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Security now main driving force behind digital transformation

Organisations are urgently remodelling their core technology stack in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this is pushing security to the top of the agenda

The first weeks and months of the Covid-19 pandemic saw widespread global fear over the virus exploited by cyber criminals for malicious ends. Now, six months on, the relationship between the coronavirus and cyber security is transitioning as IT culture adapts to the new reality of working life.

This is according to a survey of IT leaders conducted between 24 August and 18 September by the organisers of this year’s Digital Transformation Expo (DTX), DTX:NOW, which takes place this week as a virtual event.

The survey found that cyber security has now moved to the top of the list for IT buyers embarking on digital transformation projects, with 26% saying it was their main focus  – followed by cloud (21%), data analytics (15%) and network infrastructure (14%).

“Many businesses have found that areas like cyber security measures, network infrastructure and cloud strategy need urgent adaptation for a distributed workforce,” said James McGough, managing director of DTX organiser Imago Techmedia.

“Some companies might be in a position to consider the likes of AI, blockchain and quantum computing, but the reality for most is that the future-looking, big-ticket tech projects are on the back burner for now. Companies of every size are finding themselves restarting their digital transformation journeys.”

Survey respondents said the biggest challenge in digital transformation projects was also cyber security-adjacent – adapting business cultures quickly to suit new ways of working, following by task automation and processes, and cloud strategy.

The highest barriers to digital transformation projects were cited as changing scope, reduced budgets and changing team structure, all reflecting changing organisational dynamics that the pandemic has intensified.

The data also revealed that digital transformation seems to have become a priority for business of every size, not just major enterprises, corporations and government bodies. The majority of projects, 58%, were expected to cost under £250,000, while just 22% topped £500,000 and 10% £1m. More than one-third of DTX:NOW attendees represent firms with fewer than 50 employees.

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“Covid-19 is a catalyst for digital transformation, but it’s a leveller too,” said McGough. “We’re hearing from IT leaders that there is a shift in which technologies businesses are investing in.

“Ensuring the vast majority of employees could work from home practically overnight has exposed issues with IT strategy, and modernising the core tech stack has become an immediate priority for just about every organisation.”

DTX:NOW replaces this year’s Digital Transformation Expo and “opens” at 10am on Tuesday 29 September. It runs until Thursday 1 October with an understandably Covid-19-related line-up of topics on the agenda, including business resilience and security. No facemasks or social distancing measures are required.

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