seen over the last two years that the pandemic has really acted as an accelerant for change in the technology sector. We've seen an increased incidence of hybrid working with staff working in the home environment. We've seen increased use of digital platforms because people can't get out to the shops and conduct business in the usual ways. With this comes increased complexity. And of course, the background to this is a serious increase in the incidence of cyber attacks, especially ransomware.
Now this rate of change fueled by the exchange of data is a complex environment. And the complexity will not be covered off by old school Word and Excel document-based business continuity plans. You will need dynamic software to help you keep up with complexity and the rate of change. But also given the importance of protecting your digital data, we see a real emphasis being put on IT disaster recovery plans, because IT disaster recovery needs to be designed from the outset and not just added on as an afterthought, as it often is.
Now, none of this happens without executive engagement and over the last two years, we've seen a considerable increase in the percentage of executives that really have gripped the resilience file during the pandemic. Now what we’d hope is that they remain engaged through this period and beyond. However, they do need to be helped, helped to understand the language of technology. What are the options being presented to them that they will have to consider, resource and enact? And so I think it's encumbent on the technologists to provide that education to the executives to help them understand what's going on.
And my final point relates to returning to the office. Many think that we'll be hybrid forever. Now that genie’s out of the bottle so to speak, I think the hybrid will play a very strong solution but I view it very much like rationing. That yes, you can live on rationing and after World War II, the British population continued with it for many years but we all much prefer to go to restaurants. And I think in the same light, returning to the office, getting those genuine human interactions with people unexpected and unscheduled, will lead to increased productivity, creativity and ultimately business vibrancy and that's what we're all interested in.
(AB): Next, we spoke to Chris Butler, Lead Principal Consultant of Resilience and Security at Sungard AS, about the impact of climate change.
CHRIS BUTLER (CB): So when we look at climate change, let's start off by stating a reality, which is that business continuity and disaster recovery planning is evolving and has to evolve in the face of climate change. The highest likelihood risks of the next 10 years are climate-related. So they would include extreme weather, climate action failure and human led environmental damage. This all according to the World Economic Forum, which can be found in their Global Risks Report of 2021.
Environmental risks feature in the short term, the medium term, and indeed the long term timeframes. In the long term, we can see the risk of significant competition for natural resources. Businesses face the potential for an increasing number of natural disasters from climate change, such as regional flooding, and storms that might cause city-wide power outages and such events certainly feel like they're happening more often. And to what extent are businesses now prepared for these challenges?
Well, it's an interesting question because companies in some locations will need to plan for types of climate disasters that they have not had to consider before. So countries certainly are seeing more extreme flooding, higher levels of snowfall and storms. And in the UK, we've seen a recent 10 day power outage in the north of England, which has affected thousands of householders. So extreme weather events will continue to put pressure on commuters and in offices. And the question for businesses is what they do about this. Do they or should they upgrade their existing infrastructure, at potentially considerable cost? Or should they fully embrace the remote working opportunities and spend all their money on IT security and infrastructure to get their staff working from home?
However, imagine if your staff lived in the North of England, as I just mentioned, and had 10 days with a power outage. How resilient does that make you feel now? So, if companies choose to go completely remote and work from home, this needs to also be factored into their disaster recovery plans. Because homeworking really isn’t as secure or resilient as being in a traditional well-found office. You've got to consider a whole raft of network failures, decreased IT support and security for those who work from home.
(AB): Disruptions to the global supply chain are putting organizations in a bind. Servaas Verbiest, Lead Cloud Evangelist at Sungard AS, had a lot to say on the matter.
SERVAAS VERBIEST (SV): So, the production of silicon chips was impacted at the start of the pandemic, which caused a significant shortage. And that's forcing many companies to really re-examine and rethink their information technology models. Many are looking at the cloud as an alternative to buying servers in order to be able to rapidly deploy infrastructure versus waiting for supply chain to level out and accessibility for hardware to be better.
