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Microsoft wins on public cloud trust

IT spending set to grow in 2021, with many organisations buying more public cloud services. Security and trust are top buying criteria

IT budgets are set to increase in 2021, a new survey from CCS Insight has reported. Two-thirds of the 730 senior executives who participated in the survey said they expect to increase IT budgets in 2021, despite a recession.

CCS Insight’s survey found that cloud computing and remote collaboration were the main technology beneficiaries during the health crisis, with both remaining priority investment areas for the coming year.

Given the pandemic’s impact on businesses, budgets and the use of technology, the survey found that businesses expect to continue their investments in cloud computing and remote collaboration as they have done during the health crisis. As organisations shift their strategic focus, CCS Insight said it expects security will be the biggest beneficiary in 2021.

“Cloud security in particular is now top of mind for most decision-makers, and security is also flagged as a priority in collaboration tools, investments in AI [artificial intelligence] and factors that determine trust in technology suppliers,” CCS Insight said.

The survey found senior leaders view Microsoft Azure as the primary public cloud platform, despite Amazon’s lead in IT workload volume. Although most businesses are embracing a multicloud strategy, the senior executives surveyed put Microsoft Azure as the most-used and trusted public cloud, ahead of IBM, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services.

Discussing cloud security and trust, Nick McQuire, senior vice-president of Enterprise Research at CCS Insight, said that Microsoft tends to come out stronger as a trusted partner for senior executives, while developers prefer the likes of AWS.

“Microsoft has built Azure as a trusted cloud, and has made strong inroads with the senior executive community,” he said. While public cloud providers offer comparable resilience and technology for security, he said Microsoft was rated highly in terms of its roadmap, openness and its position on handling customer data.

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CCS Insight also reported that the use of artificial intelligence is growing in business. It said many organisations deployed AI in areas such as chatbots, contact centre assistance and demand forecasting. Over 80% of survey respondents are now trialling the technology or have put it into production, a 25% increase compared with CCS Insight’s 2019 survey.

CCS Insight also reported that 58% of those surveyed plan to increase their investment in AI. As more companies become operationally dependent on AI technology, CCS Insight said it expects they will encounter new challenges associated with the risks of AI. The survey found that security is now the biggest challenge organisations face with AI. More than 80% of respondents said they are concerned about ethical risks stemming from the uses of AI.

Looking at the shift to remote working, the survey reported that 34% of senior leaders expect more than half their workforce to work mainly from home post-Covid-19. This compares with just 15% prior to the pandemic. According to CCS Insight, the shift to remote working has also meant that collaboration technology has become mission critical. The survey found that Microsoft Teams dominates the market, with 46% of the executives surveyed saying their organisations had deployed Teams.

Angela Ashenden, principal analyst for workplace transformation at CCS Insight, said: “Clearly the shift to remote working has dramatically influenced businesses’ perspectives on the way we work in the long-term, and this is affecting the importance they place on tools to enable collaboration between remote workers.

“As offices start to reopen, organisations are now exploring the implications of a hybrid working model in which remote working remains the norm, but some staff return to the office. This will be a major focus area in the coming months.”

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