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While times may still feel uncertain, one thing isn’t: COVID-19 has changed how businesses operate, especially when it comes to IT.

Prior to COVID-19, many businesses put time and cash into digital transformation. Once the pandemic took hold across the globe, many others began to invest too—and fast. Businesses soon realized the importance of tech tools such as cloud-based collaboration suites and video conferencing.

Yet, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 also resulted in challenges such as the push to cut costs and the overnight need to transform entire companies into remote-based workforces. The result? Business impact that will last for the foreseeable future.

4 ways COVID-19 has impacted businesses in all industries

To better understand the true business impact of COVID-19, TechRepublic Premium conducted surveys with enterprises in various industries. After analyzing the results, we found several similarities.

1. Increase in IT deployment

TechRepublic Premium found that 46% of respondents saw an impact on their IT deployment as a result of COVID-19. IT deployment focused greatly on implementing remote work tools. When asked what services and vendors SMBs tried, tested, or experimented with, they overwhelmingly answered Zoom (60%). Other tools included Microsoft Office 365 (56%) and Adobe (37%).

2. Increase in cloud usage

The results from TechRepublic Premium surveys found that SMBs are still using an array of internal servers, cloud servers, hybrid cloud servers, and SaaS for their IT and business needs. Yet, in 2021, 46% said they rely on on-premise systems, a decrease from last year’s response of 63%.

This isn’t a surprise as businesses must improve access and collaboration for remote-based employees. Survey results also show that 26% of respondents use more than one cloud service, an increase from the 17% reported in 2020.

3. Mindset switch to focus on collaboration

When TechRepublic Premium asked respondents what initiative benefited them the most in 2021, 42% responded with digital capabilities centered around collaboration tools. In 2020, the majority of respondents (68%) focused on implementing remote digital tech that could facilitate collaboration.

4. Decrease in IT spending

After surveying SMB IT departments, TechRepublic Premium expect s2022 to be a year of continued conservative spending for IT. Out of the respondents, 43% said they will tighten their budgets due to COVID-19. Although this is still relatively high, it’s a decrease from last year, when 62% forecasted budget changes.

Where will these businesses spend their cash? Respondents say their focus will be on improving network and internet security, cloud services, digital transformation, and employee training.

IT trends you should have on your radar

What else does the future of business hold? According to Tony Zorc, a successful tech entrepreneur and the author of “Iconoclasm: A Survival Guide In The Post-Pandemic Economy,” there are six post-COVID corporate IT trends that will continue to influence business IT:

  1. Switch from on-premise networks to SaaS: Businesses are switching to solutions that are delivered completely online and managed by the software developer instead of their internal IT team.
  2. Continued search for software value: The tech market is saturated with software and apps. Businesses are still trying to find value in various tools and are actively searching for apps that make the most sense for their teams.
  3. Growth of IT platform usage: Businesses are utilizing IT platforms in an effort to centralize and integrate all of their business apps in the cloud. 
  4. SaaS integration: To reduce manual labor and increase data flow, integration is required to connect disparate apps, software, and solutions. To make it happen, businesses are turning to SaaS.
  5. Increased hidden IT costs: The rise of cloud technology and integration is resulting in the uncovering of hidden IT costs affecting IT budgets.
  6. Rise of the digital and hybrid workplace: Companies are continuing to invest in web-based operations to take advantage of blended (hybrid) work options. Cloud IT is critical for a blended workforce.

Where does the enterprise go from here?

Now, as we enter a post-COVID world, trends and priorities are sure to flex and change. Yet, to continue moving business forward, there are a few things to consider:

  • Migrating to the cloud: Most of us don’t want to think about another global pandemic. Yet, anything is possible. Enterprises should consider preparing for future events by migrating critical business operations to the cloud.
  • Keeping a close eye on your IT spend: While digital transformation is now more important than ever, companies should avoid stretching IT budgets too thin. Choose software or tools that truly make sense for the future of your business.
  • Focusing on employee and customer safety: If you decide to bring some or all of your employees back into the office, you must prioritize their safety and that of your customers. Be sure to follow the guidance set forth by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration.
  • Preparing “return to work” and “vaccination” policies: Have written policies and procedures in place that illustrate return-to-work processes for your employees and representatives. This includes policies regarding vaccination mandates within your business.

Want to dig even deeper into IT trends that may affect your business? Need help creating policies that best protect your employees? These TechRepublic Premium resources can help.

Research: COVID-19 causes SMBs to increase IT deployment and spending

In this survey, TechRepublic Premium spoke to various companies about their digital transformation initiatives, software deployments and tech spends. We asked questions regarding their existing software, factors when selecting technology tools, and more. The insights uncovered in this survey may surprise you.

Research: Digital transformation initiatives focus on collaboration

In this survey, TechRepublic Premium spoke with 110 SMB decision-makers about their digital transformation projects, challenges, and budgets. We found that businesses are shifting their IT initiatives to focus on collaboration. Our research uncovers answers to questions such as “How has COVID-19 affected your digital transformation priorities?” and more.

2022 IT Budget Research Report: COVID-19 prompts organizations to tighten budgets

How are businesses planning to use their 2022 tech dollars? After surveying 122 SMB decision-makers, we believe spending will be conservative. What impact is COVID-19 continuing to have on spending? What technology do SMBs plan to invest in? Find answers to these questions and more inside this report.

Post COVID-19 Return to Work Policy

To keep your employees safe and business moving forward, you need a written return to work policy tailored to fit your organization. This sample policy will help you define your return to work process, so your team can understand and follow the correct procedures and safety protocols.

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

COVID-19 vaccines are working to ease the impact of the pandemic and paving the way for businesses to allow employees to return to work. Before you move forward, you must develop a vaccination policy to communicate requirements to your team. This sample policy can be customized to fit your business needs.

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Save time with the latest TechRepublic Premium downloads, including customizable IT & HR policy templates, glossaries, hiring kits, features, event coverage, and more. Exclusively for you! Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays.