As IT budget and strategy planning for 2021 ramps up, many organizations are seeing the long-range impact of changing trends (due to COVID-19) on their IT priorities and tech spends.

How exactly the impact of COVID-19 is influencing IT budgets, and where businesses plan to spend their tech dollars, was the topic of a recent TechRepublic survey.

The survey validated trends we have all seen with our very own eyes; acceleration of movement towards remote work and digital transformation. These changes have forced IT and business leaders to adapt their budgets accordingly.

Here at Jump Start Technology, we are seeing major shifts in priorities and methods of work.  If you are reconsidering your budgeting priorities for the near future, here are a few points to keep in mind:

Remote, remote, remote.

With continued lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders in place, remote work is the only option for continued business operations for many businesses. CIOs and business owners should focus most of their IT budgets on ensuring seamless, yet secure operations remotely. Priority spending should be focused on accessing personal computers (since the supply chains are unstable), and upgrading productivity and collaboration tools as needed.

In addition, security solutions will reign supreme to ensure no malicious attacks take place. Ramping up networking data centers-with a handy disaster recovery plan in place-should also be a high-priority.

Surge in cloud computing

Cloud computing has emerged as a true hero in this pandemic. Businesses of all types have found themselves more reliant on cloud computing than ever before…to support their backend applications and collaboration tools like videoconferencing and VoIP telephone systems. The best part about cloud technology is its ability to scale the computing requirements and respective allocation of workloads. Because of these strong benefits and the trend toward remote work, companies should prioritize their investment in cloud.

Expansion of Mobile Computing & Devices

Many organizations and their employees are spending IT dollars on premium smartphone and tablet devices, as PC replacement rates continue to fall. In fact by 2021 it is projected that the number of smartphone users worldwide will exceed 3.8 billion. And that number is projected to grow to over 80% in three years (Statista). Most cell phones and tablets have the capability of performing many tasks that a computer can. This allows for flexibility and availability, keeping employees and managers from being glued to a computer desk to perform their work. Another investment to consider in mobile computing technology is responsive optimization of your website(s). Without mobile optimization, most websites look and act unwieldy and make it a hassle for potential customers to use, potentially even driving them away from using your services altogether. Your website is the first impression of your business and its optimization is an invaluable and necessary investment.

Advanced Cybersecurity Protection

As reliance on IoT and cloud technologies increases, so will cybersecurity budgets.  Within IT departments, a premium is being placed on security spending. Fifty-three percent of respondents said security will be a top priority in the 2021 budget.  This isn’t terribly surprising after high-profile breaches like the WannaCry, or WannaCrypt, attacks and the Equifax consumer data breach.  A Gartner study predicts that global expenditure on information security will grow to $96 billion in 2021, up from $86 billion last year. So, what should all this money be spent on?   As a small business or organization, you don’t want to lose customer data or let malicious groups take over your systems. Cover all the basics, including safeguarding sensitive business data and minimizing the risk of malware attacks.

Use Outsourcing and Consulting Services When Possible
Outsourcing certain responsibilities of your IT management (or even all of it) can have a positive effect on your budget, time that could be spent managing and maintaining your technology would instead be devoted to managing your business and ensuring its efficient operation. You can enjoy the benefits of being a business owner without worrying about constantly managing your technology, and the costs associated with it.

Is it time to postpone non-essential projects?

With budgets mostly allocated to solutions to keep the company afloat and business continuity, other non-essential projects will have to take a hit. That’s not to say that the projects are no-more; simply that they will be revisited in the near future.

As a small business owner or manager, its critical to remember that your IT expenditures are an investment into the operations and flow of your organization, rather than a cost of doing business. Instead of looking at the budget solely as an administrative process, regard it as a validation and support tool for your IT strategy. If you don’t have a formal or informal IT strategy in place, the budgeting process is as good a place as any to start investigating areas for improvement that will be cornerstones of your first attempts at more strategic IT management.

For more ways to improve the functionality and return on investment of your business’s technology throughout this crisis and beyond, give Jump Start Technology a call.