Due to a turbulent 2020, IT leaders will face unprecedented challenges this year. In addition to laying the technical foundation for a new workplace environment, IT leaders will be confronted with a host of other pandemic-related challenges.

THOUGHT FORECAST: IT leaders will strive to find new ways to implement automation to solve problems and boost efficiency and effectiveness. In this growing, decentralized, global economy, IT leaders will be called upon to implement the greater application of technology throughout the company.

The biggest challenge facing IT leaders this year is the need for change. Across the country and around the globe, companies are continuing to reorganize their workforce, restructure their operations, shift from physical to virtual work environments, and embrace an increasingly global supply chain.

1. Home Network Security

The challenges of remote work are in securing the organization’s data irrespective of where its employees are without making them feel that they are being watched over. In this respect, the cloud-first strategy offers a viable option.

Conventional network infrastructure is traditionally not ready to support the delivery of virtual desktops. In order for IT professionals and their organizations to remain competitive and meet growing business demands, they must leverage their resources to support the proliferation of virtual desktops. This is particularly true in today’s workforce, where employees have become used to working outside the confines of their corporate office.

2. Upskilling Employees

This year, the business priority is moving beyond multiyear digital transformation endeavors to innovation in the digital business model, which focuses on speed, flexibility and agility. At the same time, employees are more aware than ever of their potential roles in the digital economy and have a better understanding of how to leverage technology to improve their lives and the world around them.

Another challenge is training employees on new applications and platforms. In addition, IT professionals must provide a high level of customer service support when each person is individually looking for different information and solutions.

3. Innovation and Digital Transformation

According to Gartner, about two-thirds of business leaders think their organizations have to expedite their digital transformation or face loss of market share to competitors. Digital transformation results in a new way of working.

Companies need to change how they think about technology. Technology is, after all, an enabler of new ways of working and better ways of anticipating the needs of customers and employees. From this perspective, digital transformation is part innovation, part evolution.

4. Re-Examining IT Budgets

This year will bring with it increased scrutiny of the costs of collaboration tools and reconsideration of whether some cloud-based systems should be brought in-house.

Many organizations will look for ways to modernize their legacy systems and processes. Consider the impact on the accounting department, for example. Many companies are worried that they don’t have up-to-date tools to cope with new demands and changing regulations. In a digital world, speed is of the essence to generate revenue and keep customers happy. Accounting needs new tools now in order to keep pace with other departments within an organization that are already leveraging cloud-based platforms for the most part.

5. Increased Emphasis On Data And Cybersecurity

As a huge chunk of business has embraced – at least partially – remote operations, data and cybersecurity assume great significance. This is especially with regard to prioritizing data protection, establishing better protection of physical and digital assets, and improving the visibility into network security.

Another issue for IT leaders in the year ahead will be the impact of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25. GDPR is designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and give people more control over how companies collect and use their personal information, known as personal data or personally identifiable information (PII).

6. Preparing For Regulatory Compliance

Another challenge is compliance with changing regulations. To ensure that the organization is compliant to current regulations, IT leaders will be forced to rethink their cloud strategies and incorporate security into the design and implementation of any new technology.

A key goal of the C-Suite for 2018 and beyond will be to start meeting their GDPR requirements. In addition, the General Data Protection Regulation may not be the last law to take effect this year that affects data privacy. Other regulations around the world that deal with personal information will also have an impact on business and IT leaders.

7. Cloud Adoption Rate

Moving data to the cloud is fast becoming one of today’s hottest topics for businesses. Most organizations believe this is the year they’ll finally take full advantage of cloud technology, according to a recent poll by Zoho Corp, a provider of online business software and services.

8. Blockchain

Although still nascent, blockchain will become more mainstream in 2018. More businesses are beginning to understand and appreciate the benefits of blockchain technology.

However, there are several challenges that must be addressed before blockchain can become mainstream. Chief among them is security: more robust and capable systems must be put in place to protect this type of information if blockchain is going to become an integral part of business operations – particularly for those who handle sensitive customer data and payments.

The use of technology in business has evolved dramatically over the past decade. The digital economy is quickly becoming an integral part of how corporations operate and compete with one another. To remain competitive, IT leaders must address these challenges head-on and integrate emerging technologies into their digital strategies.

Interested in learning more about IT? Healthcare IT Security During the Pandemic discusses IT used in the healthcare industry during the pandemic.

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