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IT Agendas: Out With the Old, In With the New

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Image: Feodora -
The COVID-19 storm has wreaked havoc for all, including enterprise IT, which has seen projects and spending plans upended, as Robin Gareiss, president and founder of Nemertes Research, shared during her Enterprise Connect Digital Conference and Expo session, “Priority Overhaul: How the Pandemic Changed IT Spending and Plans,” (available on demand) based on recent survey findings.
To understand the impact of COVID-19, Nemertes gathered data on IT budgets, work-from-home (WFH) status within the business and contact center, and WFH technologies from 528 large enterprises —respondent organizations have a mean of 6,819 employees and $3.9 billion in annual revenue — representing 38 vertical industries across 12 countries, Gareiss said. Based on its analysis, Nemertes identified 62 respondent organizations as fitting its success group for video and collaboration applications, based on cost savings, revenue, and productivity measures. Companies were placed into a “Success Group” which means they — on average — had saved $240,000 annually with the use of these technologies, gained almost $400,000 in revenue, and saw almost a 24% improvement in employee productivity, she said.
Nemertes pre-COVID data showed that 62% of companies were planning to increase IT spending from 2020 into 2021. In late May, that number decreased to 53% — and those companies indicated the spending increase would be around WFH technologies, Gareiss reported. Even at those companies with decreasing IT budgets, 19% reported that they planned increased spending on WFH technologies (see graphic, below). “WFH is huge right now and this is an area in which people are focusing,” she said.
Home support is one area of spending, for example. To facilitate WFH, organizations have begun beefing up home support, Gareiss said. Some of the areas they’re helping with are providing home Wi-Fi assessment, video quality monitoring, voice quality monitoring, ISP plan selection, and lighting guidance, Gareiss said. “We also see companies doing a lot in their WAN/LAN environment to support video growth and increasing bandwidth.”

Image: Robin Gareiss
WFH Acceleration
Prior to COVID-19, Nemertes data showed that 63% of organizations supported WFH, with 24% of employees and 59% of agents having the ability to work remotely, Gareiss said. Now 91% support WFH, with 72% of employees and 75% of contact center agents working from home. As companies transitioned their workforces to WFH, managing employees was one of the biggest challenges they faced, she added. Additional obstacles included security, Internet performance, network infrastructure, delivering equipment to people, enabling application access, video quality, and training, Gareiss noted. None of these challenges were big enough for companies to say, “Oh forget it, I won’t keep working from home anymore,” she said.
Looking ahead, 70% of companies said they will continue with WFH strategies, and their focus now is on how to maximize that approach for employees, customers, and the bottom line, Gareiss said.
Only 8.2% of organizations indicated they won’t continue to support WFH as-is because their employees are more productive in the office, Gareiss said. Fourteen percent are unsure about the return-to-the-office decision, 36% said they will be bringing employees back into the office, and 42% said they probably would do so. Besides productivity, employee preference, ease of collaboration, and ability to deliver better customer service are cited reasons for returning to the office. On the flip side, a significant number of respondents said that WFH will improve quality of life, ensure preparedness for future disasters, is better for the environment, and will reduce employee turnover rates, she reported.
As Nemertes data showed, a lot of companies thought they were prepared for a disaster, but clearly that they weren’t, Gareiss said. Now, hopefully, when — not if — the next disaster comes, lessons learned during this crisis will have them well prepared.