International Data Corporation (IDC) this month announced its IT outlook for 2021, including top trends and guidance for enterprises as they prepare for "The Next Normal" in future information and communications technology (ICT) enterprise spending.
IDC says its recent data shows that actual market performance has been stronger than suggested by survey and market indicators, especially in the U.S., due largely to cloud and remote work support. Overall ICT spending is expected to have a 5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2024, says the firm
The analyst finds that service provider investments to meet demand for cloud and digital services are stable compared to other sectors, and that the push for remote work/learning has driven stronger PC volume and a greater focus on security for the year.
"In terms of total IT spending, we are seeing a more shallow V-shaped drop this year. Total IT spending will drop to about 1% growth this year, but this is far stronger than the 3% decline that was expected earlier in the year," comments IDC president Crawford Del Prete.
In a recent IDC survey, 42% of technology decision makers indicated that their organizations plan to invest in technology to close the digital transformation gap.
"The pandemic created a business necessity for increasing technology investment and accelerating digital transformation timetables," says Meredith Whalen, chief research officer at IDC. "What we are learning is that many of these initiatives that started as ways to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 have become permanent roadmap requirements for future enterprise success in the digital economy."
IDC's outlook for the future enterprise identifies three overarching initiatives that directly link technology investment to digital transformation efforts, including: creating digital parity across the workforce; designing for new customer demands; and accelerating automation initiatives.
Creating digital parity
IDC estimates that before the pandemic, organizations, on average, had only 14% of their employees working from home. Since then, the analyst says that percentage has increased dramatically – to 45% – and many organizations anticipate that work-from-home employees will remain a large proportion of the workforce going forward.
Supporting hybrid workforces and ensuring that remote and work-from-home employees have the same sets of connectivity and productivity tools as their in-office counterparts will be essential to long-term success, adds the analyst.
In 2022, an additional $2 billion is forecast to be spent on desktop and workspace as a service by the Global 2000 (G2000) IT organizations, as 75% of them incorporate employees' home network/workspace as part of the extended enterprise environment. By 2023, IDC predicts that 75% of the G2000 will commit to providing technical parity to a workforce that is hybrid by design rather than by circumstance, enabling them to work together separately and in real-time.
Designing for new customer demands
Almost half (47.6%) of all U.S. consumers are "very concerned" about their personal health as it relates to the COVID-19 virus, according to IDC's recent U.S. consumer survey. This concern for safety has spurred many businesses to create new contactless consumer experiences, including curbside pickup. Enterprises will also invest in design and user interface requirements for contactless process automation with an emphasis on voice-based experiences and self-service options through mobile apps.
In 2021, IDC esitmates that 40% of development activities will reprioritize design and user interface to support contactless process automation. By 2023, the analyst predicts that 75% of grocery ecommerce orders will be picked up curbside or in store, driving a 35% increase in investment in onsite or nearby micro-fulfillment centers.
Accelerating automation initiatives
IDC forecasts that enterprises will increasingly adopt automated IT operations practices to support the greater scale required for digitally driven enterprises. Robotic process automation (RPA), robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will play a more important role in labor automation while a continued focus on autonomous operations will drive investment in digital engineering organizations and digital operations technologies.
By 2022, IDC expects that 45% of repetitive work tasks will be automated and/or augmented by using "digital co-workers," powered by AI, robotics, and RPA. By 2023, 75% of G2000 IT organizations are expected to adopt automated operations practices to transform their IT workforce to support unprecedented scale.
COVID-19's impact on industries
IDC's latest research also probes how the COVID-19 pandemic has created unique situations for specific industries, including healthcare, hospitality, retail, and small and medium businesses (SMBs), requiring them to rethink the way they use technology to engage with customers. Highlights of that research, according to IDC, are as follows:
- Healthcare: "Telemedicine will be a permanent fixture going forward. With nearly a third of consumers interested in having a telemedicine option post-pandemic, healthcare providers are predicted to increase spending by 70% on connected health technologies by 2023."
- Hospitality: "Despite being an industry known for people-based services, 85% of hospitality brands will implement self-service technologies by 2021, changing how they engage with guests."
- Restaurants: "Restaurants have taken the economic brunt of the pandemic and many have turned to home delivery out of necessity. Post-pandemic, 30% of restaurants using third party delivery platforms will deploy native delivery options to eliminate third-party fees, increasing profit by 25%."
- Retail: "Contactless payments have seen increased adoption during the pandemic and will be viewed as a customer experience imperative going forward, causing 85% of retailers to offer at least two contactless payment options by 2023."
- SMBs: "At least 30% of SMBs will fail by 2021 leading to a new wave of microbusiness-powered and ecosystem-first disruptors by 2023. These microbusinesses will be single employees that leverage the power of a digital platform to obtain and fulfill work."
To learn more about IDC’s predictions for the future enterprise, see the firm'sreport, The Future Enterprise: The Next Normal Priorities Driving Technology Investments (IDC #US46911020).