96% of IT pros say COVID-19 has changed the way they think

A new report from Yellowbrick examines the impact the coronavirus has had on the technology industry.

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There's no question COVID-19 has impacted the enterprise. Throughout the world, businesses and schools made a quick, dramatic shift to telecommuting and e-learning. Many businesses shuttered, some temporarily, others for good, and jobs were threatened and lost. The businesses that prevailed but were unable to operate, whether it was unable to transition to remote or considered nonessential, invariably incurring financial distress and the dreaded budget cuts.

However, a new report from Yellowbrick, a hybrid cloud data warehouse, found that—contrary to conventional wisdom not all IT budgets were cut. Even with the economic challenges COVID-19 posed for businesses, nearly 38% of enterprises kept their IT budgets unchanged (flat) or actually increased it.

"Conventional wisdom tells us that certain industries will slow their IT investment dramatically during this disruption, but the study and subsequent interviews showed that even hard-hit industries are modernizing their tech," said Jeff Spicer, chief marketing officer for Yellowbrick Data.

"One of our largest retail customers is racing to analyze shopper behavior—they've seen dramatic changes in basket sizes, frequency of shopping trips, and buyer preference—and they're investing more with us," Spicer said.

More than 1,000 enterprise IT managers and executives revealed their infrastructure priorities during this era of economic uncertainty and disruption, and critically, how the pandemic affected them, and 96% of IT professionals say COVID-19 has changed the way they think.

"I expected respondents to tell us that knowing more about their business during a downturn is critical," Spicer said. "What I didn't expect was the magnitude of that response: 90% of respondents said analytics are even more critical now than three months ago. That's huge."
 
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Here's how the IT survey respondents said they have changed:

  • 95.1% believe COVID-19 has made their lives more centered on technology than ever before

  • 63.8% believe we need a better coordinated worldwide response to pandemics

  • 50.3% realize the fragility of human life

  • 47.9% realize how interconnected we are

  • 46.6% realize the fragility of civilization

  • 42.8% believe the world can finally come together to solve a problem

  • 42.7% realize the danger of fake news

  • 4% of IT pros said their way of thinking was unaffected

Spicer said that "the survey starts to get at the fundamentals of digital transformation. During the first wave of digital transformation, businesses moved their information-sharing and analysis online or to the cloud at their own pace."

The pandemic has also facilitated reassessments, "COVID-19 has accelerated what's left of this transformation, and that's what we're seeing in this survey," Spicer added. "IT leaders tell us they're doubling down on investments that will be critical to supporting fully digital businesses with distributed workforces, and they know they need to move quickly."

Moving to the cloud

A portion of the Yellowbrick research focused on how the pandemic accelerated the changes organizations one tabled for "down the line." Recent trends, even during the pandemic, include how quickly companies are moving to the cloud and investing in analytics. 

"More than half of enterprises are accelerating their move to the cloud in light of COVID-19 challenges to their businesses," Spicer said a stand-out of the report was that nearly 55% of enterprises are interested in a hybrid cloud strategy, a combination of cloud and on-premises solutions. 

Some key discoveries found in the research include:

  • 89.1% say their companies will be focused on cost optimization as a result of COVID-19 disruption

  • 84.3% say cloud computing is more important than workplace disruption

    • however, 58.1% say legacy computing is more important during workplace disruption

  • 82% want hybrid or multi-cloud options to spread any risk from their cloud investments

  • 81.8% will pay for more for cloud for increased flexibility

  • 67.2% say they won't trust parts of their business to a single cloud provider

  • 66% are accelerating their migration of analytics to the cloud due to COVID-19

  • 63.9% are investing more in their data platform and analytics due to COVID-19

  • 55.2% say data warehouse modernization is important this year

  • 54.6% describe their cloud strategy as hybrid – some workloads on premise, some in the cloud

  • 51.7% have decreased their IT investments

    • 26.4% have kept it flat 

    • 12% have increased it

  • 50.5% say the benefit of the hybrid cloud enables them to scale faster without compromising sensitive data

  • 43.5% are accelerating their move to the cloud due to COVID-19

The survey was significant for Yellowbrick, but has relevance for technology on the whole. "(It) clearly shows that a cloud-alone strategy is not what most enterprises are looking for—and validates what our customers are telling us about their own best practices combining cloud and on-prem(ises) approaches to their biggest data infrastructure challenges," Spicer said.

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