You know, as companies start to look to migrate to the cloud, they're going to need to consider what services they need to deliver on the expectations they have for their internal and external customers. And most importantly, what they can do to effectively and efficiently run their business because, while there's an opportunity for the consumption of a vast amount of services and a large amount of infrastructure, there's also an opportunity for performance issues and a vast amount of spend if left unchecked and governed.
(AB): COVID-19 accelerated cloud adoption but as Leon Godwin, Principal Cloud Evangelist at Sungard AS, points out, the growing skills gap could complicate things for businesses.
LEON GODWIN (LG): As cloud specialists, we witnessed a number of things within the industry. And one of the things that's coming out loud and clear at the moment is that a lot of organizations are lacking the mature cloud skill sets to deliver the best outcomes. And in many ways they're procuring cloud as they did with legacy technology and sort of on-premise infrastructure. Examples of that are, in the last couple of weeks, I've worked with two organizations that are spending around the £100,000 per month mark on cloud and having gone through and done an assessment with them we were able to we reprofile their spend, delivering the same, in fact better outcomes and reducing that spend to about 30,000. And that's a recurring theme that's coming up because they lack the depth of skills.
Now one of the reasons there's a shortfall in skills even before the pandemic, there was a shortfall in supply and demand. When there's a shortfall between supply and demand, it's Economics 101, salaries will go up. And then with the pandemic delaying and slowing up or stopping a lot of projects, and now we're, hopefully, touch wood, coming out to the pandemic, we can see a lot of those projects starting up again, which is reinforcing that demand. And we can actually see that translate. If you go to the IT Jobs Watch website (.co.uk or .com depending if you're UK or North America), you can go and do a search for job roles and see the trends and salaries. And what you can see is in the UK that AWS architectural roles have gone up 52% in the last six months, contractor salaries have gone up by over 20% broadly across the cloud arena. And the drivers for this are these new projects that got stalled because of the pandemic, 2008 end of life, next year 2012 is going end of life and all these things are creating demand.
And organizations don't necessarily have access to skills. In fact, they might be losing their workforce, their cloud workforce because retention is a challenge when staff can go and leave for a 50% pay rise.
So what organizations are doing more and more is now adopting managed services from cloud service providers, whether it be change for migration or individual project change or that broader end to end managed service throughout the life because managed service providers have that depth of resource and customers can just focus their IT on focusing on their core business, and let managed service providers deal with the recruitment, training, retention and delivering high quality outcomes.
(AB): And lastly, we spoke to Charles Iannuzzelli, Head of Sungard AS North America Consulting Practice, about a subject that's currently top of mind for businesses around the world: cybersecurity.
CHARLES IANNUZZELLI (CI): Well, in the market right now what we're seeing is a real strong focus around businesses re-evaluating their disaster recovery programs, especially as it relates to cyber vulnerabilities and cyber-related ransomware events. Folks are really looking to modernize the way in which they address their resilience, especially around cyber resilience right now. It is truly a board level concern and executive level concern and a lot of investments are being made in stronger data protection and backup policies and procedures so that a customer could recover from a cyber related attack, especially in the ransomware space.
What we're seeing is a true modernization of disaster recovery programs. A focus not only on things like natural disasters and things that are happening in the market like wildfires and tornadoes, but all around, you know, concerns around data being compromised and concerns around the organization's not having the ability to respond and recover from a cyber related attack. And what that's really driving is this whole concept around kind of a compounding threat landscape. So it's not just about recovering from natural disasters anymore or technology failure, it's really being able to recover from an intentional attack against an organization in the cyberspace. And that's really causing executive teams and board level folks to really be uncomfortable with the unpredictability of being able to recover from an event such as a cyber attack.
(AB): As companies continue to evaluate and adjust their business models in the coming year, they’ll need to consider how new trends in 2022 will play out. Climate change, cloud skills, the global chip shortage and more will all play major factors, and businesses must be prepared for any impacts that may impede resiliency.
You can find the show notes for this episode at SungardAS.com/ITAvailabilityNow.
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IT Availability Now is a production of Sungard Availability Services.
I’m your guest host, Alison Brooker, and until next time, stay available.