In the face of adversity, companies have pivoted to ‘work from home’ arrangements, creating a seismic shift in adoption of the cloud. Organizations have had no choice but to get their ageing on-prem tech to play ball with the modern world. Of course, this is great news for the CSPs out there! The shift in focus has stimulated demand for more managed cloud services, that were perhaps 'nice to haves’ prior to the global pandemic.
Migrating businesses to the Microsoft cloud is not a new operation by any means. But 2020 has seen an impressive increase in companies quickly evolving and adopting cloud-based technologies to underpin their business operations.
So, what are the trends we predict from 2021 and beyond? Let’s dive in…
March 2020 saw Microsoft Teams usage grow to 44 million daily active users1. April saw it jump another 70%. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella revealed Teams usage increased to more than 27 million daily active users1...and that was eight months ago.
Nadella also revealed Microsoft Teams saw 200 million meeting participants on a single day1, (April,) and Zoom, 300 meeting participants1.
The pandemic pushed companies to quickly assess what tools were in place to support EX, (employee experience.) An easy to use, secure, virtual communication stream became an essential part of everyday business. Out of necessity, 2021 will see a continued growth of programs and tools, like Teams and Zoom, to help connect people across the world, and support with virtual events. HR teams will get better access to tools to help them analyze workforce data, and understand team productivity.
Short-term adjustments are giving way to long term changes, so CSPs should offer services to support the growth in connection tools.
With companies rapidly migrating customers to the cloud due to the global pandemic, many cloud migrations were done in record-breaking time. It’s safe to say, though, that new customer cloud environments will need improving to bring up standards. ‘Quick and dirty’ migration efforts have created challenges for organizations in 2020. Research shows 71% of organizations reported "negative effects due to the rate of cloud transformation”2
It’s a no brainer…anything that grows at a dramatic pace will experience hurdles along the way. But the rapid acceleration of cloud adoption means 2021 could bring CSPs a larger share of customer cloud environments to manage.
With 70% of survey respondents aiming to accelerate their cloud deployments2, the growing customer cloud complexity could give CSPs a wider business opportunity in 2021. Microsoft will also be expanding the opportunities for those in the CSP Partner Program. Another big hint that cloud adoption is booming.
So next year brings a bigger opportunity to further refine cloud deployments and create new CSP offerings. All of which can’t be accomplished without some appreciation for the next growth area...
Cyber-attacks and threats are becoming more and more sophisticated. 2020 gave rise to several high-profile hacks, which left many companies in sticky situations. Take for example the widely discussed Garmin Ransomware Hacking earlier this year. Many customers were left with improperly functioning devices, while management were left with the burden of negotiating their way back into the control seat of their technology. More recently, we've came to learn about Solarwind’s RMM software security compromise, impacting it’s long-term Orion infrastructure management platform. These are only a couple of real-life examples that make cybersecurity centre-stage in 2021.
There are many ways cybersecurity can be managed. As Gartner noted, "Many assets now exist outside of the traditional security perimeter." They go into discussion around a ‘cybersecurity mesh.’ This mesh ‘essentially allows for the security perimeter to be defined around the identity of a person or thing. It enables a more modular, responsive security approach by centralizing policy orchestration and distributing policy enforcements.’
With this change, the role of security, IAM and authentication tools becomes increasingly popular, since many employees are no longer working from within office networks.
The security discussion between CSPs and customers should be at the forefront of the conversation, making sure security measures are in tip-top shape, and customer data isn’t compromised.
On the subject of cybersecurity, developments around AI and machine learning could accelerate to ‘out smart’ attackers. No longer a ‘nice to have’, these solutions should mature and be embedded into everyday applications.
Forbes spoke to leading Cybersecurity experts to discover how they think AI can improve cybersecurity in 2021. All provided great insights and came to a similar consensus. In the coming year, we will see more use of AI, as many people have shifted to remote office and online services - key areas where attackers search for and find vulnerabilities.
AI and machine learning are already embedded into some day-to-day products. Take Arlo Smart as an example. AI-powered detection can be added to security cameras. Intelligent algorithms and advanced analytics offers Arlo Smart users even more personalized, meaningful notifications to highlight any person, Vehicle, animal and Package Detection.
CSP can harness these types of modern technologies – and their underlying tech, through cloud platforms - to help companies improve their service offerings. AI can also be a key tool in the fight against cyber attackers, so keep a close eye on its developments during 2021.
The mother of automation. Think big.
To help businesses accelerate in their field, they need to rely on technologies that support with efficiency, speed and agility. Hyperautomation uses advanced technologies, such as AI, ML and RPA, to automate manual work. Despite API-based integration leading automation trends in recent years, not all problems can be solved through integration. For example, legacy ERP systems are often better automated through RPA solutions and unattended robotized processes, rather than complex integrations with insurmountable security hurdles.
Going one step further than automation, hyperautomation targets everything within an organization, allowing multiple systems and processes to be automated.
Hyperautomation relies on multiple automation technologies integrated together, to provide a fusion of results. CSPs can adopt newer and more advanced automation tools to enable them to transform even the most ancient of customer workloads.
Hyperautomation tools like RPA are really taking off. Microsoft's Power Automate opens up doors to simplify a user’s digital experience by automating most of the Microsoft ecosystem. Boosted profitability, productivity, intelligent workflows and secure automation practices - much can be gained by adopting hyperautomation solutions.
Some food for thought to take you into 2021…
The Total Economic Impact™ of Power Automate, conducted by Forrester Consulting highlighted these impressive stats.
Businesses using the Microsoft software saw:
Faster connectivity inevitably leads to richer digital experiences for customers. With the pixel count increasing by the year, 4K+ streaming and Augmented/VR solutions are challenging to deliver at current bandwidths. Increasing the pipe, along with super-sharp latencies open new possibilities to deliver faster, more immersive and responsive customer solutions. Think Azure edge computing and AWS Wavelength. Customers will come demanding more innovative solutions that harness these technologies in coming years. Do you want to be a CSP leading the pack? Well, we suggest speaking with customers who have big ideas and help to make them happen!
5G also brings innumerable benefits for the IoT world. Lower latency and more connections means more effective and responsive sensors and connected devices.
CSPs can use underlying tech offered by Azure or other cloud providers to deliver more impactful 5G-enabled solutions. Tied in with the above, you can expect VR and AR applications to have greater uptake and adoption in the coming years. Especially as mobile devices grow increasingly powerful and bandwidths more permitting.
And last but not least…..
A practical one here. More than ever, businesses will look to CSPs for their technical and innovative capabilities. It’s a great time to look at new market trends and strengthen agility.
2021 is the right time to invest in developing solutions that better address modern customer requirements. Having a diverse mix of team expertise, software and processes, this will allow CSPs to pay close attention to all customer needs.
Your CSP value will grow if you can manage requests quickly and effectively.
A strange year has bought many positive outcomes for the CSP and managed service industry. The market has seen an incredible growth spurt, with customer requirements evolving at a rapid pace. These predictions only touch the surface of how the industry will develop. With 2021 only a stones-throw away, we’re looking forward to what it brings.
1. The Verge
2. Aptum Technologies