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IT Priorities 2022: APAC enterprises invest in digital future

Nearly two-thirds of enterprises in Asia-Pacific plan to increase their IT budgets next year in areas such as cloud computing and cyber security to secure their digital future

Asia-Pacific (APAC) enterprises emerging from the throes of the pandemic are leading their peers in the shift to digital-first with investments in key digital transformation initiatives.

According to the 2022 TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT priorities survey, investments in cyber security, cloud and automation are among the broad technology shifts that APAC firms are making to secure their digital future.

Nearly half of more than 1,000 respondents in the APAC region noted that security and risk management have become more important than before, followed by cloud computing (42%). Initiatives in digital workspaces and mobility (39%) and IT automation are also high on the priority list.

These priorities may be seen as a direct response to the challenges that APAC enterprises are facing in helping employees cope with a hybrid work environment and protecting themselves from the onslaught of cyber attacks.

The good news is that a majority of APAC enterprises have already received buy-in from stakeholders to shore up their IT investments in 2022. Nearly two-thirds are increasing their IT budgets while just 6% plan to reduce their technology spend. This is a marked improvement compared to 2021 when just 15% of APAC enterprises planned to spend more on IT.

Many large APAC enterprises are also driving “future of work” initiatives to ready their workforce for the post-pandemic world, investing not only in productivity and collaboration software, but also in tools and cloud platforms to increase business agility.

According to the study, over 40% of the largest organisations in the region with more than 10,000 employees are investing aggressively in future of work initiatives while just 15% of smaller firms are doing so, often due to the lack of digital skills and the high cost of investment.

Underpinning the new investments is cloud computing, which has accelerated by leaps and bounds across the APAC region during the pandemic. While cloud-first used to be the exception, it is now the rule with nearly half of organisations planning to take a cloud-first strategy.

That means investing in building blocks such as DevOps, internet of things, cloud storage, customer experience and business continuity, which are among the top areas cited by respondents as their cloud-first investments.

Cloud storage, in particular, is leading the pack when it comes to cloud-related investments in the region. More than half of APAC respondents plan to move more storage to the cloud, along with cloud data management and protection tools.

This could be due to the dramatic rise in the number of ransomware attacks unleashed on businesses large and small over the past year, driving companies to increase their use of cloud storage as part of a disaster recovery strategy.

But the move to cloud involves more than just the use of public cloud services. More APAC enterprises, from the largest banks to mid-sized retailers, are operating private clouds in on-premise datacentres, which explains why a sizeable proportion (44%) wish to invest in hybrid cloud management tools in 2022.

These include IT automation tools, orchestration tools and even hybrid cloud offerings such as AWS Outposts and Azure Stack Hub that let organisations tap public cloud services at edge locations and branch offices while allowing for data locality.

APAC organisations are also building more cloud-native applications. In 2022, about four in 10 will invest more in microservices and containers, along with associated capabilities such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).

Meanwhile, packaged applications are not going away, particularly those that strike at the heart of the business, such as enterprise resource planning where new investments were put on hold due to the pandemic. Not surprisingly, investments in customer relationship management and e-commerce are set to grow in 2022 as organisations seek new business and customer fulfilment models.

APAC enterprises are not doing it all alone in their digital transformation efforts. For the first time, the number of respondents that plan to use managed services next year grew to an all-time high of 93%. The top three areas where managed services will be procured by APAC firms include cloud migration, cyber security and IT service management.

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