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Nearly three-quarters (73%) of IT decision makers in the US and UK are relying on data more to make business decisions, and 33% believe the value of data has permanently increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly released survey by Druva.

There have been few organizational priorities of greater importance than business resilience in 2020. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic that completely upended carefully thought out annual plans and initiatives, COVID-19 has forced organizations to reevaluate priorities and focus resources on solutions that empower their organization today.

Cloud migration initiatives have been key activities with multiyear deployment plans, but in 2020 it catapulted to the top of the list as IT leaders and executives sought to shift business models overnight, enable a remote workforce, and maintain a high level of productivity without sacrificing security, Druva said.

Yet, a cloud migration is only as successful as a company’s ability to offload data from traditional data centers, and leverage the cloud’s ability to scale on demand for changing workload needs, the company warned.

“Breaking down data silos and strategically moving workloads to the cloud allows companies to realize the benefits of a cloud-based model and lay the foundation for future migrations. Data protection is an ideal workload for the cloud, given its infrequent, yet high resource demands. For workloads such as these, which do not need to run 24/7, customers can dramatically lower costs and consolidate various processes.”

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Since the pandemic began, digital transformation plans have accelerated between one and five years, according to 68% of respondents.

The survey of 700 IT decision makers also found that COVID-19 is increasing concerns around data protection, with 73% of respondents saying they are more concerned now with protecting their organizational data from ransomware than they were before the pandemic, Druva said.

The No. 1 role of data for business impact is optimizing customer experiences, the survey found. Seventy percent of respondents said they are confident in their ability to maximize the value of data. However, 41% said the data they collect is not readily available or accessible when needed for decision making.

Further, understanding the risks of business operation without access to data, 79% of respondents said they see data management and protection as a competitive business advantage.

“The rapid move to remote work has permanently changed the way businesses operate, accelerated digital transformation and increased the value of data as a business asset,” said Jaspreet Singh, founder and CEO of Druva, in a statement. Singh added that more and more companies are realizing that “business resilience is data resilience.”

Other survey findings include:

Adding to the pressure of this year, internal and external threats are on the rise. Respondents reported an increase in data disruptions (43%), human error tampering data (40%), phishing attacks (28%), malware attacks (25%), and ransomware attacks (18%), since the pandemic began.

Digital transformation plans are on steroids. Eighty-two percent of respondents have seen value from initial digital transformation efforts but said they “still have a ways to go.” Access to data is now the No. 2 obstacle to implementing digital transformation successfully, after budget/finances.

Optimizing customer experiences remains the No.1 priority for data. Nearly half (47%) of respondents said their organization can only go up to four hours without access to data before causing serious harm to their business.